With the 2019 season just getting underway, Kevin Pillar, one of Major League Baseball’s veteran players has joined the San Francisco Giants. The former Toronto Blue Jay is a solid outfielder, a home run threat — and a proud Jewish role model.
Pillar, 30, is one of the game’s few Jewish players.
The Giants acquired Pillar in a trade that sent infielder Alen Hanson, ace relief pitcher Derek Law and a minor league player to Toronto.
Making his MLB debut in 2013 with the Blue Jays, Pillar has been a steady offensive player throughout his career, sporting a .260 batting average. Last season he hit 15 homeruns and knocked in 59 RBI.
A native of Southern California, Pillar has a Jewish mother and a non-Jewish father. He had a bar mitzvah as a teen, and while playing in Toronto he addressed 500 young Jewish athletes at a Maccabi Canada event.
In a 2016 interview with Philadelphia’s Jewish Exponent, Pillar spoke of the importance of Jewish kids having athletes they can look up to.
“I know they’re proud and watching and support me,” he said. “That’s the special part, because there are not a lot of Jewish players. I just like being that role model for the kid who believes he can’t play a professional sport. I’ve become that for them.”
Pillar is one of several prominent Jewish ballplayers this season, among them Milwaukee Brewer Ryan Braun, L.A. Angel Ian Kinsler, Baltimore Oriole Danny Valencia and Cincinnati Red relief pitcher Zach Weiss.