The Nine Branches of the Baseball Menorah

Baseball menorah

The Nine Branches of the Baseball Menorah

The Hanukkah Menorah

Hanukkah is here and the Menorah or the Hanukkiah¬†has been dusted off and put in a place of importance. On each of the eight nights of Hanukkah a new candle is lit by the ninth candle, the Shamash. Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, is a Jewish celebration of the rededication of the Second Temple. It is a time for renewing one’s dedication to their family and faith. For fans of baseball, regardless if you are of the Hebrew persuasion, it is the perfect time to look back on some of the greatest Jewish ballplayers to grace the green cathedrals of our national pastime.

The Baseball Menorah

Branch One

Shawn Green

After fifteen years in Major League Baseball, Shawn Green accumulated 328 home runs, putting him third on the Jewish leader board for round trippers. Also, Shawn finished his career with a .283 batting average, 2,003 hits, and 1,070 RBI. He is also one of eighteen players to hit four homers in a game. Many times during his career, Green chose to sit on Yom Kippur, becoming a hero to the Jewish community and a great role model for Jewish youth.

Branch Two

Kevin Youkilis

Kevin Youkilis had a ten-year career in the major leagues and has two World Series rings with the Boston Red Sox from 2004 and 2007. He has a .281 lifetime average with 150 home runs. On August 8th, 2005, in a game against the Texas Rangers, Kevin, along with Adam Stern and Gabe Kapler became the first all-Jewish outfield in the history of the major leagues. Youkilis was also known to sit on Yom Kippur and made it a habit to stay in contact with other Jewish ballplayers, such as the next branch on our baseball menorah.

Branch Three

Ian Kinsler

While not chopping it up with Mr. Youkilis, Ian Kinsler became a four-time All-Star and a two-time Gold Glove winner.  He also has a World Series ring with the 2018 Boston Red Sox. In 2009, Kinsler became the second Jewish player to hit for the cycle, with Harry Danning being the first. He retired after the 2019 season just one hit shy of 2,000. Ian was set to [play for the Israeli national baseball team. The Israeli team qualified for the 2020 Summer Olympics, but we all know what happen there. He is currently an adviser to baseball operations with the San Diego Padres and co-owner of Warstic Wood Bat Company.

Branch Four

Harry Danning

Harry ‘The Horse’ Danning was one of the best defensive catchers of the 1930s and early 40s before his career was cut short by WWII. He was also no slouch at the plate, racking up a career .285 average with 57 home runs and 397 RBIs. Harry played his entire career with the New York Giants from 1933 to 1942. He was a 4x All-Star and had a career fielding percentage of .985. Danning was inducted into the Southern California Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 1996.

Branch Five

Ken Holtzman

Ken Holtzman holds the Jewish career victories crown with 174. That’s right, Holtzman, not Koufax. And he is second behind Koufax on the Jewish career leaders strikeout list with 1,601. He also threw two no-hitters, won three World Series from 1972-74, was a two-time All-Star, and a 20-game winner. Holtzman also managed the Petach Tikva Pioneers during the 2007 season of the now defunct Israeli Baseball League.

Branch Six

Al Rosen

The “Hebrew Hammer” played for the Cleveland Indians from 1947 through the 1956 season. Al Rosen was a four-time All-Star who was good with the glove and the bat. He was part of the World Series champion Indians along with Lou Boudreau in 1948. Rosen was awarded the MVP in 1953 after leading the AL in runs, home runs, and RBI. He finished his career with a lifetime .285 average, 192 home runs, and 717 RBI. Following his days on the playing field, Rosen was a successful stockbroker before returning to baseball as a CEO, president, and general manager for various clubs, including the New York Yankees and San Francisco Giants.

Branch Seven

Ryan Braun

Welcome to the only branch of our menorah that is still active. Braun was the NL Rookie of the Year in 2007 and the NL MVP in 2011. Ryan is a five-time Silver Slugger Award winner and has been in the 30-30 club twice. He led the NL in home runs in 2012 and recently passed Hank Greenberg for the top spot on the Jewish leader board for long balls. His career has been tainted with a 2013 65-game suspension for performance enhancing drugs, his numbers have dropped significantly since the suspension. Following the 2020 season the Milwaukee Brewers didn’t exercise his 2021 mutual contract option. Ryan is currently a free agent.

Branch Eight

Sandy Koufax

Sandy Koufax needs no introduction, but for those of you who don’t know, well then here it goes. Mr. Koufax is considered to be one of the greatest pitchers the game has ever seen. He is a four-time World Series champion, as well as a two-time World Series MVP. He was the National League MVP in 1963 and led the NL in strikeouts numerous times. Also, he threw four no-hitters, one of which a perfect game. This is just a brief dusting of a career filled with highlights plentiful enough to fill volumes. He also showed devotion to his faith by sitting out game one of the 1965 World Series because it fell on the same day as Yom Kippur.

Branch Nine (Shamash)

Hank Greenberg

“Hammerin'” Hank Greenberg is the first Jewish star in American team sports history. And while Koufax is one of the greatest pitchers, Hank is one of the greatest sluggers of all-time. He played during the 1930s and 1940s for the Detroit Tigers and missed three seasons at the height of his career due to his WWII service. Greenberg is a five-time All-Star, two-time World Series Champion, and two-time AL MVP. He led the AL in home runs and RBI multiple times and batted over .300 in eight seasons.

Greenberg was subjected to anti-semitic abuse during his career and when Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947, Greenberg publicly supported Robinson. He was also known to sit on Yom Kippur and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1956.

Happy Hanukkah all!

Main Photo: Embed from Getty Imageswindow.gie=window.gie||function(c){(gie.q=gie.q||[]).push(c)};gie(function(){gie.widgets.load({id:’c6jauPfSTANZ3OAnAdQgKg’,sig:’_Lu1y4HP8JGn98PvqVVnXAoi2OHZaE077ti-g8iYL_c=’,w:’594px’,h:’458px’,items:’166623158′,caption: true ,tld:’com’,is360: false })});