Red Sox Reliever Craig Breslow Brings Brains and Jewish Faith to Mound

Lefty Knows Biology, Tikkun Olam — and Mean Slider

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By Hillel Kutler

Published October 23, 2013.
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(JTA) — When Craig Breslow entered Saturday night’s playoff game against the Detroit Tigers, FOX broadcaster Tim McCarver hailed the Boston Red Sox reliever — a Yale University graduate with a double major in molecular biophysics and biochemistry — as the smartest player in Major League Baseball.

But with Breslow’s stellar performance this postseason, Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington is looking like the genius for acquiring the lefty in a trade last year.

In Boston’s first two playoff series this season, Breslow has pitched eight scoreless innings, allowing three hits and five walks while striking out seven.

He’ll likely be counted upon again in the World Series when the Red Sox take on the St. Louis Cardinals starting Wednesday.

While creating the impressive postseason resume, Breslow also has solidified Boston’s reputation as a hub for Jewish players. Back in 2006, in fact, Breslow was one of four Jewish players to play for the Red Sox, including Kevin Youkilis and Gabe Kapler.

This season, he’s not the only Jewish player and Yale alumnus on the team — there’s also catcher Ryan Lavarnway (now on the disabled list). Another Jewish player, outfielder Ryan Kalish, has been out all year with an injury.

Breslow, 33, has expressed his Jewish pride throughout his career, saying he has fasted on Yom Kippur even while playing.

He also has performed tikkun olam, the Hebrew term for “repair of the world,” with his charity efforts that include the Strike 3 Foundation he established in 2008 in the battle against cancer afflicting children (his younger sister is a survivor of thyroid cancer). For his charitable works, Breslow is this year’s Red Sox nominee for the prestigious Roberto Clemente Award handed out by Major League Baseball.


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