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July 05, 1996 - Image 18

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1996-07-05

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Out To The Ballgame


Temple Kol Ami and the Detroit Tigers honor Rabbi
Ernst Conrad with a first pitch.


rest J. Conrad is known as one Tigers game every year —
"a walking encyclopedia of in good times, bad times and
baseball." He can tell you very bad times. According to
who won the World Series Rabbi Conrad, sometimes the
in 1940 and the only pitcher to game itself is more important
ever throw two consecutive no- than how it's played.
"Baseball brings all races,
hitters, and he can even name
most of the players on the cur- classes and groups together," he
says. "It's a very democratic and
rent Tigers' roster.
On Sunday, July 7, his stock dignified game that needs un-
of baseball lore will grow when derstanding in order to be played
he throws out the first ball at well."
While serving as rabbi at the
Tiger Stadium in celebration of
temple, Rabbi Conrad also
Rabbi Conrad Day.
advised Michigan
The rabbi emeri-
State Temple
tus of Temple Kol
Youth (MSTY).
Ami in West Bloom-
One of his "duties"
field received the
was umpiring the
honor, along with a
Tigers' practice ball
baseball games.
and plaque, as a
Paul Gross, a
75th birthday gift
WDIV-TV weath-
from his congrega-
erman and Temple
tion at a special din-
Kol And member,
ner last month. "It
first met Rabbi
was an utter sur-
Conrad at a MSTY
prise," says Rabbi
weekend conclave.
Conrad. "The gift is
"I remember com-
very special since
ing home and
I've always had a
telling my mom
love for baseball."
how cool Rabbi
In 1939, Rabbi Rabbi Conrad: Warming up.
Conrad was," he
Conrad escaped
from Berlin, Germany, and came says.
Mr. Gross, who served on the
to America. His arrival was
sponsored by three retired maid- Temple Kol Ami dinner and gi ft
en schoolteachers in Cincinnati committee, was key in making
who were baseball enthusiasts. Rabbi Conrad's honor possible.
They taught the teen-ager all the He inquired with the Tigers'
rules of the game before he be- public-relations office about the
rabbi throwing out the first
gan his English education.
The young immigrant became pitdh. The gift was arranged
a fan of the Cincinnati Reds, the through the Tigers' honorable
1939 pennant winners and 1940 citizens" program.
Mrs. Conrad wrote a short es-
World Series champions. While
he was a student at Hebrew say detailing Rabbi Conrad's
Union College, he and his class- community contributions and
mates often skipped school to go love for baseball. The statement
to ballgames at Crosley Field to will be read over the stadium
cheer on Reds players like Paul public-address system while
Rabbi Conrad is on the mound.
Deringer and Ernie Lombardi.
"I'm really looking forward to
At the time (before the com-
ing of Marge Schott), clergymen Sunday," says Rabbi Conrad. "I
and students were given free hope it's a beautiful day and that
tickets to all Reds' home games. the Tigers will be able to beat
After he was ordained in 1947, Toronto."
Close to 100 Temple Kol Ami
Rabbi Conrad got a job in Mary-
land where he rooted for the Red members, Rabbi Conrad's wife,
Sox, parent club of a Maryland his daughter, Elsa, and son,
Joseph, will be part of the crowd.
minor-league team.
With every rabbinical move, Although he admits he's no John-
ny Vander Meer (the player who
his-baseball loyalties shifted.
Cipnrad's devotion to threw those two no-hitters), he
•:,Detr,(2it Tigers started in and his son have been practicing
When: he and his wife, regularly.
As for the Tigers' woeful los-
Nathalie, moved to Pontiac.
Raised with a liberal Judaism ing record, Rabbi Conrad says
background in Germany, he his first pitch just might be the
founded Temple Kol Ami in start they need. "I know the
Tigers need pitching, but I just
Although he has followed all can't offer my services at this
Detroit sports, baseball remains time. I do, however, wish them
his first love. He's gone to at least all the good luck in the world." 0



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