It’s Rosh Hashannah, the Jewish new year. Good Jews spend the day in synagogue reflecting, reading their machzor, and listening to the shofar, or ram’s horn. I will not be doing any of those things, as my work and teaching schedule has gotten in the way.
But Jewish law is widely known for flexibility, especially when it comes to sports. The Jerusalem Post has a really interesting article on obervances throughout US history, which recalls a 1934 Detroit News headline, “Talmud clears Greenberg for Holiday Play”, referencing Tiger star Hank Greenberg in a pennant race. Greenberg apparently had quite a day. A Cleveland paper characterized Greenberg’s two home runs as ‘blowing the shofar twice’ thus ‘making the ears of the Boston Red Sox ring’. The article also shares this tidbit from 1965:
Sandy Koufax, pitching star of the Los Angeles Dodgers, was with his team in Minneapolis for the opening game of the World Series. The game fell on Yom Kippur, so manager Walter Alston used his other ace, Don Drysdale, to open the series. Thus on Yom Kippur, Koufax attended services at a synagogue in Minneapolis while the Dodgers were losing the game in dramatic fashion. Whitfield found this quote from Drysdale to his manager when he was being taken out. “I bet right now you wish I was Jewish too.”