Kuttler: Q&A with Sol Gittleman, baseball educator and author

From Hillel Kuttler at the Jewish Baseball Museum on July 18, 2016, with SABR member Sol Gittleman:

A writer could hardly conjure a more enjoyable interview subject than Sol Gittleman. At 81, he exudes a youthful zest, with vivid memories of details and a strong, warm voice.

A professor since 1964 at Tufts University’s School of Arts and Sciences, Gittleman has taught courses on German literature, Weimar culture, German silent films, the rise of Hitler, Yiddish culture, Sholem Aleichem, the Jewish-American novel and … baseball.

In 2007, he published his first book about the national pastime: “Reynolds, Raschi and Lopat: New York’s Big Three and the Great Yankee Dynasty of 1949-1953.”


How is it that you, a professor of Judaic Studies and of German, came to write a book in 2007 on three good-but-not-great pitchers – Allie Reynolds, Vic Raschi and Eddie Lopat – who played for the Yankees six decades ago?

Gittleman: As a young adult in 1949 – I was 15 years old – I was a passionate Yankees fan and a very dedicated baseball fan. I knew the rosters of all 16 teams and studied them. It became clear to me then that these three pitchers made this unique event take place – five consecutive world championships – and not the rest of the team. Without the three pitchers, nothing would have happened.

You could see that Mickey Mantle was a kid who broke water fountains, and that Joe DiMaggio was through. As I got older, I stopped rooting for the Yankees. Later in life, when I had the opportunity to teach baseball, I felt: “I don’t want to teach it unless I publish something.” So in 1993, I wrote this two-page article for the Society for American Baseball Research about these three pitchers. It caused me to have an itch I had to scratch. Fifteen years later, I wrote the book.

Read the full article here: http://jewishbaseballmuseum.com/spotlight-story/sol-gittlea-precocious-bar-visitor-gambler-man-letters-always-baseball/

Originally published: July 19, 2016. Last Updated: July 19, 2016.