Category Archives: old school

8 Nights of Jewish Tigers– Nights 4 and 5

OK, yeah, sorry, Night 4 got kind of wiped out by the Alamo Bowl, as that rather effectively kept me away from any kind of holiday mood. This is Night 5, but his history involves a couple of other Jewish baseball players (not Tigers), so we’ll let him make up for last night’s incompetent-referee-assisted lack of update. And I was out all night Friday and suffered greatly at the hands of the Boston road system, so night 6 will get posted sometime this afternoon and, um, yeah, they’ll all be up eventually.

Larry Sherry

Terrible photo on that card, isn’t it? You’d think they would use better shots for baseball cards, but sometimes even the ones they come out with today are pretty bloody goofy.

Sherry, a right-handed relief pitcher, played in Detroit for four seasons. The first three were pretty good years, and he hit his career high of saves (20) in 1966, but the 4th year saw his ERA ballooning upwards. The Tigers used him sparingly, and he ended up in Houston the next season. He pitched out that year and a subsequent year on the yet-to-be-so-designated Rally Monkey Angels, but his ERA never recovered, and he retired to go into coaching.

Sherry was born with two clubfeet and had surgery to correct them, much like Jim Mecir. Unlike Mecir, however, who pushes off the rubber funny and throws a screwball because of this, Sherry’s bread and butter pitch was a sort of variable-speed slider.

He did have some memorable (or unfortunate) times in Detroit. In August of 1964 Sherry had his foot broken for him when a comeback linedrive bounced off of it, shutting him down for the rest of the year. In September of 1965 Pedro Gonzalez tried to whale on him with a bat during a game.

His best days, were definitely with the Dodgers. The most memorable Larry Sherry moments took place in the postseason with the Dodgers, before his tenure in Detroit. With LA he was murderously good in relief during the 1959 World Series, picking up 2 saves and 2 wins. Also with that Dodger squad (and here are your bonus Jews) was Larry’s brother Norm, a reserve catcher, and, of course, Sandy Koufax. The three were pretty good friends, going out to eat around the ballpark and such.

Larry pitched to Norm during several games, making them the first ever Jewish brother battery in baseball.

8 Nights of Jewish Tigers– Night One

It being the holiday season and all, I thought it would be nice to have a special holiday event here at Roar of the Tigers. Last year I did 8 Days of Jewish Baseball at my other site (you can find them on the sidebar if you scroll down). I’m doing something different over there this year, and you here at RotT are getting the 8 Nights of Jewish Tigers. Every night of Chanukah we’ll have a look at a different former Jewish Detroit Tiger (as there aren’t any Jews on the current team, sadly), and baseball fans Jew and gentile alike shall be filled with educatin’ joys.

If you were reading me last year, you will recognize that some of the ballplayers profiled are repeats, but the dearth of Jewish baseball players at the professional level (and the fact that 3 more-or-less current players used to be on the Tigers) makes this necessary.

For the first night we start with what I believe is the most recent Jewish Tiger,

Al Levine

Levine is a 37 year old right-handed relief pitcher who worked in a little over 70 innings for the Tigers in 2004. He was cut loose after that season and glommed on with San Francisco at some point this past year, where he was probably viewed as a fount of youthful spriteliness.

Born and raised in Illinois, he was originally drafted out of Southern Illinois University by (and spent 7 years in) the Chicago Wrong Sox organization, which I guess must have been nice for him. He hopped around after that, doing some time in Arlington and bouncing between the majors and minors as part of the Rally Monkey Angels World Series year. 2003 was split between Tampa and Kansas City before the Tigers picked him up for ’04, which was probably comforting, as even Detroit fresh off the ’03 season seems at least nominally less depressing than a D’Rays/Royals combo platter.

Levine’s one-year tenure with the Tigers wasn’t spectacular but wasn’t the most horrible thing the Bengals have seen (not that this is saying much). He ended it with a 4.59 ERA and a 3-4 record, but at least his ratio of Ks to walks was, well, positive. With enough ABs he doesn’t show a huge difference in performance against righties and lefties. After only pitching in a little over 10 innings for the Giants and throwing up an ERA of well over 9.00, it doesn’t seem likely that he’ll be back with them next year. He may retire; I’m not at all sure, it’s a bit difficult to find news on the poor guy.

The important bit, however, is that he is, in fact, Jewish. He attended Hebrew School as a kid in Illinois, was bar mitzvahed, the whole gantzeh megillah.

Of being a Jewish baseball player, he says,

I get a lot of mail from Jewish fans, and am always more than happy to respond. I’m proud, actually. And when I’m watching sporting events, I always look to see which other athletes might be Jewish…

One of the great things about baseball is that players of all ethnicities are in the league. So religion or background don’t matter on the field. It’s playing hard that means something.
Jewish Journal

Jewish Tiger Number 2 will be up at some point tomorrow (probably on the later end, as I’ll be out all day), so be sure to check back, and hope you’re all having Stripe-tastic holidays thus far (or did, if you’re Christian and all that’s left is cleaning up the wrapping paper.

Teams of Yore. Um, or something.

Ralph Houk! Billy Martin! And a tiger!

I’m in a video class, see, and my final video is about the Tigers. This means I got to do some interviews in varying levels of awkwardness (hallmate Jim giggling nervously because he doesn’t really know much about the Tigers; my cousin Sam having nothing to say about Comerica apart from his experiences with the suite dessert cart) and awesomeity (my dad and his friends singing ‘Go Get ‘Em Tigers’ loudly and offkey; my uncle noting how Ty Cobb’s statue is surrounded by people he would have hated; my friend Mike talking for, no kidding, 15 minutes straight about everything that’s wrong with Comerica compared to Tiger Stadium).

It also means that, thanks to one of my dad’s friends whom we saw over Thanksgiving, I have some great old Tigers photos scanned in from old programs.

Behold!


Willie Horton and Al Kaline have hugs!


Mickey Stanley enjoys soda pop without his shirt on!


Mickey Lolich is literate!


BILL FREEHAN WANTS YOU TO DRINK VERNORS! It fills the gap between sweet and bitey!

It’s turning into a pretty funny video so far. Pity the only audience will be a class of art students who won’t understand 2/3rds of what’s in it.