ATLANTIS — Major League Baseball had a rare story when the Atlanta Braves hosted the Baltimore Orioles on Friday night. For only the fifth time, both starting pitchers on opposing teams were Jewish, researchers say. In fact, the last time this happened in a regular season game was in 1977.
Max Fried, a 29-year-old southpaw and one of the best young pitchers in the game, took the mound for the NL-leading Braves. The Santa Monica native, who the Jewish Telegraphic Agency said was a member of the 2009 gold medal-winning 18th World Maccabiah Juniors American baseball team, was roughed up by the O’s in his worst start so far this season. Fried allowed seven runs (five earned) in six innings, including two homers, while striking out seven.
Meanwhile, Orioles starter Dean Kremer, a rising star who pitched for Israel at the World Baseball Classic this year, conceded just one run in six innings, striking out three batters en route. to his third victory of the season. The Orioles won the game 9-4, improving to 22-10, while the Braves fell to 22-11, making them the second- and third-best teams in MLB, respectively.
Kremer, who has emerged as a strong mid-rotation starter for the red hot Orioles, holds dual American and Israeli citizenship. He is the first Israeli to be drafted by an MLB team (originally drafted by the San Diego Padres in 2015), and became the first-ever Israeli to pitch in an MLB game when he made his debut with the Orioles in 2020. Fried is a former first-round pick, also by the Padres.
According to the Jewish Baseball Museum, Major League Baseball has not had two Jewish starters in the same game since June 22, 1977, when Ken Holtzman won the mound for the New York Yankees against Dave Roberts and the Detroit Tigers. The other three games include the same clash on September 24, 1976; Steve Stone of the San Francisco Giants took the mound against Roberts (on the Padres at the time) on June 20, 1971; and Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax pitched for the Los Angeles Dodgers against Holtzman, then the Cubs, on September 25, 1966.
Jewish opposing starting pitchers:
Sandy Koufax, Dodgers, vs. Ken Holtzman, Cubs, Sept. 25, 1966
Steve Stone, Giants, vs. Dave Roberts, Padres, June 20, 1971
Holtzman, Yankees, vs. Roberts, Tigers, Sept. 24, 1976
Holtzman, Yankees, vs. Roberts, Tigers, June 22, 1977
— JewishBaseballMuseum (@JewishBBMuseum) May 5, 2023
Ironically, the latter case fell on Shabbat, in which Orthodox and more conservative Jews generally do not work.
Other prominent Jewish players in MLB over the years include:
- Hank Greenberg: Hall of Famer and one of the greatest power hitters in baseball history, Greenberg played primarily for the Detroit Tigers in the 1930s and 1940s. He was a five-time All-Star and won two MVP awards.
- Sandy Koufax: Widely considered one of the greatest pitchers of all time, Koufax played for the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers from 1955 to 1966. He was a 7-time All-Star, 3-time Cy Young Award winner, and 2 – times MVP of the World Series. Koufax was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1972.
- Al Rosen: Rosen played for the Cleveland Indians from 1947 to 1956 and was a four-time All-Star. In 1953, he won the American League MVP award after leading the league in home runs, RBIs and slugging percentage.
- Shawn Green: A hard-hitting outfielder, Green played from 1993 to 2007, primarily for the Toronto Blue Jays and Los Angeles Dodgers. He was a 2-time All-Star and won both a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger Award.
- Ian Kinsler: A versatile infielder, Kinsler played from 2006 to 2019, primarily with the Texas Rangers and Detroit Tigers. He was a four-time All-Star and won two Gold Glove awards.
- Alex Bregman: The current Houston Astros third baseman, Bregman was a key member of the Astros’ two winning teams in 2019 and 2022. Since his debut in 2016, he’s a 2-time All-Star and won a Silver award Slugger in 2019.
According to the Jewish Journal, there are 14 Jews currently on major league rosters. In addition to Fried, Kremer and Bregman, they include Harrison Bader (Yankees), Dalton Guthrie and Garrett Stubbs (Phillies), Joc Pederson (Giants), Kevin Pillar and Jared Shuster (Braves), Rowdy Tellez (Brewers), Jake Bird ( Rockies), Richard Bleier (Red Sox), Eli Morgan (Guardians) and Matt Mervis (Cubs).