Archive for the ‘Jewish sports books’ Category


Oh, the places you’ll go

Posted on: October 5th, 2018 by Ron Kaplan

Had a great time in Old London Town last week. Tried to get some baseball stuff going over there, but it was a fool’s errand. The British Baseball Federation website had an address that was years-old. I found that out the hard way, making a trip out there in hopes of exchanging a copy of 501 Baseball Books for a team cap. Alas, ’twas not to be.

But I did give a the book to the Kennsington Hotel library, so I was able to accomplish at least part of my “mission.”











While at the Kennsington, my wife and I thought we might try to go to a local synagogue. As we used the hotel computer to search for something suitable (we neglected to bring along clothing appropriate to going to shul), we also made the acquaintance of Ken and Lynn Tepper, a lovely couple from Toronto who overheard out conversation. Landsmen! Ken asked if I happened to be the Ron Kaplan who wrote Hank Greenberg in 1938, which he had read. In addition, his son — who participated and coached in several Maccabiah Games for Team Canada — had read my book on the history of that institution. Small world.

Our encounter reminded me of a scene from one of my favorite movies, That Thing You Do, when Guy Patterson, the group’s drummer meets his idol, legendary jazz man Del Paxton who’s playing at an LA club. The cocktail waitress, brings him over to Paxton and some cronies, saying, “This kid has actually heard of you.”

Shameless self-promotion: Upcoming Hank Greenberg events

Posted on: July 12th, 2017 by Ron Kaplan

I’ve been looking to participate in Gelf Magazine’s “Varsity Letters” program for years. The dream comes true July 24. Hope to see you there. Here are the details:

Varsity Letters logo Baseball Night

Varsity Letters is back at The Gallery at Le Poisson Rouge on Monday, July 24, with four authors of recently released books about baseball:

• Sports Illustrated writer Jay Jaffe, author of The Cooperstown Casebook: Who’s in the Baseball Hall of Fame, Who Should Be In, and Who Should Pack Their Plaques

Ron Kaplan, author of Hank Greenberg in 1938: Hatred and Home Runs in the Shadow of War

• MLB.com executive reporter Mark Feinsand, author of The New York Yankees Fans’ Bucket List

• Faith and Fear in Flushing blogger Greg Prince, author of Piazza: Catcher, Slugger, Icon, Star

Graphics by Mister Lister.

Event Details:

The Gallery at LPR (Official site, map)
158 Bleecker St. (between Sullivan St. and Thompson St.)
New York, NY 10012
Blocks from ACE/BDF/MNR/1/6 trains

Doors open at 7.
Event starts at 7:30.
There is no admission charge.
Attendees must be 21 or older, as per Le Poisson Rouge rules. (Email varsityletters@gmail.com if you are under 21 and would like to attend. The farther in advance, the better; no guarantees.)

Baseball Hall of FameThen, on August 16 at 1 p.m., I’ll be serving as “closer” for the Baseball Hall of Fame’s Annual “Author’s Series.” From the Hall’s announcement:

Our Authors Series brings noted baseball authors to Cooperstown for special lectures and book signings during the summer months. These programs are included with the cost of admission.

On Wednesday, August 16th at 1pm, the Hall of Fame will welcome author Ron Kaplan as he talks about his new book, Hank Greenberg in 1938: Hatred and Home Runs in the Shadow of War.

From his first day in the big leagues, Hank Greenberg dealt with persecution for being Jewish. The Hall of Famer always did his best to shut out the bigotry, but in 1938, that would prove more difficult then he could have imagined.

Author Ron Kaplan examines Greenberg’s 1938 season in incredible detail. While Greenberg was battling at the plate, the Jewish people overseas were dealing with a humanitarian crisis. Adolf Hitler had taken direct control of the country’s military in February of 1938 and then began a methodic takeover of all neighboring countries, spreading Nazism and the Holocaust.

Hank Greenberg in 1938 chronicles the events of 1938, both on the diamond and in the streets of Europe. As Greenberg took aim at Babe Ruth’s home run record, Hitler’s “Final Solution” was beginning to take shape. Jews across the United States, worried about the issues overseas, looked to Greenberg as a symbol of hope. Though normally hesitant to speak about the anti-Semitism he dealt with, Greenberg knew that he was batting for so many of his own people, particularly those living with life and death on the European continent.

The program includes a presentation in the Bullpen Theater, followed by a book signing in the Library Atrium. Presentation at 1 pm. Book signing at 1:30 pm.

For more information call (607) 547-0362.

Honorable menschen: ‘Hank Greenberg in 1938’ at Bergino

Posted on: May 5th, 2017 by Ron Kaplan

Had a grand old time in my return visit to the Bergino Baseball Clubhouse, Jay Goldberg, proprietor, to discuss the new book, Hank Greenberg in 1938: Hatred and Home Runs in the Shadow of War.

Goldberg is a real mensch and a friend to the author. He holds these “salons” frequently and the audience that shows up is always welcoming, knowledgeable, and inquisitive (if sometimes challenging in the question-and-answer portion of the program).

Happy to say it was standing room only with new friends and old ones such as Perry Barber, a professional umpire and former Jeopardy champion, and Lee Lowenfish, educator and author of several baseball books including the award-winning Branch Rickey: Baseball’s Ferocious Gentleman.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Not only did we sell out of books, but I came away with some lovely parting gifts. I feel like I want to write another baseball book just so I can go back to Bergino.

You can get an idea of the festivities from this video, which for the sake of brevity (and bandwidth) edits out a lot of the great Q&A:


Shameless self-promotion once again

Posted on: April 28th, 2017 by Ron Kaplan

Sorry, but you have to strike while the iron is hot…

I’m not much for self-promotion, but the older I get, the less I care what people think of me.

That said, if anyone is looking for a guest on their baseball, Jewish, or Jewish sports-related show/podcast/article/etc., in the words of one of the lesser-known Beatles songs, “You Know My Name (Look up The Number).” One of the unfortunate aspects of the story is that some of the problems that plagued the U.S. and the world in 1938 have returned. So maybe I shouldn’t be smiling here.

When Hank ‘met’ Jackie

Posted on: December 7th, 2016 by Ron Kaplan

I just finished the first round of edits on the manuscript for my forthcoming book, Hank Greenberg in 1938: Hatred and Home Runs in the Shadow of War (scheduled for release April 4, 2017. Just sayin’.)

The last chapter deals with Greenberg’s final playing season as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1947. There’s a famous incident in which he had occasion to converse with Jackie Robinson, who broke baseball’s color line that year. The two of the collided at first base in a May 15 game. Greenberg helped Robinson to his feet and gave him some words of encouragement, for which the Brooklyn rookie was most grateful.

“Class tells. It sticks out all over Mr. Greenberg,” Robinson told the pres after the game.

That made me think of this:

In the movie 42, about Robinson’s first season, the first black player was hit in the head by a pitch from Fritz Ostermueller. That game took place on May 17 against the Pirates in Pittsburgh.

Well, Greenberg was in the lineup for the Pirates that day. In fact, he hit a two-run homer to give his team the only runs they would need in a 4-0 win over Brooklyn. The Pirates had only four hits and Greenberg had two of them.

Too bad they didn’t include the Robinson-Greenberg conversation in the movie.




This date in Hank Greenberg’s 1938 season

Posted on: May 12th, 2016 by Ron Kaplan

From the Corsicana Daily Sun, May 12, 1938

As you may know, I am working on a book about Hammerin’ Hank for the year in which he challenged what was then the biggest number in sports: Babe Ruth’s single season record of 60 home runs.

So as I do the research for the project, I thought I’d be a nice guy and share some of it with you. Helps me, helps you. Win-win.

So on Thursday, May 12, 1938…

Greenberg hit his seventh home run of the year, a three-run shot that brought the Detroit Tigers to within one run of the host Washington Senators. But that’s as close as they got, losing 7-6 before 7,000 at Griffith Stadium.

Greenberg made two errors, one of which went against the mark of reliever Harry Eisenstat, who allowed one unearned run in two innings of work, striking out one and giving up a hit. And that brought his ERA down to an ugly 12.46.

The loss dropped the Tigers to 8-12 and a fifth place berth in the eight-team league.

People of the book, starring Howard Megdal

Posted on: March 4th, 2016 by Ron Kaplan

Took one of my rare trips into the jungles of Manhattan to see Howard Megdal, he of the new book The Cardinals Way: How One Team Embraced Tradition and Moneyball at the Same Time at the Bergino Baseball Clubhouse.

It’s always great to reconnect with old friends. Jay Goldberg, Bergino’s congenial owner/event host is always kind to his guests, taking the time to note authors that have had events in his establishment who might be in attendance. Last night’s group included Lee Lowenfish, winner of Spitball’s Casey Award for his 2007 biography Branch Rickey: Baseball’s Ferocious Gentleman; Greg Prince, whose  new book —  Amazin’ Again: How the 2015 New York Mets Brought the Magic Back to Queenscomes out March 15; and myself.

In addition to Cardinals, Megdal1Megdal — the busiest man in journalism (he writes for more print and on-line publications than I can track) — is also author of all The Baseball Talmud: The Definitive Position-by-Position Ranking of Baseball’s Chosen Players; Taking the Field: A Fan’s Quest to Run the Team He Loves; and the e-book Wilpon’s Folly: The Story of a Man, His Fortune, and the New York Mets.

On a more personal note, Megdal was responsible for my gig as a talking head on the PBS screening of Jews and Baseball: An American Love Story a few years back and Skyhorse asking me to do my book on the Maccabiah Games.

If my wife and I had another kid, I might have had to make Megdal the godfather.


Jewish kids publisher drops Ryan Braun from book cover

Posted on: September 25th, 2013 by Ron Kaplan

From Publisher’s Weekly:

Jewish children’s publisher Kar-Ben has pulled Ryan Braun—known as the Hebrew Hammer—from the cover of Jewish Sports Stars: Athletic Heroes Past and Present by David J. Goldman, which releases next month in its second edition (the original was published in 2006).

Joni Sussman, publisher for Kar-Ben (which is owned by Lerner) told PW, “While Ryan Braun is a very talented baseball player and we were originally excited to have a contemporary sports figure of his talent and stature with such a strong identification to his Jewish heritage on the cover, there was no question that, after the steroids scandal surfaced, his image was tarnished and he was no longer appropriate to serve as a role model for Jewish kids.”

The book was originally scheduled for August release but was moved to October so Kar-Ben could make the necessary changes. In addition to the jacket photo, Sussman said, “It was cost-prohibitive for us to change the Ryan Braun profile in the text of the book, [but] we did change the back cover copy and added the following on the inside back cover to clarify for our readers:”

“Shortly after the publication of this book, Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun (pages 6-8) was suspended for 65 games, the remainder of the 2013 Major League Baseball season, for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy.”

Braun was replaced in the back cover copy and the jacket photo by reliable Jewish hero Sandy Koufax, and Aly Raisman remains.

Author appearance: Ira Berkow

Posted on: July 9th, 2013 by Ron Kaplan

Pulitzer Prize-winning sportswriter Ira Berkow will discuss his eventful time around the New York Mets at the Yogi Berra Museum & Learning Center located on the campus of Montclair State University in Little Falls on Monday, July 15, at 6 p.m., followed by a signing of his new book Summers at Shea.

In a distinguished journalism career that spans the Mets’ colorful history, Berkow, a former New York Times columnist, has covered every major Mets personality, from Casey Stengel to Tom Seaver and Darryl Strawberry to David Wright. Summers at Shea is culled from 50 years’ worth of reflections, personal stories and opinions on major players and events.

Berkow’s appearance at the Museum coincides with the Mets hosting the 2013 All-Star Game at Citi Field, as well as the 40th anniversary of the Mets’ improbable 1973 National League  championship team, managed by Yogi Berra.

To RSVP or for more info, call 973-655-2378.

With Ira Berkow, center, and Marty Appel at the Yogi Berra Museum in 2011 (when I had lots more hair).

House cleaning

Posted on: May 24th, 2013 by Ron Kaplan

In an attempt to clean out my Google Alerts, here is a “links dump” of accumulated knowledge:

And that’s it! All nice and empty.

So have a good holiday folks, see you next week.



©2019 Kaplan's Korner | Designed by Access Computer Technology