For the third night of Chanukah we have the… er, OK, he was here more recently than Kapler, but for the sake of this thing we’ll call him the sort-of third most recent Jewish Tiger.
Ausmus played for the Tigers during part of the ’96 season, and returned to play again in 1999 and 2000. In ’99 he went to the All Star Game, and he won Gold Gloves in 2001 and 2002 as a catcher with the Astros. He’s never been an overpowering offensive force (as is true with most catchers not named “Pudge” or “Varitek”) but he hit over .265 in both of his full seasons with the Tigers, which isn’t bad (compared to, say… Vance).
Now 36, Ausmus is on the downward slide of catcherdom, and his arm isn’t nearly what it used to be. His reactions behind the plate are still supposedly pretty good, though, and his ability to work with his pitchers is highly and widely praised. He is (or perhaps by now was) pretty speedy for a catcher, stealing 16 bases in 1991 and becoming the first Tiger catcher since Bruce Kimm (’76) to hit in the leadoff spot (it was only for a few games).
Ausmus was attending Dartmouth when he was drafted by the Yankees, but refused to sign unless they agreed to let him take classes while in the minors (his initial balking may have also had something to do with the fact that he was a lifelong, diehard Red Sox fan). In ’91 he graduated with a degree in Government, making him one of the relatively few major leaguers to actually have completed college degrees, especially in real subjects that aren’t “general studies” or “kinesiology” or “beer” (Michigan State only).
It’s unclear whether he’s a practicing Jew (either religiously or ‘culturally’), but in any event he was born into a mixed marriage: his mother is Jewish and his father is not. He may have been bar mitzvahed, or he may not have been, but according to Jewish law, it’s the religion of the mother that hereditarily determines the religion of the child, so, practicing or not, Ausmus is in fact technically Jewish.