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December 27, 2002 - Image 62

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2002-12-27

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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I

PROJECT from page 61

cionados to create the cards, including
the late George Brace, a Chicago-area
photographer who took at least one
picture of every Major Leaguer who
passed through the Windy City to
play either the Cubs or the White Sox
from the late '20s until the early '90s.
While the Hall of Fame provided
some photographs, Brace furnished
Abramowitz with most of them.
To obtain the remaining photos,
Abramowitz and his colleagues added
to the record of Jews in the Major
Leagues with some original research.
Hours and hours were spent poring
through obituaries and newspaper
archives to locate the families of these
players in the hopes of getting a picture.

During this effort, Abramowitz dis-
covered another Jewish baseball play-
er initially omitted from the Jewish
Sports Review's list -- Sam Fishburn,
an infielder who made his debut with
the St. Louis Cardinals in 1919.
Abramowitz says the opportunity to
issue cards for Fishburn and other
Jewish Major Leaguers who were never
recognized is what motivated him.
"I really wanted these guys to have
cards, to have a slice of immortality,"
said Abramowitz, whose teenage son,
Jacob, encouraged him to create a set
of cards for past and present Jewish
Major Leaguers and sketched the
design for the card logo.
"Baseball cards represent an
American sports icon, and I wanted
these g-uys to be memorialized in

some clear way."
Abramowitz has advanced $25,000
of his own money so far into the
project. AJHS has stepped up to the
plate to repay Abramowitz for his ini-
tial investment, and is seeking to raise
another $45,000 for the project. 0

For more information on
American Jews in America's Game,
1871-2001, send an e-mail to
jewishmajorleaguers@rcn.com .
The American Jewish Historical
Society plans to host an exhibit
of the cards and associated mem-
orabilia in the spring. Contact
the AJHS for details at
ajhs@ajhs.org.

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www.detroitjewishnews.com

12/27
2002

62

Find
out
before your mother!

You were Jewish by osmosis."
During his career, Koufax encoun-
"I think Koufax set a standard," said
tered a lot of anti-Semitism.
Leavy, "both in terms of the beauty
In one incident, Koufax and the
and purity of his pitching motion and
Dodgers were stuck in a bus in Miami
the way he comported himself. This is
with no air conditioning.
a man who gives a lot of time and
As Carl Erskine, a fellow Dodger
thought to doing good things."
Encountering Anti-Semitism
pitcher, told the story to Leavy, the
Take Bob Hendley. The perfect
But Leavy goes beyond the famous
players "were moaning and mumbling,
game added to Koufax's fame;
Yom Kippur story to explore Koufax's
and Billy Herman was one of our
Hendley disappeared into a footnote.
Jewishness.
coaches, who was a Hall of Famer. And
His only regret, he told Leavy, was
-
after a while, he yells out,
that he hadn't had the
. real loud, 'You can give
foresight to keep a
this damn town back to
memento of the Koufax
the Jews.'
game.
"And Sandy's sitting
With a little help from
right across the aisle, you
Leavy, a package arrived in
know? And all of us are,
Hendley's mail shortly
`Oh Billy.' So after a few
after she had interviewed
minutes of silence, Sandy,
the ex-Cub. It held an
in a real soft voice, says,
actual 1965-era baseball
`Now, Billy, you know
with a signed inscription --
we've already got it.'"
"What a game" -- and a
Like slugger Hank
friendly note from Sandy
Greenberg in the 1930s
Koufax.
and 1940s and Shawn
Then there's what
Green, a contemporary
Koufax means to Jews. The
Jewish star for the
pitcher famously declined
Dodgers, Koufax, by hon-
to pitch Game 1 of the
oring his tradition and
1965 World Series because
acknowledging his tradi-
Sandy Koufax signs autographs at 2002 spring training in Vero
it fell on Yom Kippur, the
tion, while not really dis-
Beach, Fla., as a fan holds out a 1964 magazine.
holiest day on the Jewish
cussing it, he certainly
calendar. That unassuming
enhanced and made it easi-
move still resonates, not least with
Koufax, who was raised by his step-
er for other people to identify them-
Leavy herself.
father, mostly grew up in a Brooklyn
selves proudly as Jews.
In 1983, she was covering the U.S.
milieu where "you were Jewish because
"And at the same time, he broadened
Open tennis championships on Yom
you were from Brooklyn," said Gloria
the cultural image of what a Jew is,"
Kippur. A Korean airliner had been
Marshak Weissberg, a classmate of
Leavy said of Koufax.
shot down by the Soviet Union. Her
Koufax's at Lafayette High Schbol.
His staunch resolve in the face of
editors wanted her to cover it. And
"The schools closed on the holidays
anti-Semitism is typical of the portray-
she thought of Sandy Koufax.
because the teachers were all Jewish.
al of Koufax that comes through in the

o

• exp i/31/93 •

NE 4€02/ REX Eft Ma

"I finished what I was writing,
pressed 'send' and thought, `Koufax
didn't pitch on Yom Kippur,"' Leavy
recalled. "And I haven't worked on
Yom Kippur since."

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