NEWTON, Mass. – Baseball’s awards season concludes with the inauguration of a new tradition: The Chanukah season announcement of the Jewish Major Leaguers of the year.
The awards, presented by Jewish Major Leaguers Inc., were announced late last month by Martin Abramowitz, founder and president of the organization.
JML has named Boston infielder Kevin Youkilis as the JMVP (Jewish MVP) of 2008, beating out fellow all-stars Ryan Braun of Milwaukee and Ian Kinsler of Texas for the honor. Youkilis, third in American League MVP voting, had a .312-29-115 season with the Red Sox and set a Major League record by playing in 238 consecutive errorless games at first base, a streak that began in 2006.
Pittsburgh reliever John Grabow edged Minnesota’s Craig Breslow as the JML’s Pitcher of the Year, the “Barney Pelty Award.” Pelty who pitched for the old St. Louis Browns at the turn of the last century, is the all-time Jewish ERA leader, 2.63. Grabow had a 6-3 record with 4 saves in 74 appearances for the Pirates, posting a 2.84 ERA.
Gabe Kapler, who had retired and was managing in the minor leagues in 2007, easily captured the JML’s Comeback Player of the Year award, winning unanimously. Kapler hit .301 in 96 games for the Brewers last season, helping them reach the post-season for the first time since 1982.
“This has really been a ‘Golden Age’ for Jewish players in baseball,” noted Marty Appel, a baseball historian and JML Board member. “A dozen or so players, including a number of All-Stars have been populating rosters for the last few years.”
Jewish Major Leaguers is a not-for-profit educational organization whose mission is to celebrate the contributions of Jews to America’s national pastime. After issuing a set of cards featuring every known Jewish player in history in 2003, JML has continued with annual update editions including special features, and has hosted two symposiums at the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, last year honoring Hank Greenberg. A new edition will be available next summer.
For more information on the organization, visit www.jewishmajorleaguers.org