8 Nights of Jewish Tigers– Night Two

OK, more like Really Rather Late on Night Two, and More in the Wee Hours of Day 3, but I was out all day, and then had to watch Monday Night Football with some friends, and before you know it Chanukah is marching on. Ah well.

For Night Two we’re going with the next most recent Jewish Tiger, after Levine.

Gabe Kapler

And really, any excuse to break out that photo is a good one.

Kapler started out in the Tigers system, drafted by them in 1995 and staying on through the ’99 season, although he only really had significant time as a Detroit Tiger at the major league level in his last year with the organization. In that season he posted a .245/.315/.447 line. Most of his better numbers would come with his subsequent teams– the Rangers, the Rockies (although a career-relative elevated batting average in that park is not surprising) and the Red Sox, whom he helped win the 2004 World Series.

This past season Kapler began in Japan, having opted to leave Boston for the chance to play every day overseas. Japan, however, did not agree with him, and before the year was out Kapler had returned to Fenway, much to the glee of the Boston faithful. However, his luck would not last and Kapler ruptured his Achille’s tendon while rounding the bases after a Tony Graffanino homerun, collapsing on the basepaths in what truly appeared to be a freak occurrence.

Kapler is Jewish and, like Levine, is proud of that, although unlike Levine he does not embrace the religious aspects of his Judaism so wholeheartedly, saying that he is more culturally Jewish than religiously so.

That’s where I identify the most: heritage, blood, history… I’m so proud to be who I am. I’m so proud of where I come from. I feel very strongly about being a strong Jew, not necessarily from a religious aspect.”

While Kapler is perhaps best remembered in Detroit as the prospect who never quite showed the power he had the potential for, he is known most everywhere as a player smart and likable enough to quite thoroughly overcome the ‘utility’ label. And, as Red Sox fans who watched all available footage on NESN last year will surely remember, he’s Jewish enough to wear tshirts that say “Challah Back” across the shoulders. You can’t fail to love a player like that.


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