(JTA) — The 2023 MLB season is almost upon us, and it has the potential to be a historic year for Jews in professional baseball.
Last year, 17 Jewish players appeared in a game — a likely record. This season, the number could be even higher.
The slate of Jewish players in the game this year features stars such as Max Fried and Alex Bregman, on-the-rise big league talent like Harrison Bader and Dean Kremer, and an impressive wave of minor league prospects on the cusp of the majors.
With the World Baseball Classic over and Spring Training winding down, there are plenty of storylines for Jewish fans to keep an eye on, including a number of Jewish teammate pairs — and even a possible trio.
Opening Day is next Thursday. Here is a complete guide to every Jewish player to watch in 2023.
The big leaguers
Max Fried, Atlanta Braves, starting pitcher: Fried is arguably the best Jewish player in baseball — and one of the best pitchers, period. Fried was an All-Star for the first time last season, finished second for the National League Cy Young award and has won three Gold Gloves in a row for his defense. The Los Angeles native grew up idolizing fellow Jewish lefty ace Sandy Koufax.
Alex Bregman, Houston Astros, third baseman: Bregman returned to form in 2022, hitting 23 home runs with 93 runs batted in as the Astros won the World Series. The two-time All-Star has become one of the best postseason hitters of his generation, setting all-time records for most home runs and RBIs among third basemen. Bregman has been an active member of the Houston Jewish community.
Joc Pederson, San Francisco Giants, outfielder: Pederson is entering his second season playing for manager Gabe Kapler’s Giants. Last year was his best since 2019, as he notched 23 home runs, a .274 batting average and his second career All-Star selection. Pederson played for Team Israel in the 2023 WBC and even helped recruit fellow Jewish big leaguers to the team.
Harrison Bader, New York Yankees, outfielder: Bader will likely begin his first full season in New York on the injured list — injuries that kept him from playing for Team Israel, which he had committed to do. In parts of six seasons in the big leagues, spent almost entirely in St. Louis, Bader has become known for his elite defense in the outfield — he won a Gold Glove in 2021 — and last fall became a breakout star for the Yankees in the playoffs. Bader’s father, who is Jewish, told the Forward that his son is considering formally converting to Judaism.
Dean Kremer, Baltimore Orioles, starting pitcher: Born in California to Israeli parents, Kremer was the first Israeli drafted into the MLB. He told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency during the WBC that Israel is “like another home.” Kremer was very good for Baltimore in 2022, posting a 3.32 earned-run average (ERA) in 21 starts — highlighted by a complete game shutout against Bregman’s Astros in September.
Rowdy Tellez, Milwaukee Brewers, first baseman: Tellez has the most power of any Jewish player, crushing 35 home runs in 2022. In one game in May, Tellez hit two home runs on his way to a historic 8-RBI game for the Brewers. Tellez, who had a Jewish mother and a father with Mexican heritage, considered playing for Israel in the WBC but opted to represent Mexico.
Eli Morgan, Cleveland Guardians, relief pitcher: Last year was Morgan’s first season as a reliever, and it seemed to be the right move for the 26-year-old righty. Morgan appeared in 50 games for Cleveland, posting a 3.38 ERA — though his first half (2.83 ERA) was much stronger than his second half (4.26 ERA). Morgan originally planned to play for Israel in the WBC but ultimately did not join the team.
Garrett Stubbs, Philadelphia Phillies, catcher: Stubbs played in 46 games for the Phillies as the backup behind J.T. Realmuto, the best catcher in baseball. Stubbs delivered the game-winning hit in Israel’s lone WBC victory, while playing third base for the first time, and has already said he will play for Israel again in 2026. (His younger brother C.J. is a catcher in the Astros system and replaced Garrett on Team Israel following an injury earlier this month.)
Richard Bleier, Boston Red Sox, relief pitcher: After not making it to the big leagues until he was 29, Bleier has grown into a reliable reliever across seven MLB seasons, with a 3.06 career ERA. Bleier was traded to Chaim Bloom’s Red Sox this offseason after two years in Miami — where his most famous (and unfortunate) moment was a three-balk at bat last year. Bleier pitched for Israel in the 2023 WBC.
Jake Bird, Colorado Rockies, relief pitcher: Bird made his MLB debut last summer and would go on to pitch in 38 games for the Rockies out of the bullpen. Bird was originally on Israel’s WBC roster but dropped out at the last minute due to injury.
Zack Weiss, Los Angeles Angels, relief pitcher: Weiss debuted in 2018, but it did not go well: he allowed four runs, including two home runs, without recording an out. That meant his earned run average was — and this is real — infinite. Four years later, Weiss made it back to the big leagues with the Angels, appearing in 12 games with a more respectable 3.38 ERA. After a solid stint with Israel in the WBC, Weiss is expected to factor into the Angels bullpen this season, though he could start the season in the minor leagues. Weiss has talked about attending Rosh Hashanah services as a minor leaguer in Montana.
Dalton Guthrie, Philadelphia Phillies, utility player: Guthrie is the most recent Jewish ballplayer to debut, joining the Phillies in September. He played in 14 games for the National League champions, and even appeared in a postseason game. Guthrie is the son of former MLB pitcher Mark Guthrie, who played for eight teams across a 15-year career.
Scott Effross, New York Yankees, relief pitcher: Effross is likely to miss all of 2023 after undergoing ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction (known as Tommy John surgery). Before his injury, Effross, who wears a Star of David necklace on the mound, was excellent for the Chicago Cubs and Yankees last year, with a 2.54 ERA in 60 games. Effross also would have played for Israel had he not gotten hurt.
(Also worth noting: Chicago White Sox ace Dylan Cease, the 2022 American League Cy Young runner-up, does not identify as Jewish but was on Israel’s preliminary roster of eligible players for the 2023 WBC.)
There are a number of Jewish players who are on the brink of breaking into the big leagues — including a few who could even make Opening Day rosters.
Jared Shuster, Atlanta Braves, starting pitcher: Shuster is the top prospect in the Atlanta organization, and in the midst of a stellar Spring Training, with a 1.45 ERA through 18.2 innings. He has a serious shot of securing the final spot in the Braves rotation to begin 2023. He was a first-round draft pick in 2020 and played in the MLB Futures Game last year.
Matt Mervis, Chicago Cubs, first baseman: Mervis played for Israel in the WBC and though he begins the season in the minors, he is almost certain to join the big-league team this season. The Washington, D.C., native belted 36 home runs in the minors last year, hitting .309 with 119 runs batted in while rising through the Cubs’ system at an impressive pace.
Zack Gelof, Oakland Athletics, second baseman: Another Israel player, Gelof will begin the season in the minors but is expected to make his debut this year. The 23-year-old is Oakland’s No. 3 ranked prospect and was a second-round pick in the 2021 draft. (His younger brother, Jake, currently plays at the University of Virginia and is seen as a possible first round pick this year.)
Spencer Horwitz, Toronto Blue Jays, outfielder: Horwitz played with Gelof and Mervis in the WBC, and will also start 2023 in the minors. But the 25-year-old Maryland native is a candidate to crack into the big leagues at some point this season as depth for the loaded Blue Jays.
Other minor leaguers with MLB experience
Kevin Pillar, Atlanta Braves, outfielder: The MLB veteran signed a minor league deal with the Braves this offseason and has a chance at securing a spot on Atlanta’s bench entering the year. Pillar has embraced his status as a Jewish ballplayer.
Jake Fishman, Oakland Athletics, relief pitcher: The Team Israel pitcher made his MLB debut with (who else) the Marlins last season, and begins 2023 at the Triple A level with Gelof. He could be called up as bullpen depth.
Bubby Rossman, New York Mets, relief pitcher: Rossman made his debut last year with the Phillies, and it also did not go well. But after a strong stretch with Team Israel, Rossman begins the year in the New York Mets system. Despite his Yiddish-sounding name, Rossman is only 30.
Ryan Sherriff, Boston Red Sox, relief pitcher: Sherriff has four years of big-league experience under his belt with the Cardinals and the Tampa Bay Rays. He signed a minor league deal with the Red Sox this offseason.
Kenny Rosenberg, Los Angeles Angels, relief pitcher: Rosenberg made his debut for the Angels last April and appeared in three games over the course of the season. He begins the year in the minors but has a shot to be called back up as bullpen depth.
Robert Stock, Milwaukee Brewers, starting pitcher: Stock has pitched for four MLB teams across four seasons, plus a year in the Korean professional league last year. Stock pitched for Israel in 2023 and will begin the season in Triple A.
Phyllis Pollock died at home Sunday September 3, 2023 in Winnipeg, after a courageous lifetime battle with cancer.
Phyllis was a mother of four: Gary (Laura), daughter Randi, Steven (deceased in 2010) (Karen), and Robert. Phyllis also had two grandchildren: Lauren and Quinn.
Born in Fort Frances, Ontario on February 7, 1939, Phyllis was an only child to Ruby and Alex Lerman. After graduating high school, Phyllis moved to Winnipeg where she married and later divorced Danny Pollock, the father of her children. She moved to Beverly Hills in 1971, where she raised her children.
Phyllis had a busy social life and lucrative real estate career that spanned over 50 years, including new home sales with CoastCo. Phyllis was the original sales agent for three buildings in Santa Monica, oceanfront: Sea Colony I, Sea Colony II, and Sea Colony. She was known as the Sea Colony Queen. She worked side by side with her daughter Randi for about 25 years – handling over 600 transactions, including sales and leases within the three phases of Sea Colony alone.
Phyllis had more energy than most people half her age. She loved entertaining, working in the real estate field, meeting new and interesting people everyday no matter where she went, and thrived on making new lifelong friends. Phyllis eventually moved to the Sea Colony in Santa Monica where she lived for many years before moving to Palm Desert, then Winnipeg.
After battling breast cancer four times in approximately 20 years, she developed metastatic Stage 4 lung cancer. Her long-time domestic partner of 27 years, Joseph Wilder, K.C., was the love of her life. They were never far apart. They traveled the world and went on many adventures during their relationship. During her treatment, Phyllis would say how much she missed work and seeing her clients. Joey demonstrated amazing strength, love, care, and compassion for Phyllis as her condition progressed. He was her rock and was by her side 24/7, making sure she had the best possible care. Joey’s son David was always there to support Phyllis and to make her smile. Joey’s other children, Sheri, Kenny, Joshua and wife Davina, were also a part of her life. His kids would Facetime Phyllis and include her during any of their important functions. Phyllis loved Joey’s children as if they were her own.
Thank you to all of her friends and family who were there to support her during these difficult times. Phyllis is now, finally, pain free and in a better place. She was loved dearly and will be greatly missed. Interment took place in Los Angeles.
Gwen Centre Creative Living Centre celebrates 35th anniversary
By BERNIE BELLAN Over 100 individuals gathered at the Gwen Secter Centre on Tuesday evening, July 18 – under the big top that serves as the venue for the summer series of outdoor concerts that is now in its third year at the centre.
The occasion was the celebration of the Gwen Secter Centre’s 35th anniversary. It was also an opportunity to honour the memory of Sophie Shinewald, who passed away at the age of 106 in 2019, but who, as recently as 2018, was still a regular attendee at the Gwen Secter Centre.
As Gwen Secter Executive Director Becky Chisick noted in her remarks to the audience, Sophie had been volunteering at the Gwen Secter Centre for years – answering the phone among other duties. Becky remarked that Sophie’s son, Ed Shinewald, had the phone number for the Gwen Secter Centre stored in his phone as “Mum’s work.”
Remarks were also delivered by Raquel Dancho, Member of Parliament for Kildonan-St. Paul, who was the only representative of any level of government in attendance. (How times have changed: I remember well the steadfast support the former Member of the Legislature for St. John’s, Gord Mackintosh, showed the Gwen Secter Centre when it was perilously close to being closed down. And, of course, for years, the area in which the Gwen Secter Centre is situated was represented by the late Saul Cherniack.)
Sophie Shinewald’s granddaughter, Alix (who flew in from Chicago), represented the Shinewald family at the event. (Her brother, Benjamin, who lives in Ottawa, wasn’t able to attend, but he sent a pre-recorded audio message that was played for the audience.)
Musical entertainment for the evening was provided by a group of talented singers, led by Julia Kroft. Following the concert, attendees headed inside to partake of a sumptuous assortment of pastries, all prepared by the Gwen Secter culinary staff. (And, despite my asking whether I could take a doggy bag home, I was turned down.)
Palestinian gunmen kill 4 Israelis in West Bank gas station
This is a developing story.
(JTA) — Palestinian gunmen killed four people and wounded four in a terror attack at a gas station near the West Bank settlement of Eli, the Israeli army reported.
An Israeli civilian returning fire at the scene of the attack on Tuesday killed one of the attackers, who emerged from a vehicle, and two others fled.
Kan, Israel’s public broadcaster, said one of those wounded was in serious condition. The gunmen, while in the vehicle, shot at a guard post at the entry to the settlement, and then continued to the gas station which is also the site of a snack bar. A nearby yeshiva went into lockdown.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced plans to convene a briefing with top security officials within hours of the attack. Kan reported that there were celebrations of the killing in major West Bank cities and in the Gaza Strip, initiated by terrorist groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Hamas said the shooting attack Tuesday was triggered by the Jenin raid.
The shooting comes as tensions intensify in the West Bank. A day earlier, Israeli troops raiding the city of Jenin to arrest accused terrorists killed five people.
The Biden administration spoke out over the weekend against Israel’s plans to build 4,000 new housing units for Jewish settlers in the West Bank. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also finalized plans to transfer West Bank building decisions to Bezalel Smotrich, the extremist who is the finance minister. Smotrich has said he wants to limit Palestinian building and expand settlement building.
Kan reported that the dead terrorist was a resident of a village, Urif, close to Huwara, the Palestinian town where terrorists killed two Israeli brothers driving through in February. Settlers retaliated by raiding the village and burning cars and buildings.
The post Palestinian gunmen kill 4 Israelis in West Bank gas station appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.