American Jews and America's Game


American Jews and America's Game

Voices of a Growing Legacy in Baseball

Larry Ruttman
Foreword by Bud Selig
Introduction by Martin Abramowitz

544 pages
75 photographs, 2 drawings

eBook (EPUB)
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August 2018


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April 2013


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March 2015


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eBook (PDF)
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April 2013


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About the Book

Most fans don’t know how far the Jewish presence in baseball extends beyond a few famous players such as Greenberg, Rosen, Koufax, Holtzman, Green, Ausmus, Youkilis, Braun, and Kinsler. In fact, that presence extends to the baseball commissioner Bud Selig, labor leaders Marvin Miller and Don Fehr, owners Jerry Reinsdorf and Stuart Sternberg, officials Theo Epstein and Mark Shapiro, sportswriters Murray Chass, Ross Newhan, Ira Berkow, and Roger Kahn, and even famous Jewish baseball fans like Alan Dershowitz and Barney Frank. 

The life stories of these and many others, on and off the field, have been compiled from nearly fifty in-depth interviews and arranged by decade in this edifying and entertaining work of oral and cultural history. In American Jews and America’s Game each person talks about growing up Jewish and dealing with Jewish identity, assimilation, intermarriage, future viability, religious observance, anti-Semitism, and Israel. Each tells about being in the midst of the colorful pantheon of players who, over the past seventy-five years or more, have made baseball what it is. Their stories tell, as no previous book has, the history of the larger-than-life role of Jews in America’s pastime.

Author Bio

Larry Ruttman, Fellow of the Massachusetts Historical Society, is the author of Voices of Brookline, a national finalist for the Award of Merit of the American Association of State and Local History. He has practiced law in Boston for more than fifty years and produces and hosts a television interview show in his hometown of Brookline, Massachusetts.


“This book of intimate and revealing conversations with Jews who care passionately about baseball is a surprise and delight. . . . In the tradition of Studs Terkel, Ruttman’s warm and folksy style lets us feel like we’re in the room with them as they share their thoughts and feelings about Judaism, baseball, and life. It’s a great read. Ruttman has a gift for bringing people out and the results are fabulous.”—Rabbi Rebecca T. Alpert, associate professor of religion at Temple University and author of Out of Left Field: Jews and Black Baseball

“There may well be more books about Jews and baseball than there are Jews who played professional baseball. But this one is different. Here baseball’s most interesting Jews speak in their own words about their lives, their love of the game, and above all about their Judaism. Informative, inspiring, historically significant, and a pleasure to read, this is a book that anybody who cares about America’s game or America’s Jews will cherish.”—Jonathan D. Sarna, author of American Judaism: A History and chief historian of the National Museum of American Jewish History

American Jews and America’s Game is a highly accessible book about the game America’s Jews love to love. The author allows his subjects great latitude to comment on their Jewishness and their association with the game. The interviewees range from baseball’s best to ordinary fans, united around their faith and favorite sport. This is an enjoyable read.”—Daniel Kurtzer, former U.S. ambassador to Egypt and Israel and the first commissioner of the Israel Baseball League

“The historian Jacques Barzun was right when he said, ‘Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball.’ Larry Ruttman knows that too, and that is why I chose to write this Foreword to his book American Jews and America's Game. His stories cover almost one hundred years of American history and the place of American Jews in that history. . . . This is a book that celebrates family—baseball’s, yours, and mine.”—from the foreword by Allan H. “Bud” Selig, Commissioner of Major League Baseball

“[These] stories are a unique mix of baseball and reflection on [the interviewees’] lives as Jews. . . . These interviewees are for the most part conscious of the fact that although [their] values do in fact have roots in Judaism, they are also deeply rooted in the best of America’s culture and the American self-image.”—from the introduction by Martin Abramowitz, President of Jewish Major Leaguers, Inc.

American Jews And America’s Game is as much cultural history as it is baseball, and there is nothing quite comparable.”—Sol Gittleman, Tufts University former provost and professor, and author of Reynolds, Raschi and Lopat: New York’s Big Three and the Great Yankee Dynasty of 1949–1953

"This longtime attorney remains a gentle, always enthusiastic questioner, interested in his subjects' love for the game, their experiences with anti-Semitism and their connection to their faith."—Kirkus

"Jews have played a key role in baseball history, as has been frequently noted. There is now a celebratory tone to the topic, and this book is firmly within the new tradition."—Library Journal

"American Jews and America's Game is a highly personal, heartfelt collaborative exploration between the interviewer, his subject and its participants and devotees."—Andrew P. Fleischer, Jewish Journal

"[American Jews and America's Game is] a tremendous piece of work, and we're lucky to have it."—Rob Neyer,

"[American Jews and America's Game is an] edifying and entertaining work of oral and cultural history."—Jewish Book Council

“Handsomely produced and nicely illustrated. . . . The heart of the book is Larry Ruttman’s enthusiasm and total delight in meeting and talking with so many baseball personalities.”—Meron L. Waxman, Jewish Voice 

“A large, ambitious, and deeply personal work, this book attempts to define the Jewish-American experience through the prism of baseball. . . . Ruttman’s interviews, fifty in total, merit commendation for scope, respondent selection, and content.”—Journal of Sport History


“A history of Jews in baseball, as told by players, executives, and fans from the 1930s to right now. Told in a warm and folksy style with interviews and photos, thus it will be a classic in the sport and in the religion.”—Dana Brigham, Moment Magazine

“[This] book stands apart for focusing on the interviewees’ discussion of their Jewish and baseball identities, rather than their professional résumés alone.”—Hillel Kuttler, Haaretz

"This is a personal book, one man's immensely gratifying project."—Jewish Book World

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