Why a Jewish Manager Might Win World Series For First Time Since 1948

Brad Ausmus of the Detroit Tigers Manages Great Expectations

No Panic in Detroit: Brad Ausmus ucceeds Jim Leyland who was the dictionary definition of a grizzled, old school manager.
Getty Images
No Panic in Detroit: Brad Ausmus ucceeds Jim Leyland who was the dictionary definition of a grizzled, old school manager.

By Dan Epstein

Published January 01, 2014, issue of January 10, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share

In November of last year, when Brad Ausmus was hired to be the new manager of the Detroit Tigers, a major milestone in Jewish baseball history was achieved. In addition to becoming the first Jewish skipper in the 119-year saga of one of baseball’s oldest and most respected franchises, Ausmus is also only the sixth manager of Jewish descent to helm a major league team on a non-interim basis, and just the eighth Jewish manager overall. And the 44-year-old Ausmus now has the opportunity to make an even greater contribution on behalf of Jews in the game.

To date, only one big league manager of Jewish extraction has ever led his team to a World Series championship: Lou Boudreau, player-manager of the Cleveland Indians when they won the Series in 1948. But while Boudreau was born to a Jewish mother, he was raised Catholic by his father and emphatically rejected his Jewish roots, thus leading many to dispute his place in Jewish baseball history. Therefore, if the Tigers win the World Series in 2014 (or in either of the two subsequent seasons on their new manager’s contract), Ausmus will be the first self-identified Jew to take his team to the “promised land.”

The Ausmus hiring is also part of major league baseball’s growing trend of front offices selecting smart-but-inexperienced former MLB players to manage their teams. A former All-Star catcher who retired from the game in 2010, Ausmus has no prior managerial experience in organized baseball beyond serving as the manager of Team Israel in the 2012 and 2013 World Baseball Classics. Still, the Tigers are betting that Ausmus’s impressive baseball intellect, and his ability to relate to his players as someone who only recently was still playing the game himself, will more than compensate for his lack of seasoning as a manager or coach.

Ausmus succeeds Jim Leyland, who was pretty much the dictionary definition of the grizzled and aloof “old school” manager, right down to a stubborn fixation with lefty-righty matchups and an equally stubborn refusal to integrate advanced metrics into his game plan. Ausmus is expected to take a much more nuanced and cerebral approach to running the Tigers, and the front office has made several off-season moves accordingly, becoming a more speed- and defense-oriented team in the process. If Ausmus can translate this into a World Series title for Detroit — something that Leyland was never able to achieve in his eight years at the helm, despite winning three straight division titles from 2011-13 — “old school” skippers may soon become an endangered species.

Dan Epstein is the author of “Big Hair and 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!
  • The rose petals have settled, and Andi has made her (Jewish?) choice. We look back on the #Bachelorette finale:
  • "Despite the great pain and sadness surrounding a captured soldier, this should not shape the face of this particular conflict – not in making concessions and not in negotiations, not in sobering assessments of this operation’s achievements or the need to either retreat or move forward." Do you agree?
  • Why genocide is always wrong, period. And the fact that some are talking about it shows just how much damage the war in Gaza has already done.
  • Construction workers found a 75-year-old deli sign behind a closing Harlem bodega earlier this month. Should it be preserved?
  • "The painful irony in Israel’s current dilemma is that it has been here before." Read J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis of the conflict:
  • Law professor Dan Markel waited a shocking 19 minutes for an ambulance as he lay dying after being ambushed in his driveway. Read the stunning 911 transcript as neighbor pleaded for help.
  • Happy birthday to the Boy Who Lived! July 31 marks the day that Harry Potter — and his creator, J.K. Rowling — first entered the world. Harry is a loyal Gryffindorian, a matchless wizard, a native Parseltongue speaker, and…a Jew?
  • "Orwell would side with Israel for building a flourishing democracy, rather than Hamas, which imposed a floundering dictatorship. He would applaud the IDF, which warns civilians before bombing them in a justified war, not Hamas terrorists who cower behind their own civilians, target neighboring civilians, and planned to swarm civilian settlements on the Jewish New Year." Read Gil Troy's response to Daniel May's opinion piece:
  • "My dear Penelope, when you accuse Israel of committing 'genocide,' do you actually know what you are talking about?"
  • What's for #Shabbat dinner? Try Molly Yeh's coconut quinoa with dates and nuts. Recipe here:
  • Can animals suffer from PTSD?
  • Is anti-Zionism the new anti-Semitism?
  • "I thought I was the only Jew on a Harley Davidson, but I was wrong." — Gil Paul, member of the Hillel's Angels. http://jd.fo/g4cjH
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • 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.