Working the diamond
The following Jewish baseball players — on a major league roster as of last week — have at least one Jewish parent and were raised either Jewish or secular.
Ryan Braun, 31, outfielder, Milwaukee Brewers. Braun was the National League Rookie of the Year in 2007, the only Jewish player ever to win this award. One of the best hitters in baseball, he followed a 65-game suspension in 2013 for using performance-enhancing drugs with a so-so 2014 season, then had hand surgery in the off-season. Craig Breslow, 34, relief pitcher, Boston Red Sox. Like for Braun, 2015 will be a pivotal test season for the former Oakland hurler. He missed part of 2014 with injuries and his stats were below his career averages. He’s an honors grad from Yale. Ike Davis, 28, first baseman, Oakland A’s. Davis broke in with the New York Mets in 2010, then was traded to Pittsburgh last season. Traded to the A’s in the off-season, the left-handed hitter has power, but suffers from anemic batting streaks. Scott Feldman, 32, starting pitcher, Houston Astros. A 10-year veteran, the Burlingame High grad had a good season in 2014 with a career best ERA of 3.74, but inconsistency has left him with a career record of 59-70 coming into 2015. Sam Fuld, 33, outfielder, Oakland A’s. Starting in center field and leading off for the A’s with Coco Crisp injured, Fuld is great defensive player and fair-to-good hitter at times. Ian Kinsler, 32, second baseman, Detroit Tigers. Named several times to the American League all-star team, including last year, Kinsler has speed and power. Ryan Lavarnway, 27, catcher, Baltimore Orioles. The Yale grad has been shuttling between the majors and minors since being called up in 2011 by Boston. Jason Marquis, 36, starting pitcher, Cincinnati Reds. The much-traveled Marquis broke into the majors in 2000, and has had some good seasons, but he missed all of 2014 after having Tommy John surgery. Joc Pederson, 22, outfielder, Los Angeles Dodgers. Great things are expected from the Palo Alto native, who was called up last September after a stellar minor league season. He played for Israel in the 2012 World Baseball Classic qualifying round. Kevin Pillar, 26, outfielder, Toronto Blue Jays. A native of Los Angeles, he has been shuttling between the minors and the big club since mid-2013. Danny Valencia, 30, third baseman, Toronto Blue Jays. In Pillar and Valencia, the Blue Jays have two players who actually had bar mitzvahs. Valencia had a 2014 good season, with two teams.
In total, there were 11 Jewish players on opening-day rosters this season, three more than in both 2013 and 2014. Nate Freiman, 28, would have liked it to have been 12, but the Oakland A’s first baseman began the year on the disabled list with a back injury.
Unlikely screen romance
Set to open locally on May 1 is “Felix and Meira,” a Canadian film mostly in French (with some English and Yiddish) about the unlikely romance of a non-Jewish atheist (Felix) and a Hassidic woman (Meira) in Montreal. Israeli actress Hadas Yaron, 25, plays Meira. Her Hassidic husband is played by Luzer Twersky, 33, a former real-life Hassid who helped Yaron with her Yiddish. A review in Variety praised the actors and the film, but also said the movie stumbled in the last act with misplaced humor. It also described the ending as “severely miscalculated.”
Katie Couric’s connections
Back in 2004, journalist Katie Couric revealed for the first time that her mother was Jewish, although she herself was raised Protestant. She was then engaged to Tom Werner, now 65, a prominent TV show creator and executive. While that marriage never happened, Couric’s present spouse, investment banker John Molner, 52, whom she wed last summer, is Jewish. This is Couric’s first marriage since she was widowed in 1997. Both Couric, 58, and Molner have children from prior marriages.
Columnist Nate Bloom, an Oaklander, can be reached at email@example.com.