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10 historical Jewish baseball players you may not know – but should

17 10 5

JTA — Jewish (and many non-Jewish) baseball fans know the names and achievements of Sandy Koufax and Hank Greenberg.

These two players have hallowed status in the greater American Jewish history books.

But they were far from the only Jewish ballplayers to make an impact on the game over the course of the 20th century.

Howard Megdal, who writes for Baseball Prospectus and extensively on women’s sports, released an updated version of his 2009 book “The Baseball Talmud: The Definitive Position-by-Position Ranking of Baseball’s Chosen Players” in May.

To mark the moment, we’ve highlighted 10 less heralded players from its long list — all who played well before contemporary Jewish baseball stars like Alex Bregman and Max Fried were born.

They are presented here in alphabetical order (by last name), along with the years they played, the teams they played for and their notable stats.

Philadelphia Phillies, Cincinnati Reds and New York Giants
.287 batting average, 261 runs batted in

Born in 1910 in Superior, Wisconsin, Arnovich was pushed by his parents to become a rabbi. Needless to say, he had other ideas. Arnovich, who was reportedly nicknamed “Son of Israel” in the Jewish press, played five full seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies, Cincinnati Reds and New York Giants before he enlisted in the army in 1942, after the attack on Pearl Harbor. He made the National League All-Star team in 1939 with the Phillies, hitting .324 with 67 RBI. During his career, Arnovich hit for a high batting average and played great defense, compiling an impressive fielding percentage of .981. After his playing days, he returned to Superior, where he coached at a local Catholic high school. He died of a coronary artery blockage at 48 and was buried in Superior’s Hebrew Cemetery.

Baltimore Orioles, Washington Senators/Texas Rangers, Oakland Athletics and California Angels
.244, 130 home runs

Nicknamed “Superjew” by an opposing minor league manager, Epstein was the premier Jewish slugger of his era. He was an All-American in college at the University of California-Berkeley and won a gold medal with the US Olympic team before the Baltimore Orioles signed him for $20,000 in 1964. Even though he played in spacious parks his entire career and never hit for a high average, he flashed home run power, hitting 19 or more homers in four seasons.

New York Giants, Boston/Milwaukee Braves and Pittsburgh........

© The Times of Israel

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