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Bobby Doerr, Red Sox Hall of Fame Second Baseman and Former Teammate of Moe Berg, Dies at 99

November 15, 2017

Bobby Doerr, the Hall of Fame second baseman dubbed the “Silent Captain” of the Boston Red Sox by longtime teammate and friend Ted Williams, has died. Doerr died on Monday October 13 at the age of 99. He played on the same Red Sox team as Moe Berg in the 1937, 1938, and 1939 seasons and was one of the players Moe coached on the Red Sox in the 1940 and 1941 seasons.

In the statement released by the Red Sox on Tuesday October 14, Red Sox owner John Henry said: “Bobby Doerr was part of an era of baseball giants and stood out as one himself. And even with his Hall of Fame achievements at second base, his character and personality outshined it all. He will be missed.”

Bobby Doerr pictured in 1942 (Source: NBCNews/AP)

Doerr was signed out of the old Pacific Coast League in 1937, where he had played for the San Diego Padres with Ted Williams, who was signed to the Red Sox out of the same scouting trip. In 1938, Doerr became a regular in the Red Sox lineup as their second baseman. Doerr played 14 seasons with the Red Sox and joined his old friend Ted Williams in the Hall of Fame in 1986. He had a .288 career average, helped the Red Sox to the 1946 World Series, and was a nine-time All-Star.

In 1988, the Red Sox retired his No. 1 jersey at Fenway Park and the team honored Doerr with a 2004 World Series ring after breaking their 86-year championship drought.

Doerr, who was known for being modest, finished his career with 2,042 hits, 223 home runs and 1,247 RBIs. His six seasons with at least 100 RBIs was not matched by another second baseman for 25 years. He was frequently cited one of the best AL fielders.

After retiring as a player, Doerr returned to the Red Sox first as a scout from 1957-1966 and then as the first base coach from 1967-1969. He then became the hitting coach for the Toronto Blue Jays from 1977-1981.

Doerr’s friendship with Ted Williams, Johnny Pesky and Dom DiMaggio is well known and commemorated in a statue unveiled at Fenway in 2010. He also played on the team with Hall of Famers Joe Cronin, Jimmie Foxx, and Lefty Grove.

Doerr retired to Junction City, Oregon with his wife, Monica Roseman Terpin, and their son, Don. When asked if he wished he played “now,” in 1990, Doerr responded: “No. I know the money is better, but I just feel fortunate to have played then. I think we had more fun. We played the game hard, but there is so much pressure on these guys.”

Bobby Doerr was the oldest living Major League Baseball player and was the last living person who played in the major leagues in the 1930s. We join the baseball community in mourning his passing and remembering his legacy as on of the Red Sox greats from the Golden Age of baseball.

For more on Bobby Doerr and his legacy, see this link.

Ray Robinson, Who Wrote of Gehrig the Man, Dies at 96

by: DANIEL E. SLOTNIK NOV. 9, 2017

Ray Robinson, a longtime magazine editor who wrote well-received biographies of baseball stars from his youth like Christy Mathewson and Lou Gehrig, died on Nov. 1 in Manhattan. He was 96.

His daughter, Nancy Miringoff, said he died a day after having a stroke.

For many years Mr. Robinson made a living as an editor at magazines like Seventeen and Good Housekeeping, but baseball and other sports were always his passion. Though he was never a professional baseball reporter, his life was so infused with the game that he could, and did, more than hold his own in discussions about the sport.

His biographies include “Matty, an American Hero: Christy Mathewson of the New York Giants” (1994), about the star pitcher of the early 20th century, and “Rockne of Notre Dame: The Making of a Football Legend” (1999), about the celebrated Notre Dame football coach.

His sportswriting, which mixed careful research with personal recollections, was more realistic than reverential.

“He could be trusted not to exaggerate a story or a fact; it was what it was, and you could trust Ray’s memory,” Marty Appel, the author of “Pinstripe Empire: The New York Yankees From Before the Babe to After the Boss” (2012) and other baseball books, said in an interview on Tuesday.

One of Mr. Robinson’s favorite players, and subjects, was Gehrig, the Hall of Fame Yankee first baseman who long held the record for consecutive games played, with 2,130, and who died at 37 from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a degenerative ailment now widely known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

In many articles and in the book “Iron Horse: Lou Gehrig in His Time” (1990), Mr. Robinson portrayed the famously humble and hard-working Gehrig as a human being instead of the mythical hero many see him as, without hiding his own reverence.

Mr. Robinson at Magazine Management, where he worked as an editor, in the 1950s.
“Suited up, Gehrig looked bovine, unathletic,” Mr. Robinson wrote. “His appearance earned him the uncomely nickname of ‘Biscuit Pants.’ But shouldn’t one win points for modesty, decency and determination? I thought so, and of all the Yankees, it was Lou I cherished the most.”

One undeniably superhuman moment of Gehrig’s career was his farewell speech at Yankee Stadium on July 4, 1939. Mr. Robinson, who was there and called the speech “baseball’s Gettysburg Address,” told The Daily News in 2014 that the sound system made it hard to make out all of Gehrig’s words, but that an almost religious solemnity descended over the stadium as Gehrig spoke.

“I have no way of knowing if 60,000 people were crying,” he said, “but I had tears in my eyes.”

Full Article: here

Irv Refkin, Brash Accidental Spy in World War II, Dies at 96

By Sam Roberts, New York Times

Irv Refkin, an impromptu but daring spy who served the United States and Britain as a saboteur, assassin and courier behind enemy lines in Europe during World War II, died on Thursday at his home in San Diego. He was 96.

His death was confirmed by a friend, Vera Davis.

Dispatched from England, Mr. Refkin, a scrappy 5-foot-6 Wisconsin native, was said to have smuggled explosives to the French Resistance in Paris, infiltrated Nazi Germany to kill specific targets integral to the Nazi war machine, and sabotaged train tracks to slow the deployment of German tanks to Normandy before the Allied invasion on D-Day.

On his clandestine missions inside Germany, he would disguise himself in a Wehrmacht corporal’s uniform.

“No one,” he explained, “has ever noticed a corporal.”

He also carried out assignments in Italy, the Soviet Union and South Africa.

Mr. Refkin, who was discharged as a master sergeant after the war, was awarded the Bronze Star. In 2014, he received the Distinguished Service Award from the Office of Strategic Services Society, an association of alumni from the wartime intelligence predecessor to the Central Intelligence Agency.

“O.S.S. founder General William Donovan described O.S.S. personnel as ‘glorious amateurs’ who performed ‘some of the bravest acts of the war,’ ” said Charles Pinck, president of the society, in an email. “That’s a perfect description of Irv Refkin.”

Last year, when legislation was pending to award the Congressional Gold Medal to World War II spies who served behind enemy lines, Mr. Refkin lobbied for speedy adoption, arguing that the ranks of those former spies were dwindling.

“We’re all in our mid-90s,” he said. “We’re not going to be here that long.”

President Barack Obama signed the legislation in December 2016, but the medals have not yet been formally conferred.

Isadore Irving Refkin was born on June 7, 1921, in Milwaukee to Samuel and Anna Refkin, Jewish immigrants from Russia.

According to his account, his parents were killed in an auto accident when he was 3 or 4, and for the next 10 years he was raised in a German Lutheran orphanage. Then, he said, with $3.26 in his pocket, he fended for himself.

After completing high school he attended Marquette University in Milwaukee for two years, then enlisted in the Army in 1940 when he was 19 to avail himself of the proverbial “three hots and a cot” — a place to eat and sleep. After basic training, he was sent to Canada for instruction in explosives.

According to his account, he had a run-in with a senior officer there who extracted revenge by putting him on a plane to Britain without notice. By the time the authorities there realized he was not Canadian, and before the United States Army learned he was missing, he had parachuted into occupied France to apply his skills as a demolition expert and a speaker of German.

“If they catch you they’re going to kill you for being Jewish,” an officer warned him, Mr. Refkin recalled in an interview for the strategic services society this year.

“If they catch me for being a spy, is it going to be any easier?” he asked.

When the officer replied no, Mr. Refkin said, he delivered a typically practical response.

“One way or another,” he said, “I can’t let them catch me.”

He said he carried out three successful missions for the British. Once the United States entered the war he performed special assignments for the Americans, according to the society.

Read full article here

Dodgers’ Joc Pederson breaks record for most homers by a Jewish player in one World Series

Joc Pederson of the Los Angeles Dodgers has set a new home run record for Jewish players in one World Series.

Pederson, a lefty-swinging outfielder, blasted a homer in the seventh inning of his club’s 3-1 win over the visiting Houston Astros in Game 6. The shot, to left field, was his third of the Series and moved Pederson past Hall of Famer Hank Greenberg, the Detroit Tigers’ slugger who had two homers in the 1934 Fall Classic.

Greenberg still holds the mark for most runs batted in by a Jewish player in one World Series — at least for now, since there’s another game left — with seven. Pederson has five, as does Alex Bregman, the Astros’ Jewish third baseman, along with two home runs.

Written by Ron Kaplan.

Link to full article

Moe Berg featured in Episode Nine of “Genius” Series about Albert Einstein

National Geographic’s 10-episode first season of “Genius” was a fascinating series on Albert Einstein’s life, based on Walter Isaacson’s book Einstein: His Life and Universe. The show aired its finale on June 20th and includes scenes with Berg’s dangerous assignment in the OSS during World War II.

Episode nine opens with Berg receiving a gun and cyanide pill with instructions to listen to Heisenberg’s lecture at the Zurich Polytechnic Institute in Switzerland. He’s told specifically to listen for words and phrases like, “heavy water, plutonium and fast fission.” “If anything he says leads you to believe he’s developing an atomic bomb,” Berg’s told, “Kill him!”

Later, Einstein is listening to a broadcast of a Red Sox game at Fenway Park in 1939 and Moe Berg is referred to as “Einstein in knickers” because he’s the most intelligent of all the baseball players.

Berg’s final scene is in December 1944, as he listens to Heisenberg’s lecture and walks with the German physicist afterwards over cobblestone streets.

While not portrayed in the “Genius” series, Berg did meet Einstein after the war. In Nicholas Dawidoff’s book, The Catcher was a Spy the meeting is described: “Mr. Berg, exclaimed the scientist, “you teach me baseball, and I’ll teach you mathematics.” He paused a moment and added, “But let’s forget it. I’m sure you’d learn mathematics faster than I’d learn baseball.”

Office of Strategic Services (OSS) celebrates 75th Anniversary with ceremony on Navy Hill in Washington, DC on June 16th

Program Cover for the OSS 75th Anniversary Celebration

The OSS was created in 1942 by President Roosevelt and was the World War II predecessor to the CIA, US Special Operations Command and the Department of State’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research. The celebration was held at the site of the first OSS and CIA headquarters on Navy Hill, which was recently added to the National Register of Historic places.

Moe Berg served as a spy for the OSS during World War II and was recruited by OSS Director General William (Wild Bill) Donovan.

Read more about the ceremony here. You can link to the OSS society website here.

Fielding Dreams: Washington’s Jewish Ballplayers – Thursday, July 20, 7:30 – 9:30 PM Eldavitch DC JCC

Award-winning filmmaker Aviva Kempner will be taking part in a revealing discussion about Washington’s history of Jewish ballplayers. She will be sitting down with sports attorney and former Washington Senator’s broadcaster Philip Hochberg and author Frederic J. Frommer (You Gotta Have Heart: A History of Washington Baseball from 1859 to the 2012 National League East Champions) at Eldavitch DCJCC as they will cover names such as Moe Berg (catcher, scholar, spy); the subject of Kempner’s new film, Elliott Maddox (the only Black Jew to play in the Major Leagues); and Jason Marquis (the first observant Jew to play for the Nats). Tickets are available here.

Highlights of the 1945 Baseball Season

Photograph by Washingtonian, Getty Images and Press Association Inc.

Here is a delightful Washingtonian article about how the Senators were upstaged by Hank Greeenberg’s hitting in 1945.

“Legendary slugger Hank Greenberg, just out of the Army Air Corps, had rejoined the Detroit Tigers. And on this last day of the season, it was Greenberg who stepped to the plate in the ninth inning of a game between his Tigers and the St. Louis Browns.

The game was more than 800 miles away, but Washington fans were paying attention. If St. Louis held its lead and won the second game of the doubleheader, the Senators would be one win from the World Series. If not, Washington was done. Alas, it wasn’t to be. Greenberg hit a grand slam, giving the Tigers the game—and ending Washington’s season. By the next spring, as regulars replaced wartime understudies, the team would return to its usual mediocrity.”

Read the rest of the story here.

Go to the official website for Ciesla’s documentary on Hank Greenberg for more stats and stories, The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg by Aviva Kempner.

As Baseball Season Starts, Still Cheering for Team Israel

By Aviva Kempner

When the Major League Baseball season started this week, some of us Jewish baseball fans are still reminiscing how well Team Israel did last month in the World Baseball Classic, actually winning four games.

Team Israel was the closest thing we ever had to having our own dream Jewish American lineup. We American Jews can’t help but be jealous of the holy land for recruiting our professional American Jewish baseball players to compete for Team Israel in the World Baseball Classic games. Labeled the Cinderella of the series, the Israeli baseball team gave American Jewry lots to cheer for, since most of the team members were Americans. It’s a hoot that we have been creating fantasy Jewish baseball teams in our heads for decades, and now Israel got to claim the accomplished Jewish dream team.


Read the whole article here

All the Jewish Major Leaguers to Watch- Baseball 2017

DETROIT, MI – JULY 20: Manager Brad Ausmus #7 of the Detroit Tigers celebrates a win over the Seattle Mariners with Ian Kinsler #3 on July 20, 2015 at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan. The Tigers defeated the Mariners 5-4. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)

(JTA) — In baseball, they say time begins on Opening Day. Everyone has a chance for a fresh start. Most of the old familiar names are back, although some have new addresses. If you count Detroit Tigers manager Brad Ausmus, there are nine Jews who begin the year on Major League rosters. But then there’s the question of what to do about Ty Kelly of the New York Mets: Is he or isn’t he? That’s still a matter of debate among those who decide on such matters.

Read the rest of the article and find out more here.