Jews and Baseball

Volume 1, Entering the American Mainstream, 1871–1948

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About the Book

Long before Hank Greenberg earned recognition as baseball’s greatest Jewish player, Jews had developed a unique, and very close, relationship with the American pastime. In the late nineteenth century, as both the American Jewish population and baseball’s popularity grew rapidly, baseball became an avenue by which Jewish immigrants could assimilate into American culture. Beyond the men (and, later, women) on the field, in the dugout, and at the front office, the Jewish community produced a huge base of fans and students of the game.
This important book examines the interrelated histories of baseball and American Jews to 1948—the year Israel was established, the first full season that both major leagues were integrated, and the summer that Hank Greenberg retired. Covered are the many players, from Pike to Greenberg, as well as the managers, owners, executives, writers, statisticians, manufacturers and others who helped forge a bond between baseball and an emerging Jewish culture in America. Key reasons for baseball’s early appeal to Jews are examined, including cultural assimilation, rebellion against perceived Old World sensibilities, and intellectual and philosophical ties to existing Jewish traditions. The authors also clearly demonstrate how both Jews and baseball have benefited from their relationship.

About the Author(s)

A member of the Society for American Baseball Research, Burton A. Boxerman taught history for 30 years and contributes to numerous historical journals. A longtime baseball fan, he lives in St. Louis, Missouri.
Writer and researcher Benita W. Boxerman is retired from one of the largest public relations firms in the United States and is a member of SABR. She lives in St. Louis, Missouri.

Bibliographic Details

Burton A. Boxerman and Benita W. Boxerman
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 232
Bibliographic Info: 52 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2016 [2007]
pISBN: 978-1-4766-6796-6
eISBN: 978-1-4766-0514-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vii

Foreword by Martin Abramowitz, Ph.D.       1

Prologue      3

1. From the Beginnings      5

2. The Earliest Jewish Professional Players      8

3. The Cincinnati Connection      13

4. Baseball’s Most Detested Owner      19

5. Reshaping the Game      27

6. Baseball and Eastern European Jews      37

7. A Cohen by Any Other Name      40

8. Keepers of the Stats      55

9. Baseball’s National Anthem      61

10. From the Press Box      64

11. The Last of the Pseudonyms      75

12. McGraw’s Mission      83

13. The Unsung Star      94

14. The Clown and the Spy      99

15. The Revolutionary Umpire      111

16. Jewish Owners—The Next Generation      116

17. The Golden Age Begins      132

18. The Brooklyn Dodgers      153

19. The War Years      165

20. The First Jewish Superstar      176

Epilogue      185

Notes      187

Bibliography      209

Index      217

Book Reviews & Awards

“intriguing…a thorough and worthy contribution”—School Library Journal; “a good addition”—Library Journal; “the writing is accessible and engaging…features a number of revealing photographs…an entertaining introduction to the Jewish presence in baseball”—Journal of Sport History; “full of history and memory…richly and appropriately ornamented with stats, color commentary, and lots of evocative photographs…noteworthy”—The Jewish Journal; “the Boxermans…love affair with the game shows in the care and perseverance they used to track down so many stories from so many sources. This volume includes an impressive 38 pages of notes and bibliography”—jweekly.com; “well-researched”—Sports Collectors Digest; “indispensible…[The Boxermans] have not only written a compendium of Jewish participation in America’s national pastime, but they also reveal a sharp eye for the social and cultural environment that attracted American Jews to baseball”—Midstream; “complete”—Jewish Press; “solidly researched and nicely written”—Shofar; “as their book attests, the Boxermans obviously love baseball and have lovingly and painstakingly compiled a two-volume treasure trove on Jews and America’s pastime. Both volumes should be on the shelves of every Jewish sports fan”—access.stljewishlight.com; “The Boxermans have chased down some delightfully obscure characters and made an effort to focus on all aspects of the game—players, owners, journalists, umpires statisticians. … The authors’ love of baseball carries the day and makes this a worthwhile read for fans of the sport.”—Jewish Book World; “will fascinate…puts together a piece of the story of American Jewry and its acculturation into the broader society”—Chicago Jewish Star; “a grand slam hit…comprehensive…high-quality”—Association of Jewish Libraries Newsletter; “captivating…its richness transcends the story of a few members of one ethnic group’s involvement in a professional sport…extremely well-researched…draws parallels between the convergence of baseball becoming “America’s Pastime” and the growth of the American Jewish population…details the very significant role Jews played in the development of Major League Baseball as we know it today…packed with fascinating facts…highly readable…some of the most graceful, thoughtful, and poignant baseball writing in history”—The American Israelite; “superbly written and impeccably researched…an enduring feast for baseball fans…a treasure-trove”—St. Louis Jewish Light; “scholarly…belongs next to any other study about the Jewish-American experience”—New Jersey Jewish News; “fun reading”—The Jewish Daily Forward; “while there have been other books about Jewish baseball players, none packs as much of a scholarly punch as this new title”—NJJN-MetroWest; “while there have been other books about Jewish baseball ballplayers, none packs as much of a scholarly punch as this new title presented by Burton and Benita Boxerman”—SABR Bibliography Committee Newsletter; “[The Boxermans] show that Jewish Americans loved—and influenced—the national pastime from its very earliest days”—Jane Henderson, St. Louis Post-Dispatch.