Schuppe: L.A. exhibit tells story of baseball’s role in Jewish-American life

From Jon Schuppe at NBC News on May 15, 2016, with mention of SABR member John Thorn:

In August 1909, The Forward, a Yiddish-language daily newspaper for New York’s newly arrived Jewish immigrants, printed a front-page guide to the game of baseball, including a crudely drawn ballpark.

The feature, titled “The Fundamentals of the Base-Ball ‘Game’ Described for Non-Sports Fans,” may now seem quaint. But historians say it speaks to Eastern European Jews’ struggle to fit into American society, and how generations of them sought acceptance through baseball: understanding it, playing it, cheering it.

“Baseball is a meeting ground for all hyphenated Americans, be it African-Americans, Jewish-Americans, Latin-Americans,” said Rachel Lithgow, executive director of the American Jewish Historical Society in New York, which is hosting a traveling exhibition that charts the sport’s impact on Jews’ integration into American life — as well as its influence on other minority communities.

The exhibit, a pop-up version of one called “Chasing Dreams” that originated at Philadelphia’s National Museum of American Jewish History and is now at the Skirball Cultural Center Museum in Los Angeles, focuses on the early 20th century, when the arrival of millions of Jews coincided with the rise of the national pastime. It traces the link between baseball and social reform efforts to help Jews prove loyalty to their country. It celebrates the sport’s Jewish figures (including many early team owners and the composer of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”) and superstars such as Hank Greenberg and Sandy Koufax. And it examines their continued impact on the sport.

Read the full article here:

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