Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
Back to Opinion

Jews on 1st? Baseball and the Quest for Identity

Paul Goldschmidt, Jason Kipnis Image by Wikimedia Commons

This year’s Major League Baseball All Stars game had two arguably Jewish players on the roster (out of 78 players total): second-baseman Jason Kipnis of Cleveland (American League) and first-baseman Paul Goldschmidt of Arizona (National League). Both have Jewish fathers and Christian mothers (same as the two arguably Jewish players on last year’s All Star roster, Ian Kinsler and Ryan Braun).

Two out of 78 comes to 2.5%, slightly above the Jewish percentage in the overall population. So what, you ask? We’ll get to that.

As luck would have it, those two happened to be the guys who made the game’s final plays for their respective leagues. Goldschmidt got the last hit for the losing National League, a two-out double in the bottom of the ninth inning. In the next play, Kipnis wrapped up a 3-0 win for the American League by catching a pop-up from Pedro Alvarez of Pittsburgh.

Does it matter, if their mothers aren’t Jewish and they don’t practice Judaism? I’d say it does. Braun (“the Hebrew Hammer”), Kinsler and Kipnis all consider themselves proud Jews (don’t know enough about Goldschmidt). They willingly put themselves forward as role models for Jewish kids looking for heroes and, all too frequently, struggling with issues of masculinity and Jewish identity. We should count ourselves blessed to live in a time when people are yearning to get counted in, not out.

So here’s my question: what’s with all the Jewish first basemen?

Think about it. The Mets now have two rotating with each other, Isaac Benjamin Davis and Josh Satin. Kevin Youkilis, who now plays across town with the Yankees, was a star first baseman with Boston for years (last year and this he was playing third and occasionally first before he went on the disabled list). Throw in Nate Freiman of the Oakland As and you have a real trend going. None of them matches up as all-around players to the great Hank Greenberg, of course—nor even to Shawn Green, who spent several seasons at first base for the Dodgers and the Diamondbacks. Still, it raises the classic question: Jews on first?

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

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.