Brad Ausmus Named First Jewish Manager of Detroit Tigers

Former Skipper of Team Israel Is Young for Job

A Jewish Skipper: A former manager of Team Israel, Brad Ausmus will be major league baseball’s sixth Jewish manager.
Getty Images
A Jewish Skipper: A former manager of Team Israel, Brad Ausmus will be major league baseball’s sixth Jewish manager.

By Dan Epstein

Published November 04, 2013, issue of November 08, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share

The Detroit Tigers announced that Brad Ausmus will be their new manager for 2014. The 44 year-old Ausmus replaces the 68 year-old Jim Leyland, who announced his retirement in late October, shortly after the Tigers lost the American League Championship Series to the Boston Red Sox. The hiring makes Ausmus the 38th skipper in Tigers franchise history — and their first Jewish one.

The Tigers’ hiring of Ausmus comes eighty years after Hank Greenberg — who also wore Detroit’s old English “D” — emerged as baseball’s first Jewish superstar. But while there’s been a steady stream of Jewish players in the big leagues since Greenberg’s heyday, Jewish managers have literally been scarcer than perfect games.

In fact, before now there had only been five Jewish skippers in the entire history of the major leagues: Lipman Pike, who in 1874 hit .355 as the player/manager of the Hartford Dark Blues; Lou Boudreau, who led the Cleveland Indians to their last World Series championship in 1948, and later managed the Boston Red Sox, Kansas City Athletics and Chicago Cubs; Norm Sherry, who managed the California Angels during the second half of the 1976 season and the first half of 1977; Seattle Mariners/Arizona Diamondbacks/Oakland Athletics skipper Bob Melvin (whose A’s lost to the Tigers in this year’s ALDS); and Jeff Newman, who served as the Oakland A’s interim manager for 10 games in 1986. Ausmus is now number six.

Inducted into the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 2004, Ausmus currently holds the record for most games played by a Jewish major leaguer (1,971); he ranks fifth in career hits among Jewish players (1,579) and eighth in career runs batted in (607). He also served as the manager of Team Israel in the 2012 and 2013 World Baseball Classics, though to date this remains his only managerial experience in organized baseball.

That lack of experience has raised the eyebrows of more than a few fans and pundits, who have expressed surprise that the Tigers would be willing to trust their high-priced roster —which includes Miguel Cabrera, Justin Verlander, Prince Fielder and likely American League Cy Young winner Max Scherzer — to a man who has never even coached a game in the minors. However, the Dartmouth-educated former catcher showed ample evidence of leadership abilities and a keen baseball intellect during his 18-year playing career, which included two stints with the Tigers, and he’s well-respected among players and executives alike; rumor had it that he was also Theo Epstein’s preferred candidate to fill the Chicago Cubs’ managerial vacancy.

Time will tell whether or not the Tigers made the right choice, but their hiring of Ausmus certainly fits in with the current mini-trend of teams tapping smart-but-inexperienced former players to pick up where their veteran skippers have left off. Mike Matheny, a similarly inexperienced former catcher who was hired by the St. Louis Cardinals in November 2011 after Tony LaRussa called it a career, has already taken his team into the playoffs twice, including a trip to this year’s World Series. Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski, who watched his team win its division three years running before falling frustratingly short in the post-season, is hoping that Ausmus — with help from Leyland’s bench coach Gene Lamont, who has agreed to stay on with the team — will provide the necessary spark that will result in Detroit’s first World Series championship since 1984. Should Ausmus achieve that lofty goal, he’ll become the first Jewish manager since Lou Boudreau to lead a team to October glory.

Dan Epstein is the author of “Big Hair & Plastic Grass: A Funky Ride Through Baseball and America in the Swinging 70s.”


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.