Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe
Fast Forward

A Koufax counterpoint: Max Fried makes World Series history with shutout performance

If you’re a Jewish baseball fan, you likely know the story of Sandy Koufax in the 1965 World Series — when he became famous for sitting out on Yom Kippur.

On Tuesday night, Max Fried — like Koufax, a Jewish southpaw — provided a historic counterpoint: he entered the history books by taking the mound — and staying there.

The Atlanta Braves’ ace delivered the team to its first World Championship since 1995 with six shutout innings in Game 6 of a World Series heralded as the most Jewish in baseball history.

The 27-year-old lefty held the Houston Astros to four hits, overcoming a potentially serious injury to strike out six without surrendering a run or a walk.

In Koufax’s era, going six innings in a start was routine, even if the pitcher wasn’t having a terrific outing. Bullpens were smaller then, and strategy hadn’t evolved to limit the number of times a lineup faces the same pitcher.

By the time Fried took the mound, however, the average starting pitcher’s outing had fallen below five innings in Major League Baseball. Earlier in the series, Braves starter Ian Anderson was working on a no-hitter — only to be pulled after five innings.

The decline of the starter had prompted hand-wringing among the game’s commentariat. Considering some of the game’s great postseason pitching heroes, Sports Illustrated writer Emma Baccelieri said, “Baseball no longer allows such legends.”

But Fried, saving his best for last, made room for one more.


Get the Forward delivered to your inbox. Sign up here to receive our essential morning briefing of American Jewish news and conversation, the afternoon’s top headlines and best reads, and a weekly letter from our editor-in-chief.


With six shutout frames, he didn’t just go deeper into the game than any pitcher in this year’s series. He got more outs than any pitcher without allowing a run in a World Series clincher since 1985.

His mid-90s fastball scorched the catcher’s mitt and his slider — touching 90 mph for the first time all season — nosedived under the Astros’ bats. He wasn’t unhittable like Anderson, but he was pretty close. The Astros looked hapless against the lefty. They only scratched him for four singles.

Never mind good for the Jews — Fried’s performance was hailed as a []“victory for starting pitchers everywhere.”](https://www.si.com/mlb/2021/11/03/world-series-max-fried-game-6)

The clincher also contained what might have been the most Jewish play in any Major League Baseball matchup ever: In the bottom of the second inning, Astros star third baseman Alex Bregman stepped up to the plate and sliced a Fried fastball to the right field corner, where Braves outfielder Joc Pederson raced to snag it in foul territory for out number two.

To most fans, the sequence was a routine flyout. But to Jewish fans, the play showcased three Jewish players performing on the sport’s biggest stage.

For Pederson, who entered the series on a red-hot tear immortalized by his nickname Joctober, the victory gave him a second consecutive World Championship. Pederson played for the 2020 World Champion Los Angeles Dodgers. He celebrated the achievement with a cigar and his trademark pearl necklace.

The fourth Jewish player to appear in the World Series, Astros backup catcher Garrett Stubbs, entered the game as a defensive replacement in the ninth inning. He did not bat.

Fried’s success on the mound came after a scary moment in the bottom of the first inning. With the lanky pitcher covering first base on a ground ball, the Astros’ Michael Brantley came charging down the basepath, stepping on Fried’s ankle instead of the base. Replays showed Fried’s ankle almost flatten under Brantley’s cleat.

For his teammates and coaches, it was a frightening few moments. But Fried popped right back up and showed no ill effects.

“I just told myself that I was going to go out there and be 100% me, just try to pitch and try to win a ballgame,” Fried said after the win. “I knew I could empty the tank. I knew it was the last outing of the year. I was definitely running on fumes at the end of the playoffs, but I knew I had to be ready for one more.”

Aside from Fried’s sparkling Game 6 start, the Jewish players had a cold series. Pederson had just one hit in 15 at bats, while Bregman knocked two, one of them a double, in 21 at bats. Bregman also struck out seven times, to Pederson’s four.

Jacob Gurvis contributed reporting.

The post Max Fried pitches Atlanta Braves to first World Championship in 26 years appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Engage

  • Events

    Haart to Haart

    Virtual

    Dec 7, 2022

    7 pm ET · 

    A conversation with Julia Haart and her son Shlomo, stars of Netflix's 'My Unorthodox Life,' about the new season and much more.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.