Sandy Koufax (SABR/The Rucker Archive)

Jews and Baseball: History and Demographics (Part One)

This article was written by Peter Dreier

This article was published in Spring 2024 Baseball Research Journal

Sandy Koufax (SABR/The Rucker Archive)

Sandy Koufax (SABR-Rucker Archive)


American Jews have long had a love affair with baseball. They have played baseball since the game was developed in the mid-1800s. Some have made it to the professional ranks and a few have climbed to the very top—the major leagues. Jews have also become coaches and managers at all levels of the sport, from Little League to the majors, in addition to being sportswriters, umpires, owners, and executives. But even Jewish baseball fans may be surprised to learn that the 19 Jews who played on major league rosters in 2023 represented the highest number for a season in history. Although 19 is the peak in the number of Jewish players, it is only 1.3% of all players on the 30 current teams. The highest proportion of Jews occurred in 1937, 1938, and 1951, when Jews represented 2% of all players, and the big leagues had only 16 teams. Yet even that 2% figure is somewhat misleading, as we’ll discuss.

To put these and other facts in context, this article examines the history of Jews and baseball. The topic is so large that we have split the article into two parts. In Part One we will review—for the first time—year-by-year and decade-by-decade levels of participation since 1901, and discuss the ways in which Jewish participation in baseball does, and sometimes does not, reflect the changes in demographics throughout the United States. In Part Two, which will appear in the next issue of the Baseball Research Journal, we will tackle topics including anti-Semitism and the contributions of several significant individuals, including not only record-breaking players but also sportswriters, umpires, and others.

The primary sources of data on Jewish ballplayers are Jewish Baseball News (JBN) and the Jewish Baseball Museum (JBM), in addition to books that include profiles of Jewish players, biographies and autobiographies of players, newspaper and magazine articles, and the biographies published by the Society for American Baseball Research.1 JBN considers a player to be Jewish if he has a Jewish parent or converted to Judaism, does not practice another faith, and is willing to be identified as a Jew. But that definition can be difficult to apply, especially to players from earlier periods who were not asked or did not clarify how they identified in religious or ethnic terms. For example, some players have Jewish ancestry but were not raised as Jews, some were the offspring of intermarried parents and their religious identity is unclear, some married Jewish women but did not convert, some converted to Judaism after they ended their baseball careers, and some changed their names to avoid anti-Semitism.2


Historians and sociologists look at American immigration in terms of being a “melting pot” or a “salad bowl.” In the former, immigrants seek to assimilate into the mainstream culture and, in the process of doing so, change that culture to incorporate different ideas, languages, and customs. In the latter, immigrants do not forge together into a common culture, but seek to maintain their distinct identities and cultures. The country’s history of racism, of course, conforms to neither model. Baseball has reflected these tensions. During the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, immigrants from Europe—first Germans and Irish, then Italians, Slavs, Czechs, Poles, and Jews—were not immediately attracted to baseball, since their primary concern was gaining an economic foothold in the new society. They also lacked the time or money to attend professional or semiprofessional games. But their children—and then subsequent generations—took to baseball. The rosters of minor and major league teams reflected the nation’s evolving demographics—with the exception of African Americans, who were excluded from the late 1800s until 1947.3

The first Jews arrived in what is now the United States during colonial times. They were mostly of Spanish and Portuguese descent, primarily from Brazil, Amsterdam, and England. By 1840, the American Jewish community had grown to about 15,000 people. The next wave of Jews arrived from Germany and Austria starting in the middle 1800s. By 1880, the Jewish population reached about 250,000. Between 1880 and 1920, more than 2 million Jews came to the US, primarily from Eastern Europe (Russia, Poland, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine, and Moldova), seeking to escape violent anti-Jewish riots called pogroms. Most American Jews today are descendants of the third wave of immigration.4

Lipman Pike was one of the first group of players—and the only Jew among them—to accept payment in 1866 for playing baseball, putting them among the first “professional” ballplayers.5 Pike was born in New York in 1845 to Dutch Jewish parents. Pike began playing baseball as a teenager and in 1866, at 21, he agreed to play for the Philadelphia Athletics for $20 a week. That year he belted five home runs in one game, establishing his reputation as America’s first great slugger. Pike played for several professional teams until he retired in 1881. Upon his retirement, Pike took over his father’s Brooklyn haberdashery shop and ran it until he died of heart disease at the age of 48 in 1893.

When Jewish immigrants arrived from Eastern Europe, baseball was as foreign to them as ham. In 1903, the Jewish Daily Forward, a widely read Yiddish newspaper, published a letter from a Russian Jewish immigrant. “What is the point of a crazy game like baseball?” the reader wanted to know. “I want my boy to grow up to be a mensch, not a wild American runner.” “Let your boys play baseball and play it well,” Forward editor Abraham Cahan responded in the letters-to-the-editor column. “Let us not raise the children that they grow up foreigners in their own birthplace.”6

Baseball became a way for Jews to show that they wanted to be full-fledged Americans, even as they also sought to maintain their group identity.

The overcrowded Jewish immigrant neighborhoods of the early 1900s provided few parks or playgrounds for Jews to play baseball. In New York, young Jews learned to play versions of baseball—using broom handles for bats and manhole covers for bases—on the streets. Athletic-oriented children of early Jewish immigrants were more likely to focus on boxing, basketball, and track-and-field, sports where Jews rose to prominence in amateur and professional ranks.7

As Jewish families moved from the tenement ghettoes to working class areas like the Bronx, with more spacious playgrounds and ballfields, and as public schools and Jewish settlement houses (such as the Young Men’s Hebrew Association) fielded baseball teams, the sons of immigrants had more opportunities to play baseball. After World War II, like many other white Americans, many Jews moved to the suburbs, with more ballfields and public school teams. Starting in the 1950s, many Jews also played on Little League teams.

From 1920 through 1957, the Giants and Dodgers, but not the Yankees, tried to recruit Jewish players to attract Jewish fans, as New York City’s population at the time about one-third Jewish. During those years, the Giants had 11 Jews on their rosters, the Dodgers had 10, while the Yankees had only three. Harry Danning, Sid Gordon, Phil Weintraub, Goody Rosen, and Harry Feldman played for at least five years for either the Giants or Dodgers.

In 1923, Mose Solomon led the Southwestern League with 49 homers and a .421 batting average. The Giants put him on their roster at the end of the season. Writers called him the “Rabbi of Swat.” In two games, he had three hits in eight at-bats for a .375 average. But he got into a dispute with manager John McGraw and was sent back to the minors, where he played until 1929.

In 1926, the Giants added infielder Andy Cohen to their roster. He was born in Baltimore, grew up in El Paso, and played baseball at the University of Alabama. He became the next “Great Jewish Hope.” Sent back to the minors for 1927, he returned to the Giants in 1928. An estimated 25,000 to 35,000 fans, many of them Jewish, came to the Opening Day game at the Polo Grounds. Cohen drove in two runs and scored two more in the Giants’ 5–2 victory. In his three years with the Giants, he had a .281 batting average, but he returned to the minors after the 1929 season and never played in the majors again.

Like ballplayers in general, many Jewish players played for one season, or just a handful of games. For example, Robert Berman, born in New York City in 1899, graduated from high school, went to a Washington Nationals tryout, played in two games during the 1918 season, then spent a few years in the minors. He later played for barnstorming semipro teams, including an all-Jewish team, the South Philadelphia Hebrews, and the House of David team (which, despite its name, had few Jews). Then he returned to college and spent 43 years (1925–68) as a high school coach in New York.8


Since 1871, 193 Jews have played in the major leagues, identified in Table 1 (see below). Six, including Pike, played before 1901, when the American League (AL) joined the National League (NL) to form the two major leagues that are still active today. Since then, 187 identifiable Jews have played in the majors. Jews have thus composed about 1% of the roughly 19,000 big league players between 1901 and 2023. This is less than half of Jews’ proportion of the American population (about 2.5%) during those years. Jewish representation on major league rosters has fluctuated, as revealed in Figures 1 and 2.


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All but four of the 193 Jewish major leaguers were born in the US or Canada. Other than Jose J. Bautista, born in the Dominican Republic, the other three—William Cristall (born in 1875), Reuben Cohen (who played under the name Reuben Ewing and was born in 1899), and Isidore “Izzy” Goldstein (born in 1908)—were all, by coincidence, born in Odessa (then in the Russian empire, now in Ukraine).9

Only five Jews played on major league teams during the first decade (1901–1910) of the twentieth century and in most years, there were only one or two Jews on big league rosters. By the second decade (1911–1920), an average of 2.4 Jews wore major league uniforms each year, ranging from 0.2% to 0.8% of all players. The next decade saw an average of 3.5 Jews in uniform each year, ranging from 0.4% to 1.2% of all players. The 1930s saw a spurt of Jewish major leaguers, averaging 8.1 a year and ranging from 1.2% to 2% of all players. In the peak years of that decade—1937 and 1938—10 Jews played each season. In the 1940s, the average number of big league Jews declined to 6.1, while the proportion ranged from 0.7% to 1.8%. In the 1950s, the number averaged 6.3 and the annual proportion from 0.9% to 2.0%.

In the 1960s, MLB began expanding the number of teams and increased the total number of players. In that decade, the average number of Jews in the big leagues was 7.4, ranging from 0.7% to 1.0% of the total. The 1970s saw an uptick, with an average of 8.4 Jews in big league uniforms, ranging from 0.8% to 1.3% of all players.

In the 1980s, the average fell significantly to 2.4 and the proportion ranged from 0% to 0.8%. In 1984 and 1985, only one Jew wore a major league uniform and in 1986 and 1987, not a single Jew played in the majors. In the 1990s, an average of 7.6 Jews played in the majors, while the proportion ranged from 0.3% to 1.0%.

It is difficult to explain the low proportion of Jews in the majors during the 1980s and early 1990s. This was at the start of the influx of Latino players, but the increase was not yet sizable.10 There is no evidence that it was the result of anti-Semitism by scouts or ballclubs. It may simply be a statistical fluke in light of the relatively low number of Jews in the overall US population rather than changes in young Jews’ career aspirations or talents.

The number and proportion of major league Jews increased significantly in the twenty-first century. From 2000 to 2009, an average of 11.3 Jews were on rosters, ranging from 0.9% to 1.1%. Between 2010 and 2023, an average of 14 Jews played on major league teams each year, ranging from 0.8% to 1.3% of all players. The 19 Jewish players in 2023 matched the highest proportion (1.3%) since 1974.

Another way to look at Jews’ participation in baseball is to compare their proportion of all players to their proportion of the American population. Because the Census does not ask about religion, demographers have periodically sought other ways to identify and calculate the number of Jewish Americans, although their methods may not be as rigorous as the Census.

Based on best estimates, Jews represented 3.7% of the U.S. population in 1937—the highest it has ever been. That year and the following one, Jews were 2% of all major league players—or 54% of their proportion in the overall population. In 1951, Jews’ representation in the population had fallen to 3.5%, and Jews’ proportion of major league players was once again 2%—or 57% of their proportion in the total population.11 In 2023, Jews were 2.2% of the US population, and as previously mentioned, 1.3% of all major leaguers.12 This represents 59% of their proportion of the nation’s population—an all-time high.


Several demographic and sociological factors explain the increase in Jewish ballplayers in this century. The proportion of Americans living in California increased from 6.6% in 1950 to 10.4% in 1980 to 12% in 2010, while the proportion living in Florida grew from 1.7% to 4.3% to 6.1% in those years. After World War II, Americans Jews were in the forefront of moving from the East Coast and Midwest to California and Florida and from cities to suburbs. The Sunbelt allows for longer baseball seasons, and suburban and private high schools have more athletic resources (both in facilities and coaching) than urban public schools. Moreover, recent Jewish ballplayers have been much more likely than their predecessors to attend college and have received athletic scholarships. More than the earlier generations of Jewish players who had immigrant parents, recent players have parents who are more likely to support their sons’ pursuit of careers in sports.

Until the 1950s, most Jewish major leaguers were sons of immigrants. Many of their parents adhered to strict Jewish customs. Most of their offspring followed some, if not all, of those traditions. Interfaith marriages were almost taboo within the Jewish community. By the late twentieth century, most Jews were two or three generations removed from the immigrant generation. Interfaith marriages became more widely accepted. Like Jews in general, today’s Jewish players are more likely to be offspring of interfaith parents.

Some Jewish players were the sons not only of interfaith but also interracial couples, such as Ruben Amaro Jr. (son of a Jewish mother and Mexican-Cuban Catholic father who played in the majors), Jose J. Bautista (who was born to a Dominican father and an Israeli mother, had his bar mitzvah in the Dominican Republic, married a Jew, and kept a kosher home), Micah Franklin (son of a Jewish mother and African-American father), Kevin Pillar (son of a Jewish mother and Christian father), and Rowdy Tellez (who has a Jewish mother and Mexican Catholic father).

In the first half of the 1900s, few American men attended college. Among those born between 1906 and 1915, only 9% attended college.13 Few major leaguers born in that period did so. In fact, many dropped out of high school to join a minor league team, which was, in their minds, better than working on a farm or in a factory. Players and managers often called players with even one year of higher education “college boy,” not always meant as a compliment.

In the early 1900s, Jewish ballplayers were more likely than their non-Jewish teammates to have finished high school and even gone to college. Among the Jewish players who were born before 1900, 20% attended college. Among those born between 1900 and 1919, 52% went to college, even if they didn’t graduate. For example, Hank Greenberg, born in 1911, dropped out of New York University to play pro ball.

After World War II, more American men, and more pro ballplayers, attended college, thanks to the federal Serviceman’s Readjustment Act (“GI Bill”) and an increase in athletic scholarships. Among males born between 1930 and 1939, 29% attended college, but among Jewish major leaguers born in that period, 67% did. More than three-quarters of Jewish players born between 1940 and 1959 (76%) and 1960 and 1979 (79%) attended college.

By the twenty-first century, most male high school graduates had some college experience. Among those born between 1980 and 1989, 59% attended college.14 Among Jewish major leaguers born during that decade, 93% attended college.

The 22 Jewish major leaguers who played in 2022 (17 players) and 2023 (19 players) provide a window into the transformation of Jewish and American life.

Sixteen of this group of 22 grew up in Southern, Southwestern, and Western states with post war population booms—13 in California, two in Florida, and one in New Mexico. Eighteen went to high schools in the suburbs. Nineteen (86%) have attended college. At least 11 have one non-Jewish parent, at least two of whom later converted to Judaism. Only nine had a bar mitzvah. Few claim to be religious but most of them feel an affinity with their Jewish identity. For example, 14 have played for Team Israel in the World Baseball Classic and several others have said they’d like to do so.15

Harrison Bader, born to a Catholic mother and Jewish father, grew up in the New York suburbs and attended Horace Mann high school. The family never attended synagogue and Bader didn’t have a bar mitzvah. As his father explained in early 2023, while growing up, Bader didn’t identify either as Jewish or Catholic, “but has talked to me recently about converting to Judaism. He’s spoken to rabbis in New York about this. It is on his mind.”16 He attended the University of Florida on a baseball scholarship. He intended to play for Team Israel in 2023 but injuries kept him from doing so.

Jake Bird was raised in Valencia, California, to a Catholic mother and a half-Jewish father (giving him a Jewish grandmother and non-Jewish grandfather). The family didn’t attend a synagogue or Passover seders and Jake did not attend Hebrew school or have a bar mitzvah. After pitching and playing outfield for West Ranch High School, he attended UCLA, where he pitched for the Bruins for four seasons, was an Academic All-American, and graduated in 2018 with a degree in economics and a 3.62 grade point average. He played for Team Israel in 2023.

Richard Bleier’s father was born Jewish and his mother converted to Judaism. He grew up in South Florida, where he went to Hebrew school and had a bar mitzvah at Beth Am Israel, a Conservative synagogue in Cooper City. The family celebrated the High Holidays, had annual Passover seders, and lit Sabbath candles each week. Growing up, he played basketball and roller hockey at the local Jewish Community Center and said that “My dad would take me out of Hebrew school if I had baseball practice.” He played for Florida Gulf Coast University. Bleier and his wife, who is Catholic, “try to respect both of our traditions.”17 They don’t attend church or temple, but in 2022 they lit Hanukkah candles every night and also had a Christmas tree. They gave their daughter Murphy, now 3 years old, a Hebrew middle name—Adira. He played for Team Israel in 2013 and 2023.18

Alex Bregman’s father is Jewish. His mother was born Catholic but converted to Judaism. He had his bar mitzvah at Temple Albert in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He played for Louisiana State University.

Scott Effross grew up as a member of Congregation Shir Shalom in Bainbridge, Ohio, where he celebrated his bar mitzvah in 2006. He wears a Star of David necklace when he pitches. He played for Indiana University. He announced he would play for Team Israel in the 2023 WBC, but changed his mind due to injuries.19

Jake Fishman is the son of Harris Fishman and Cindy Layton.20 He attended Hebrew School and had his bar mitzvah at Congregation Klal Yisrael in Sharon, Massachusetts. He graduated from Union College, where he played baseball. Fishman played for the Israeli team in 2017 and 2023, and in the 2021 Olympics.21

Max Fried grew up in Santa Monica, California, with two Jewish parents. He attended synagogue on the High Holidays and had a bar mitzvah. In 2009, at age 14, he pitched for the US baseball team that won the gold medal in the Maccabiah Games in Israel. He was drafted out of Harvard-Westlake High School in Los Angeles and signed a contract without going to college.22

Zack Gelof grew up in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, where he attended Hebrew school at the Seaside Jewish Community but did not have a bar mitzvah. His parents are both attorneys. He attended Cape Henlopen High School (where he was class president for four years), then played for the University of Virginia.

Dalton Guthrie’s father Mark, who pitched in the majors from 1989 to 2003, is Christian. His mother, Andrea Balash Guthrie, is Jewish, the daughter of immigrants who fled Hungary in the 1950s. He grew up in Sarasota, Florida, and attended the Goldie Feldman Academy at Temple Beth Sholom before transferring to public school. He graduated from Venice High School, then played for the University of Florida. Team Israel recruited Guthrie, but he decided to spend the time in spring training in hopes of making the Phillies roster. But he’d like to play for Team Israel in the future. “My grandparents would be excited if I played for Team Israel,” he explained. “I guess I’ve always considered myself half-Jewish, but I’m going to have to find out more about my Jewish background.”23

Spencer Horwitz had a Jewish father and non-Jewish mother. “I’ve been around the Jewish culture my whole life and I’ve grown to love it and just appreciate it and respect it,” he told an interviewer.24 He attended St. Paul’s School for Boys in Brooklandville, Maryland, and played baseball at Radford University. He played for Team Israel in 2023.

Dean Kremer was born and raised in Stockton, California. His parents are Israelis who moved to the US after they completed military service in Israel. His grandparents and extended family still live in Israel, where he had his bar mitzvah. Kremer grew up speaking Hebrew at home. He pitched for San Joaquin Delta College and the University of Nevada. Discussing the decision by Sandy Koufax not to pitch for the first game of the 1965 World Series because the game fell on Yom Kippur, Kremer said: “I would do the same.” He won a gold medal pitching for Team USA in the 2013 Maccabiah Games in Israel and won the MVP award while pitching for Team Israel in the European Championship in both 2014 and 2015. He pitched for Team Israel in the 2017 and 2023 World Baseball Classic.25

Matt Mervis, son of two Jewish parents, grew up in Potomac, Maryland, attended Georgetown Preparatory School, and played baseball for four years at Duke University, where he majored in political science.26 His grandmother lived in Israel before immigrating to the United States. He played for Team Israel in 2013.

Eli Morgan was born in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, to Diana and Dave Morgan, former deputy sports editor for the Los Angeles Times. He went to Peninsula High School and joined the baseball team at Gonzaga University as a walk-on.

Joc Pederson was born to a Jewish mother and non-Jewish father. On his mother’s side, the family tree extends back to membership in a San Francisco synagogue in the mid-1800s. Pederson’s mother, Shelly, trekked to her late father’s old synagogue to find proof of Joc’s Jewish heritage so he could play for Team Israel in 2013.27 He played for Team Israel again in the 2023 WBC. He went directly from Palo Alto High School to the minor leagues.

Kevin Pillar was born to a Jewish mother and non-Jewish father, grew up in West Hills (a suburban part of Los Angeles) and went to Chaminade College Prep. He played for California State University at Dominguez Hills, graduating with a degree in mathematics.28

Kenny Rosenberg was born in Mill Valley, California, a suburb of San Francisco, to a Jewish father and non-Jewish mother.29 He attended Tamalpais High School before playing for California State University, Northridge. He explained: “I grew up in a largely non-religious household. However, I had a bunch of Jewish friends and attended my fair share of bar and bat mitzvahs. I also have been to two Jewish weddings and they were both an absolute blast! The energy on the dance floor is unparalleled.”30

Bubby Rossman was born in La Habra, California, to a Jewish mother and non-Jewish father. “I don’t remember ever going to a synagogue. I didn’t go to Hebrew school. I didn’t have a bar mitzvah. My high school was 60–70% Latin. I was the only Jew only on my baseball team. I didn’t know any Jews in my high school. My mom tried to incorporate it [Jewish identity] into my life.” He went to La Habra High School and pitched for California State University at Dominguez Hills. To play for the Israel team in the European baseball league, he visited Israel and got dual citizenship. “When I was in Israel I went to synagogue and became more familiar with my heritage. I wanted to know what my grandparents and great-grandparents went through. If I get married, I’d like my kids to get to go to understand their Jewish identity.”31 He played for Team Israel in 2023.

Ryan Sherriff was born in Culver City, a Los Angeles suburb, attended Culver City High School, then played for West Los Angeles College and Glendale Community College. His parents are Jewish and his maternal grandparents were Holocaust survivors who spent time in concentration camps. He pitched for Team Israel in 2017.

Jared Shuster grew up in New Bedford, Massachusetts, the son of two Jewish parents, Bennett and Lori Shuster.32 He attended New Bedford High School before transferring to Tabor Academy in Marion, Massachusetts. He played college baseball at Wake Forest University.

Garrett Stubbs was born in San Diego to a Jewish mother and a Catholic father. He was raised Jewish, attended Hebrew school every Wednesday from age eight to 13, and celebrated his bar mitzvah at Temple Solel in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, a San Diego suburb. He played for the University of Southern California Trojans from 2012 to 2015 and won the 2015 Johnny Bench Award as the nation’s best collegiate catcher. He played on Team Israel in 2023.

Rowdy Tellez was born in Sacramento, California, to a Jewish mother and non-Jewish father. His grandfather played in the Mexican Baseball League. He jumped directly from Elk Grove High School in California to the minor leagues.

Zack Weiss began blowing the Rosh Hashana shofar at age 8 at Congregation B’nai Israel in Tustin, California. He played for UCLA. He became a dual US-Israeli citizen in 2018 and played for Team Israel in the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo and in the 2023 World Baseball Classic.33

These 22 players’ connection to their Jewish identity ranges from those who were raised with Jewish beliefs and practices to those who only began to explore their Jewish heritage as adults. In this way, they mirror the experiences of twenty-first century Jewish Americans and the spectrum of identification found among those in their age group. 

PETER DREIER teaches politics at Occidental College. His most recent books are Baseball Rebels: The Players, People, and Social Movements That Shook Up the Game and Changed America and Major League Rebels: Baseball Battles Over Workers Rights and American Empire, both published in 2022.


Editor’s Note

Part Two of this article is forthcoming in the Fall 2024 issue.


Table 1: Chronological Listing of Jewish Major League Players, 1871-2023

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1. See and I have also drawn on Peter S. Horvitz and Joachim Horvitz, The Big Book of Jewish Baseball, New York: S.P.I. Books, 2001; Josh Perlstein, ed., Chasing Dreams: Baseball and Becoming American, Philadelphia: National Museum of American Jewish History, 2014; Burton A. Boxerman and Benita W. Boxerman, Jews and Baseball, Volume 1: Entering the American Mainstream, 1871–1948, Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, 2005; Burton A. Boxerman and Benita W. Boxerman, Jews and Baseball, Volume 2: The Post-Greenberg Years, 1949–2008, 2009: Larry Ruttman, American Jews & America’s Game, Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2013; Peter Ephross with Martin Abramowitz, Jewish Major Leaguers in Their Own Words, Jefferson, NC: McFarland Publishers, 2012; Peter Levine, Ellis Island to Ebbets Field: Sport and the American Jewish Experience, New York: Oxford University Press, 1992; Erwin Lynn, The Jewish Baseball Hall of Fame, New York: Shapolsky Publishers, 1987; Dave Cohen, Matzoh Balls and Baseballs, Havenhurst Books, 2010; Robert Stephen Silverman, The 100 Greatest Jews in Sports, Lanham, Maryland, Scarecrow Press, 2003; and Howard Megdal, The Baseball Talmud, Triumph Books, 2022.

2. See Rebecca Alpert, “Who Is a Jewish Baseball Player?” in William Simons, ed., The Cooperstown Symposium on Baseball and American Culture, Jefferson, NC: McFarland Publishers, 2005.

3. Steven Riess, “Race and Ethnicity in American Baseball: 1900–1919,” Journal of Ethnic Studies, 4, No. 4, Winter 1977, 39–55; Rob Ruck, Raceball: How the Major Leagues Colonized the Black and Latin Game, Boston: Beacon Press, 2011.

4. Hasia Diner, The Jews of the United States, Berkeley, California: University of California Press, 2004.

5. In 1866, several Brooklyn teams and the Philadelphia Athletics paid a few ballplayers between $20 and $25 a week. A Philadelphia newspaper discovered this and caused a controversy. The National Association of Base Ball Players, fervently against professionalism, held a fact-finding hearing to determine if Pike and two other Athletics teammates, Patsy Dockney and Dick McBride, had accepted $20 a week for their services. The matter was dropped when nobody showed up for the hearing. Source: Richard Hershberger, “Baseball’s Financial Revolution of 1866 and the Rise of Professionalism,” in Don Jensen, editor, Base Ball 10: New Research on the Early Game, Jefferson, NC: McFarland and Company, 2018, 84–98.

6. Steve Riess, Touching Base: Professional Baseball and American Culture in the Progressive Era, Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1999, 189.

7. Leonard J. Greenspoon, ed, Jews in the Gym: Judaism, Sports, and Athletics, West Lafayette, Indiana: Purdue University Press, 2012; Levine, Ellis Island.

8. “Bob Berman” in Ephross, Jewish Major Leaguers.

9. Peter Dreier, “Odessa Has a Rich Jewish History,” Forward, April 27, 2022

10. Mark Armour and Daniel Levitt, “Baseball Demographics, 1947–2016,” SABR

11. Sidney Goldstein, “American Jewry, 1970: A Demographic Profile, American Jewish Yearbook, 1971,

12. Ira Sheskin and Arnold Dashefsky, “United States Jewish Population, 2022,” in Arnold Dashefsky and Ira Sheskin, eds., American Jewish Yearbook 2023.

13. US Census Bureau

14. US Census Bureau.

15. Roster for 2023 Team Israel:

16. Louis Bader interview with Peter Dreier, March 7, 2023.

17. Richard Bleier interview with Peter Dreier, March 1, 2023.

18. Jeff Seidel, “Orioles Have High Hopes for Jewish Pitcher,” Jmore: Baltimore Jewish Living, June 5, 2017.

19. David Ostrowsky, “Pitcher Scott Effress Goes to Bat for Players Association,” Atlanta Jewish Times, June 16, 2022,; Scott Effross, bar mitzvah notice, Cleveland Jewish News, January 18, 2007,

20. Obituary for Charlotte Layton, Cindy’s Layton’s mother, indicates that she was not raised Jewish. Boston Globe, October 3, 2011.

21. Howard Blas, “Team Israel to Major League Baseball: Jake Fishman’s Debut with the Miami Marlins,” Jewish News Syndicate, August 16, 2022,

22. David R. Cohen, “Fried is Working to Fill Koufax’s Shoes,” Atlanta Jewish Times, August 25, 2017,

23. Dalton Guthrie interview with Peter Dreier, February 6, 2023.

24. “Get to Know Spencer Horwitz, Blue Jays Prospect and Team Israel Sparkplug,” The Canadian Jewish News, Menschwarmers podcast, March 12, 2023,

25. “Dean Kremer,” page in the Jews in Major League Baseball category at the Jewish Virtual Library,

26. Josh Frydman, tweet dated February 17, 2023, including the text, “Doing the important reporting at Cubs Camp, like asking Matt Mervis about his Jewish lineage: ‘All four of my grandparents are Jewish.’ Did you identify as Jewish growing up? ‘Yes. Not super religious though. No Bar Mitzvah. We prioritized sports over Hebrew school.’”

27. Hillel Kuttler, “Meet Joc Pederson, The Jewish Rookie Powering the LA Dodgers Run to the Playoffs,” September 10, 2015, Jewish Telegraphic Agency,

28. Gabe Stutman, “Kevin Pillar Settles Into a New Team and the Jewish Baseball Spotlight,” August 16, 2019, Jewish Telegraphic Agency,

29. Rosenberg’s mother, Deborah Dilley, is the daughter of two non-Jewish parents. Mary Ann Thielen Dilley, obituary,; Walter Dilley, obituary,

30. “Interview: Small Town Boy, Big League Aspirations–Kenny Rosenberg,” The Great Rabbino: Jewish Sports Everything,

31. Bubby Rossman interview with Peter Dreier, March 2, 2023.

32. Milton Gershon, Obituary,

33. Alexandra Goldberg, “Meet the American Pitcher Who Brought new Turf to Israel,” April 6, 2022,,