By Corey Vann
Published on Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Happy New Year! And no, I’m not referring to the new school year that is upon us. I already welcomed you guys back to school last week. Now is not the time to get greedy.
What I am referring to is the Jewish new year, Rosh Hashanah, which began at sundown on Sunday and ends tonight. In honor of the holiday, I thought it would be a good time to take a look at some of the best Jewish athletes, coaches and executives in the world of sports. As Adam Sandler so eloquently put it in the “Hanukkah Song” back in 1994, “O.J. Simpson — not a Jew!” Luckily, many other athletes, past and present, are Jewish. Some of these names may surprise you, and some of them even hail from the College on the Hill.
Dartmouth: Even though Miami Dolphin fans are praying that they have finally found their long-awaited answer at the quarterback position in first-round pick Ryan Tannehill, in reality, the closest the Dolphins have ever been to Dan Marino was Jay Fiedler ’94. The record-holder in career touchdown passes and yards led the Big Green to two championships in the early 1990s and was the last signal-caller to lead the Dolphins to a playoff victory back in 2000.
Brad Ausmus ’91 is one of our own despite never lacing ’em up for the Big Green (Ausmus was under contract with the New York Yankees while he attended Dartmouth). After graduation, Ausmus went on to have a very solid career in the major leagues and was well known for being one of best defensive catchers in the game. Ausmus is currently the coach for the Israeli national baseball team, which is looking to qualify for the upcoming World Baseball Classic.
Basketball: This is kind of a sensitive subject for me. Ever since I was little kid, I dreamed of being in the NBA. At about the age of 13, I realized that I didn’t have the height or athleticism to succeed in basketball, so I gave up on my hoop dreams. However, don’t let my account stop you — put on some Journey and “Don’t Stop Believin’.”
Hall of Famer Dolph Shayes didn’t stop believing, as well as current ballers Jordan Farmar, Omri Casspi, Sue Bird and wait for it... Amare Stoudemire.
Yes, Stoudemire is Jewish, believe it or not. After learning that his mother had Jewish roots, Amare traveled to Israel “2 study Hebrew [and] get a better understanding on who we R,” according to his Twitter. Shana Tova, Amare.
Baseball: I didn’t want to get into too much detail regarding Sandy Koufax because I’m sure most of you are very familiar with his illustrious Hall of Fame career. That said, Koufax isn’t the only Jew in the Hall. He has some good company in Hammerin’ Hank Greenberg.
I truthfully believe that there will be more Jewish baseball players who end up in Cooperstown, starting with National League MVP Ryan Braun. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for Ian Kinsler, Sam Fuld and Kevin Youkilis this October, who will all be trying to help their respective clubs win a championship.
Football: Although Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz is not a Jew, do not be fazed — Hall of Fame quarterback Sid Luckman was. So was Julian Edelman, cancer survivor Mark Herzlich, former All-American Gabe Carimi and even Taylor Mays.
While there may not be a lot Jews strapping it up every Sunday, many are calling the shots from upstairs, including Patriots owners Bob Kraft, Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie, Falcons owner Arthur Blank and Dolphins owner Stephen Ross.
Others: Last but certainly not least, Jewish athletes are no strangers to Olympic gold. Before Michael Phelps, there was Mark Spitz and Dara Torres, who brought a combined total of 23 Olympic medals during their careers. Both swimmers are members of the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame. It’s also important to note that three of the major four sports have Jewish commissioners in Bud Selig (MLB), David Stern (NBA) and Gary Bettman (NHL).
Though the aforementioned athletes, coaches and executives all happen to be part of the Jewish faith, we love sports because among other reasons, religion plays no role. It all comes down to whether or not you can get it done on the field when the lights are on. Yes, there is a great tradition of Jewish athletes at Dartmouth, but I know that at least for myself, I first and foremost identify with the student body as a whole, not my religion. So now it’s time to take a step back and continue supporting Big Green athletics this fall, because nothing brings a community together quite like sports.