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October 21 • 2010
history of Jewish
Between Crooks & Coolidge
In The Troy Motor Mall
(The Stubbs Girls)
Hank Greenberg hits a homeffuri
against Chicago, April 1938
Wendy Rose Bice
Special to the Jewish News
ince the founding of the
National Baseball League
in 1876, some 16,700 Major
League players have stood behind home
plate; 160 of them have been Jewish.
A new documentary film, Jews and
Baseball: An American Love Story,
explores the connection between Jewish
Americans and baseball, our nation's
most iconic sports institution. More
than a film about sports, it is a story
of immigration, assimilation, bigotry,
heroism, the passing on of traditions
and the shattering of stereotypes.
At 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 31, the Jewish
Historical Society of Michigan, in
cooperation with the Jewish Federation
of Metropolitan Detroit, will host
the Detroit premiere of this highly
acclaimed, 90-minute film at the Palace
of Auburn Hills.
Standout Jewish ball players have exist-
ed from the game's earliest days, begin-
ning with Lipman Emanuel Pike, the first
Jewish great homerun hitter in the late
1870s. Jews and Baseball is the first major
documentary to tell their stories.
Throughout much of baseball his-
tory, anti-Semitic abuse from fans and
opposing players —sometimes vio-
lent— made playing the game a chal-
lenge. Peter Miller, the film's producer/
director, says it was "part of the experi-
ence of being a Jewish ballplayer. In the
early years, if you were named Cohen
and you wanted to play in the majors,
you had to change your name to some-
thing more 'American."
Irwin Cohen, a local historian who
has written several books on baseball
history, agrees. He explains that it wasn't
that Jewish players were excluded from
the game, but rather that dogmatic ste-
reotypes kept many at bay.
"There have been eight players with
the last name of Cohen:' says Cohen,
unrelated to any of the players. "Six of
them changed their name; only two,
Andy Cohen and Hy Cohen, used their