Archive for the ‘Jewish sports personalities’ Category


Welcome back, Brad

Posted on: October 22nd, 2018 by Ron Kaplan

Image result for brad ausmusBrad Ausmus returns to the ranks of field generals in baseball. He was named as skipper of the LA Angels, replacing long-time manager Mike Soscia who had ben with the team since 2000.

Ausmus, 49, led the Detroit Tigers for four seasons (2014-17). He took the team to the post-season in his rookie year, but was eliminated in the LDS series. Some say that his initial campaign was a success (90-72) because he inherited a good squad from his predecessor, Jim Leland. Ausmus finished under .500 in two of the next three years. He served in the front office of the Angels as a special assistant to the general manager.

As a player, Ausmus — primarily a catcher — enjoyed an 18-year career with the Houston Astros, LA Dodgers, Tigers, and San Diego Padres. He appeared in a JML-leading 1,971 games and finished with marks of .251 batting average, 80 home runs, and 607 runs batted in.

Ausmus was inducted into the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 2004. In a 2009 article published by the Jewish Journal  of Greater Los Angeles, Ausmus — who also managed the Israeli National Team in the World Baseball Classic qualifiers in 2013 — said, “I have had quite a few young Jewish boys who will tell me that I am their favorite player, or they love watching me play or they feel like baseball is a good fit for them because it worked for me, or it worked for Shawn Green or other Jewish players at the Major League level. It has been a sense of pride. If you can have a positive impact on a kid, I’m all for it.”

Image result for brad ausmus israel

Philly Jewish Sports Hall announces new inductees

Posted on: May 17th, 2018 by Ron Kaplan

The Philadelphia Jewish Sports Hall of Fame will induct six new members in its next class, according to a story in the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent. They include Lou Scheinfeld, a “longtime executive who now serves as president and CEO of the in-the-works Museum of Sports”; former University of Pennsylvania basketball standout Bruce Lefkowitz; the late boxer-turned-trainer Marty Feldman; former MLB catcher Jesse Levis; former field hockey and lacrosse star and coach Lauren Becker Rubin; and longtime Maccabi youth basketball coach Brian Schiff.

Holocaust survivor photo exhibit to be part of Super Bowl week

Posted on: January 28th, 2018 by Ron Kaplan

While there are no Jewish players in this year’s Super Bowl, that doesn’t mean there is no Jewish content. The game will be held at the U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, home of the Minnesota Vikings, which are owned by The Wilf family. I did a piece on Zygi Wilf shortly after he acquired the team in 2005.

Now, with the help of the Minnesota Vikings, Wilf Family Foundations, and Delta Airlines, the MSP International Airport will be the site of a photo exhibition of local Holocaust survivors living. “Transfer of Memory” is a joint venture of The Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas (JCRC) and the Airport Foundation MSP and the Metropolitan Airports Commission.

The exhibition is on display at both Terminals 1 and 2 at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, located near gate C18 in the film screening room (“See 18”) at Terminal 1, and at the Arts@MSP Gallery, across from gate H3 at Terminal 2. Since exhibits at both Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 are located post-security, those planning to see the exhibits will need a boarding pass to get through security.

From the press release:

“The Wilf family is proud to help support the Transfer of Memory exhibit at MSP Airport. We hope that travelers visiting Minnesota for the upcoming Super Bowl will pause for a few moments to learn and reflect on this time in history that is deeply ingrained in the life of our family and world history,” said Mark Wilf, Owner and President of the Minnesota Vikings and Co-Chair of the Jewish Federations of North America’s National Holocaust Survivors Initiative.

Each Holocaust survivor in Transfer of Memory shares a story of survival during exceedingly difficult circumstances, yet as a collection, these images focus on life and hope. From Europe to Minnesota, it was here they fashioned their dreams, their futures, and their families – their lives are a constant reminder of the value of freedom and the enduring human spirit. Photographer David Sherman and writer Lili Chester, in partnership with the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas, created this photography exhibition.

“This exhibition has enabled the JCRC’s Holocaust education program to bring lessons of the Shoah (Holocaust) to communities in Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota who otherwise might not receive firsthand accounts from Holocaust survivors. We thank everyone at the MAC and the Airport Foundation MSP for their leadership and tireless work to bring Transfer of Memory to MSP,” said Steve Hunegs, JCRC executive director.

Exhibition photographer David Sherman added, “The urgency for this project is so clear. Our survivor community is aged and aging. The number of living Holocaust survivors is becoming fewer and fewer. It is important for me to ensure that survivors are remembered in a respectful and beautiful way – by face, by name, and by story. Today we stand at a critical time in regard to the Holocaust. After 70 years since the end of the war, we are in the midst of a ‘transfer of memory.’ The witness to the horrors, hardships, and brutalities of the Holocaust is shifting from those who saw and survived, to a retelling of their testimony. We are shifting our focus from the power and reliability of sight and personal experience to the trustworthiness and importance of hearing.”

“This is a deeply moving and powerful exhibit that links Minnesota to an important chapter in world history,” said Robyne Robinson, Arts@MSP Director for Airport Foundation MSP. “We’ve been working for some time to bring the exhibit to MSP Airport and we’re pleased to have the opportunity to host it for the traveling public.”

The exhibition features 44 portraits of survivors living – or who lived – in Minnesota. The color images depict the survivors as living full and fulfilled lives – full of life and vitality – not defined by victimhood. Each survivor was photographed in their home and everyone was interviewed and videotaped prior to making their portrait. Lili Chester’s text, distilled from the survivor interviews, accompanies each portrait and provides background and a short history in the survivors’ own words. “It is my hope and prayer that these images add an important visual proof to accompany the oral testimony,” added Sherman.

This exhibition is curated by JCRC staff members, Laura Zelle and Susie Greenberg, and is a collaboration between David Sherman, Lili Chester, and the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas. The exhibit will be on display at MSP Airport through February 5, 2018. For more information about the exhibition, please visit http://transferofmemory.org. Follow @TransferMemory on Twitter, @TransferofMemory on Instagram, and @TransferofMemory on Facebook.

Here’s some additional coverage from KARE 11 (NBC affiliate) and the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Jewish sports update, January 10, 2018

Posted on: January 10th, 2018 by Ron Kaplan


Only two MOT games last night. Michael Cammalleri took one shot on goal in 12:32 as the Edmonton Oilers (18-23-3) couldn’t overcome a 2-0 deficit in the first period, losing to the host Nashville Predators, 2-1.

Jason Zucker took three SOG in 19:20 in the Minnesota Wild’s 3-2 overtime loss to the visiting Calgary Flames. The Wild are (is?) 22-17-4.

On tonight’s docket: Zucker and the Wild move on to Chicago to face the Blackhawks. Zach Hyman and the Toronto Maple Leafs host the Ottawa Senators.


Omri Casspi and the Golden State Warriors were off yesterday. They host the LA Clippers tonight.


This could be a make-or-break season for LA Dodgers outfielder Joc Pederson.

There’s been chatter that Baltimore orioles pitcher Richard Bleier could wind up in the starting rotation, but according to this piece, maybe he’ll be the closer?


There are all sorts of metrics the scouts use to see if an athlete  is “worthy” of playing in the NFL, such as the Wonderlic Test. But how much does character count? Is the young man a good team guy? And how easily can rumors quash a career? Josh Rosen might be the target of negative assessments. We know he doesn’t want to play for the Cleveland Browns, but what are the chances the NY Jets claim him?

Only a Game, the public radio sports show, offered this segment on quarterback Bennie Friedman in their series on the history of the forward pass. You can hear the story — “The Son Of Jewish Immigrants Who Became Football’s First Passing Specialist” — here. Thanks to the very informative SportsBiblio.com for the link.


I don’t know how much Jewish content there is in This Book Has Balls: Sports Rants from the MVP of Talking Trash, by the actor Michael Rapaport, but I’m including it just on the basis of the cover:

Image result for michael rapaport book balls


Lest we forget: Ray Robinson

Posted on: November 2nd, 2017 by Ron Kaplan

Ray Robinson was among the last of his generation of sportswriters and authors. I had the pleasure of speaking with him on several occasions in my capacity as sports editor for the NJ Jewish News. He passed away yesterday at the age of 96.

Among his many books, Robinson published High and Tight: Hank Greenberg Confronts Anti-Semitism in Baseball in 2012.

Marty Appel, shown with Robinson (right) at the dedication of a plaque at Lou Gehrig’s birthplace, was kind enough to allow me to use his tribute, posted on Facebook yesterday.

A special friend….and a New York treasure, author/editor Ray Robinson passed away at 5 pm today at New York Hospital, a day after suffering a stroke at his apartment on East 90th Street, where he lived for 63 years. As some of you may recall, his wife Phyllis died on March 13 at 92. Ray’s devotion to her care as she suffered through Alzheimer’s Disease was perhaps his finest hour. They were married for 68 years. Ray would have turned 97 on December 4.

Ray was sharp to the end, and he looked forward to every phone call that kept his mind alert and active. Loved to talk politics, media, and of course, baseball. He was a Columbia graduate and graduation day was the day Lou Gehrig died in 1941. Gehrig was special to him — he met Lou, and wrote a classic biography of him, as well as books about Knute Rockne, Will Rogers, Yankee Stadium, Christy Mathewson, Tim McCarver, and many more. He was the editor of the great annual paperback, “Baseball Stars of 19XX” which were must-have books back in the day. There, he employed the likes of Jimmy Breslin, Dick Schaap, George Vecsey, Al Silverman, Arnold Hano, Al Silverman, Charles Einstein, and many more – often for $20 an article! He was, improbably, the editor of Seventeen and Good Housekeeping magazines for many years, as well as the long defunct Pageant and Coronet.

He was an EIGHT DECADE author, published from the 1940s to the 2010s. He did an ebook on baseball and US Presidents in this decade. Everyone wanted a column from him each year on Gehrig — he was in the bleachers on Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day in 1939. (He probably wrote a dozen Gehrig guest columns for the Times). He was on the Board of Directors for the New York (Lou Gehrig) Chapter of the ALS Association.

I knew him for some 45 years. We used to have lunch at Billy’s (no longer there) on First Avenue. He was a vital part of our monthly “Larry Ritter Lunch Group” which is now in its 26th year and we have met in recent years near his home — so he wouldn’t be away from Phyllis for long. Otherwise he was always happy to walk to wherever we met.

We did events at Columbia together and attended a plaque dedication at Lou Gehrig’s birthplace some years ago. Ray was old enough to have lived through and experienced the Great Depression, Pearl Harbor, World War II, the Kennedy assassination, a few more wars, 18 presidents, and the computer/internet age (which he managed to ignore, still working his typewriter).

I take pleasure in believing that there were no questions I neglected to ask him. Remarkable to get first hand accounts of almost everything that has mattered in the US for the last century.

Bob Costas texted me today: “What a life. What a good man.”

Ray and Phyllis had three children – Nancy, Tad and Steve ….. plus his family of admirers who had the pleasure of his company on a monthly basis — at least — for all these years.

Maybe Alon Day would do better driving a getaway car

Posted on: February 21st, 2017 by Ron Kaplan

Alon DaySo much for the anticipated debut of Alon Day, who would have been the first Israeli do rive on the NASCAR circuit. Looks like that’s on hold for the foreseeable future.

In a press release from his main U.S. benefactor, Sarasota attorney David Levin, we learn that the 25-year-old driver was unable to raise the necessary funds required by his team.

In NASCAR, unlike most other professional sports teams, it is the driver’s responsibility to pay the costs of their race car, crew, support facilities and other expenses,” said Levin. “Such funds come from businesses, organizations, and individuals who buy ‘advertising’ space on the driver’s race truck and uniform. Despite numerous contacts over the past eight months to hundreds of friends of Israel and members of the Jewish community,” Day “has received almost no financial support.”

Levin said he found it “particularly disappointing considering that Daniel Suarez, Mexico’s representative in NASCAR, has received millions of dollars from supporters each year since his debut in 2014.”

Levin funded four NASCAR races last autumn to qualify Day for his full rookie season out of his own retirement account and loans.

Levin has been promoting Day’s competition in NASCAR to improve U.S.-Israel relations, to help combat the rise in anti-Semitism, and to strengthen pride in the Jewish community, particularly among the children.

Day was one of eleven drivers selected to the 2016-17 NASCAR Next class, and is the first driver selected from NASCAR’s Whelen Euro Series. NASCAR Next is an initiative designed to feature the best and brightest rising young stars in racing.

He began his motorsports career at the age of nine, racing Go Karts and became Israel’s National Champion. In 2009, Day was Champion of the Formula Renault Asian Championship having placed first in six of his 12 races in that series. He continued to race in open wheel race cars through 2014, including six races in 2012 as the first Israeli driver competing in the Indy Lights Series in the United States. He transitioned from open wheel to stock cars in 2015, competing in NASCAR’s Whelen Euro Series.

Levin has vowed to continue to seek financial support so that Alon will have the opportunity to make his NASCAR rookie season debut as soon as possible.

JML update, Feb. 3, 2017: The return of Sam Fuld?

Posted on: February 3rd, 2017 by Ron Kaplan

Sure, it may be Super Bowl time, but for those of us  who like our games more summery, here’s a quick recap of what’s been going on for some of the Jewish major leaguers.

  • sam fuldRyan Braun is getting ready for the new season. Maybe he’ll have caught up on his sleep by then.
  • Scott Feldman‘s new contract with the Cincinnati Reds calls for a guaranteed $2.3 million, but with incentives, he can get that up to a nice, round $5 mil.
  • Danny Valencia is looking for a breakout year with his new Seattle Mariners.
  • Finally, here’s hoping to see Sam Fuld back on a major league field again. Not only is he an exciting defensive genius, but he’s a true role model, showing that you don’t have to let a medical problem like diabetes stand in the way of a successful athletic career.

And remember: less than two weeks to “pitchers and catchers.”

No politics in my Super Bowl, Robert Kraft and Arthur Block

Posted on: January 31st, 2017 by Ron Kaplan

Owners of both Super Bowl competitors — Robert Kraft of the New England Patriots and Arthur Blank of the Atlanta Falcons — are the subjects of recent articles that take a look at their connections with Donald Trump.

Blank is an opponent, judging by this piece on the Newsday site, while Kraft appears to be more chummy, as per this “open letter” to him from Tablet.

Robert Kraft Arthur Blank


Make no mistake, Kraft has been amazingly generous in his support of Jewish causes. Heck, there’s a football stadium in Israel that bears his name. But like I keep telling some of my (now-ex) Facebook friends, there’s more to the world than Israel. I’m not going to get into politics here. Like many of you, I turn to sports to get away from the problems of everyday life. But the Super Bowl brings out all matter of topics, so this comparison between ownership should come as no surprise.

But me, I like more lighthearted pieces, like this one from the Cleveland Jewish News on how to make football more Jewish.



Lest we forget: Earl Foreman

Posted on: January 26th, 2017 by Ron Kaplan

There are hundreds, perhaps thousands of people like Earl Foreman. They make a great impact inside their local community but probably few outside those geographic or religious or other confines have heard of them. They may not have the name recognition of a Robert Kraft in football or a Mark Cuban is basketball, but they have nevertheless carry great weight in their own circles.

Foreman, who died on Monday at the age of 92, had his fingers in lots of sports pies. If you google him, the first three items that appear are headlines from three different newspapers noting his accomplishments:

Earl Foreman, who shared ownership of Baltimore Bullets, dies at 92
The Washington Post · 1 day ago

Earl Foreman, former Eagles part-owner, dies at 92
Philly.com · 2 days ago

Earl Foreman, former Virginia Squires owner, dies at 92
STLtoday.com · 1 day ago

Put that all together, and that’s a lot of sports happiness for a lot of people.

Earl Forean, left, with Abe Pollin in 1972

Earl Foreman, left, owner of the Virginia Squires of the American Basketball Association, and Abe Pollin, owner o f the Baltimore Bullets of the National Basketball Association, in 1972.

Jewper Bowl!

Posted on: January 23rd, 2017 by Ron Kaplan

(HT to FB friend Robert Toback for the entry title.)

So here’s something for the alt-right to complain about: A couple of rich Jewish owners involved in the great American game. Robert Kraft‘s New England Patriots beat the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers, 36-17 while Arthur Blank‘s Atlanta Falcons polished off the visiting Green Bay Packers, 44-21. In both cases, the game wasn’t as close as the score might indicate.

I wonder if there will be some friendly bet. Food is usually involved, but neither place is known for fine kosher cuisine more in line with New England clam chowder versus Atlanta pulled pork?

Robert Kraft with Patriots QB Tom Brady.

Arthur Blank with Falcons' QB Matt Ryan.

In the Patriots’ game, Nate Ebner appeared as a free safety on special teams in just nine plays, an indication that he wasn’t used all that much. Of course there was also that head injury (not to make light of it) that occurred in the third period.

They keep talking about baseball as a game of numbers, but football has plenty, too. Because it’s a game of field position, I think there are a lot more “geographical” maps and charts, as evidenced by this preview from ESPN.com.

Super Bowl LI is scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 5.



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