Last March, I went to the Tampa to watch some spring training baseball with my dad and friends Zvee, Dan and Henry. While we were watching Jason Marquis pitch, Henry pointed out that we were privileged to be watching one of the greatest Jewish baseball players of all-time. He also mentioned that, as it stands, the list of great Jewish baseball players isn’t all that impressive.
Recently, Justin Morneau hit his 30th home run for the Twins, making him the first Twins player to hit 30 in a season since 1987. It also made him only the fourth Canadian to hit 30 homers.
So here’s the question: if you assembled two teams, one made up of the greatest Jewish ball players of all time and one made up of the best Canadians, which would win?
The best Canadian team (and feel free to disagree) would probably look something like this:
Larry Walker OF Had the luxury of playing in Coors before they starting freezing their balls.
Rob Ducey OF He was once traded for himself.
Corey Koskie 3B Koskie’s entry music when he comes to bat is usually a song by Rush, also Canadian.
Justin Morneau 1B Having one heck of a year.
George Selkirk RF Replaced Babe Ruth in the Yankees’ lineup in 1934, hit .290 over nine seasons, topping .300 five times and twice driving in more than 100 runs.
Bob Emslie P Was the first Canadian pitcher of note, and won more games in a big league season than any other Canadian, posting a 32-17 mark for the 1884 Baltimore Orioles. A poor start in 1885 sent him back to the minors, with a career major league record of just 44-44.
Ferguson Jenkins P Was probably the best Canadian player of all, a 6’5″ right-hander from Chatham, Ontario, who compiled a 284-226 record over nineteen seasons from 1965 to 1983. At his peak, Jenkins (the only Canadian-born Hall of Famer) won 20 games or more seven times in eight years.
Eric Gagne P Was on pace to become the most dominant closer ever. Then he went off the juice.
Rheal Cormier P Otherwise known in Philadelphia as the guy who only allows inherited runners to score, but never his own, leading to a deceptively low ERA.
The Jewish All-Star Team would look like this:
Moe Berg C Was not only a secret agent in Germany and Japan in the 1930s, but also worked in the OSS during World War II.
Hammerin’ Hank Greenberg 1B A four-time All-Star and two-time MVP in just nine seasons.
Buddy Myer SS Won the batting title in 1935.
Al Rosen 3B A four-time All-Star, led the league in dingers twice, had five straight 100-plus RBI campaigns, and won the MVP award in 1953.
Shawn Green OF A one-time 30-30 player, now finishing up his career with the Mets.
Sid Gordon OF A two-time All-Star who cranked 25-plus homers in five straight seasons and three years of 100-plus ribbies.
Gabe Kapler OF Gets included on this list just for having rock-hard abdominals.
Sandy Koufax P Just the greatest left-handed pitcher of all time.
Ken Holtzman P Threw two no-hitters for the Cubs and won three World Series rings with the A’s.
As you can see, it was hard to field complete teams on either side. But at the end of the day, I have to say the Jewish team is a little more impressive. Koufax was the man. There aren’t any names like that on Team Canada. Who knows? Maybe in ten years we’ll look at the Canadian roster and see two future hall of famers in Justin Morneau and Eric Gagne? But for now, it’s the Hebrew squad all the way.