The year in Jewish sports
Kevin Youkilis was named Jewish Major Leaguer of the Decade. Photo by Keith Allison/Flickr
January 5, 2011
More Jews appeared in the Major Leagues — 15 — than in any other year. Unfortunately the story was more about what they didn’t do as many were injured for large portions of the season. Kevin Youkilis (Boston Red Sox) hurt his thumb on a swing and didn’t play after Aug. 2. Reliever John Grabow (Chicago Cubs) suffered a knee injury and was done by June 28. Veteran utilityman Gabe Kapler (Tampa Bay Rays) didn’t play after Aug. 15. Pitcher Scott Feldman (Texas Rangers) also battled to stay on the mound, but he was a far ways off his career-year in 2009.
Jason Marquis (Washington Nationals) was ineffective in his first several starts and discovered he had bone chips in his pitching elbow, requiring surgery. He tried to come back too fast and was shelled in his controversial (among Jewish fans) Yom Kippur start. This was the first time Marquis’ team did not appear in the post-season in his 10-year career.
Ian Kinsler (Rangers) began the season on the disabled list but returned to help spark his team to their first World Series, which they lost to the San Francisco Giants.
Ryan Braun (Milwaukee Brewers) was the dominant Jewish player of 2010, batting .304 with 25 home runs and driving in more than 100 runs for the third straight season. Craig Breslow (Oakland As) was the best “MOT” pitcher, appearing in 75 games and earning 16 holds and five saves.
Shalom: Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Brad Ausmus, who spent time on the DL for the first time in his 18-year career, appearing in 1,971 games, the most for a JML. Scott Schoeneweis was released by the Boston Red Sox on the anniversary of his wife’s death.
And Shalom: Making their debut: Ike Davis (New York Mets), Danlny Vaencia (Minnesota Twins), and Ryan Kalish (Red Sox).
Davis hit 19 home runs while playing a stellar defense at first base, while third-sacker Valencia batted .311. Both finished among the top 10 vote-getters for their league’s Rookie of the Year award.
Kalish was an interesting story. He didn’t “come out” as Jewish until after the season because, according to his father, Steven, he didn’t want to “rock the boat” as a rookie. Kalish’s father is Jewish, but his mother is Catholic; he was baptized and attended Catholic school. In recent years, however, he decided he did not believe in a deity and after the 2010 season informed Jewish Sports Review — the go-to source for such issues — that he was amenable to being included among Jewish Major Leaguers. As such, he “qualifies” as a Jewish athlete under JSR’s editorial guidelines.
Mish mosh: Scott Fuld (Cubs) and Adam Stern (Brewers) appeared briefly during the season. Youkilis was named Jewish Major Leaguer of the Decade by Jewish Majors Leaguers Inc., who announced it would cease production of its popular baseball card set. Braun and Breslow were named 2010’s JML hitter and pitcher, respectively. Jews and Baseball: An American Love Story became a hit on the Jewish film festival circuit.
Quarterback Sage Rosenfels spent the entire year (Minnesota Vikings, 2009-10; NY Giants, 2010-2011) without throwing a pass in a regular season game. Although he was the regular holder for the placekicker, Rosenfels appeared behind center in just one blow-out. The Giants finished at 10-6 but were eliminated from the playoffs on the last day of the season.
After playing just two games in 2009-10, nose tackle and Rahway native Antonio Garay appeared in all 16 games this season, collecting 48 combined tackles (38 solo and 10 assisted) for the San Diego Chargers. Teammate David Binn — who holds the franchise record for games played — sustained a leg injury that kept him out of the entire season.
Igor Olshansky had 38 tackles (21/17) in 16 games for the Dallas Cowboys. Teammate Kyle Kosier appeared in 13 games as a guard.
Adam Podlesh (Jacksonville Jaguars) averaged 43.8 yards on 57 punts, putting 26 of them inside the 20-yard line.
Greg Camarillo (Minnesota Vikings) made 20 catches for 240 yards and scored one touchdown.
Sophomore guard Geoff Schwartz started all 16 games for the Carolina Panthers.
Shalom: Taylor Mays, a safety for the San Francisco 49ers, and Erik Lorig, who played multiple positions for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, made their debut in 2010.
Mish-mosh: Gabe Carimi won the Outland Trophy as the best interior lineman in college football and led the University of Wisconsin Badgers to a Rose Bowl appearance on Jan. 1, where they lost to the TCU Horned Frogs, 21-19. Carimi is expected to be a first-round pick in the next NFL draft. North of the border, head coach Marc Trestman led the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League to their second consecutive Grey Cup championship.
Jordan Farmar, who won a championship ring with the Los Angeles Lakers last season, signed as a free agent with the NJ Nets. Omri Casspi, the first Israeli in the NBA, is still adjusting to the rigors of a demanding 82-game schedule with the Sacramento Kings.
In college hoops, Jon Sheyer, who led the Duke Blue Devils to the 2010 NCAA Championships, was not signed by a professional team and sustained an eye injury during the NBA summer league, a showcase for aspiring players.
With the 2010-110 NHL season still underway, Michael Cammalleri and Jeff Halpern have the Montreal Canadiens second in the Northeast Division. Other Jewish players include Eric Nystrom (Minnesota Wild) and Mike Brown (Toronto Maple Leafs). Dylan Reese has been back-and-forth for the NY Islanders.
Yuri Foreman lost in his first title defense when he was stopped in the ninth round by Miguel Cotto before a crowd of more than 20,000 at Yankee Stadium in June. He had beaten Daniel Santos by a TKO for the World Boxing Association super-welterweight crown in 2009 to become became the first Orthodox-Jewish boxer in more than 50 years to win a world championship.
Dmitry Salita knocked out James Wayka in the third round of their Dec. 16 bout to take the New York State welterweight title. Salita — who beat Franklin Gonzalez on Sept. 1, his only other fight in 2010 — improved his record to 32-1-1 with 17 knockouts.
Israel sent three athletes — alpine skier Mykhaylo Renzyhn and brother-sister ice-dancing team Roman and Alexandra Zaretsky — to the Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver in February. Steve Meisler won a gold medal for the United States as a member of the four-man bobsled team. Charlie White, a Jewish ice dancer, teamed with Meryl Davis to win a silver medal for the United States American biathlete Laura Spector also participated in the Games.
Wrestler Bill Goldberg, Olympic swimmer Jason Lezak, college basketball coach Seth Greenberg, college volleyball coach Russ Rose, former NFL lineman Alan Veingrad, Achilles Track Club founder Dick Traum, and female judo champion Rusty Kanokogi were inducted into the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.
Veteran sportswriters/authors Maury Allen (a resident of Cedar Grove) and Vic Ziegel…Irwin Drambel, a key figure in the 1950 college basketball point-shaving scandal…sports documentary filmmaker Bud Greenspan.
JTA contributed to this article.