Director Aviva Kempner Talks All Things Baseball With Safe At Home Tuesdays

Baseball Barrier Breakers

Bethesda Big Train summer collegiate baseball team honors Clemente, Greenberg, and Robinson.

Hank Greenberg Honored in Walk of Heroes in Detroit

Slugger Hank Greenberg, the subject of Ciesla’s film The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg, is the first honoree in the Walk of Heroes at the former Tiger Stadium, now known as The Corner Ballpark in Detroit, Michigan. The exhibit honoring Greenberg opened on October 3rd.Read more in The Detroit News.

Read Aviva Kempner’s piece in The Wrap: Major League Baseball Should Fix the Yom Kippur Dilemma

Why must Jewish fans, players and league officials confront religious dilemmas about watching playoff games during the holiest Day of Atonement? Read Aviva Kempner’s recent article on the subject:

Please Nominate Hank Greenberg into Library of Congress National Registry

 Dear Supporter,
We write to ask for your help in nominating Aviva Kempner’s film,
The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg, for the Library of Congress’ 2018 National Film Registry.
Every year, The National Film Registry accepts 25 films that are at least 10 years old and considered to be “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” to preserve.
The deadline for nominating a film is Wednesday, September 5, 2018.

Nominate Film Here

Please enter the title of the film:
The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg
the year it was made: “1999
Then submit!
We ask you to nominate The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg, as it will:
  • show your support for Aviva’s long-standing work dedicated to advocating for social justice and equal rights;
  • contribute and strengthen her mission to telling stories of great and forgotten Jews of the past;
  • help to narrow the gap between the representation of male and female filmmakers in The National Registry; and
  • immortalize this great documentary about transcending religious bias that celebrates the Golden Age of Baseball in spite of prejudices.
The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg has won The Peabody Award (2002) from the George Foster Peabody Awards, Best Non-Fiction Film Award (2000) from the National Society of Film Critics Association, Best Documentary Award (2000) from the National Board Review of Motion Pictures, Best Documentary Award (2000) from Chicago Film Critics, Best Documentary (2000) from Las Vegas Film Critics, Voted Best Documentary Film (2001) from the National Society of Film Critics, Best Documentary Award (2001) from the Festival de Sevilla Sine y Deporte, Best Documentary Award (2000) from Florida Film Critics, The President’s Award from the 2001 Columbus International Film & Video Festival, 1999 Cine Golden Eagle Award Winner from CINE Awards and the Spirit Award for Best Sport Documentary from the International Sports Idea and Film Awards.


The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg has won The Peabody Award (2002) from the George Foster Peabody Awards, Best Non-Fiction Film Award (2000) from the National Society of Film Critics Association, Best Documentary Award (2000) from the National Board Review of Motion Pictures, Best Documentary Award (2000) from Chicago Film Critics, Best Documentary (2000) from Las Vegas Film Critics, Voted Best Documentary Film (2001) from the National Society of Film Critics, Best Documentary Award (2001) from the Festival de Sevilla Sine y Deporte, Best Documentary Award (2000) from Florida Film Critics, The President’s Award from the 2001 Columbus International Film & Video Festival, 1999 Cine Golden Eagle Award Winner from CINE Awards and the Spirit Award for Best Sport Documentary from the International Sports Idea and Film Awards.

A Pioneer Charts His Own Course

The Washington Post – 25 Jun 2018

BY GENE WANG IN PULLMAN, WASH.              Read full article here.

Athletic Director Pat Chun arrived at footballmad Washington State after more than five years as Florida Atlantic’s athletic director. “It’s not lost on me the significance of being the first Asian American athletic director at a Power Five,” he says.

From the time he began playing sports as a young boy with neighborhood buddies, Pat Chun stood out as the only Asian American on the block. It’s no different professionally for Chun, who has grown accustomed to being the only Asian American in the room since he started in athletics administration.

The pioneering athletic director at Washington State frequently deploys humor as a way to address that distinction. He may offer an amusing anecdote about growing up as the only son of Korean immigrants, with a father who taught taekwondo — “talk about stereotypical,” Chun said, chuckling — and a mother who worked as a grocery-store clerk.

Or he may elicit laughter by mentioning some of the travails linked to a career in which Asian Americans have been underrepresented to such a degree that, through 15 years as an understudy at Ohio State, his alma mater, he had no one of his or any other Asian ethnicity to count as a mentor.

“Let me put it this way,” said Chun, 43, who arrived at Washington State in February following 51/ years as Florida Atlantic’s

2 athletic director. “It’s not lost on me the significance of being the first Asian American athletic director at a Power Five.”

Like many Asian American children of his generation, Chun’s parents pushed him to be a doctor or a lawyer. But Chun knew neither of those occupations was for him after taking a liking to sports as a child in the Cleveland suburbs.

Athletics served as a vehicle for Chun to assimilate. His friends were white, and Chun shared a love of sports with them. They collected and traded baseball cards and gathered to watch football games on television. His closest friends remain those with

he played football in junior high and high school.

Still, his peers occasionally reminded Chun that he wasn’t exactly the same. He hasn’t forgotten the slanty-eye gestures or teasing in a mocking Asian accent.

“The joking comments that were made to you growing up would not be tolerated today,” he said.

Even as Chun immersed himself in sports, his mother, a classically trained pianist, was far more concerned with him practicing the violin. Eventually, she relented, allowing Chun to drop violin lessons in the sixth grade to concentrate more on sports. All the while, she remained skeptical about his career choice, even as he began moving up as an administrator at Ohio State.

“You’d have to be an Asian American to understand this,” said Chun, whose parents divorced when he was in the eighth grade. “Like a lot of Asian parents, they put this crazy emphasis on college and dreams of Ivy League schools and things like that.”

When Chun and his wife, Natalie, a former Buckeyes softball player, were discussing starting a family, his mother didn’t hesitate to offer more advice.

“This is 2002, 2003, and I’m already well into my athletic career, and we were talking about having a baby, and my mom pulls me aside and says, ‘ Hey, if you guys are going to have kids, you really need to start thinking about getting a real job,’ ” Chun said, laughing. “At that point, you know you’re not going to win that debate with your mom. It’s like: ‘Mom, just trust me. I’m on a great path here.’ ”

‘A modern success story’

When the news of his hiring at Washington State became public, Chun began receiving emails from Asian American administrators and coaches from other schools congratulating him.

Much of that correspondence came from well-wishers he had yet to meet in person. Still, Chun indicated, he couldn’t help but feel an unspoken kinship given his position of prominence within the small community of Asian Americans involved in college athletics.

“Pat, like a lot of successful people, he’s so focused on doing what he needs to do that I think he sometimes maybe isn’t as proud of that as he needs to be,” Washington State President Kirk Schulz said. “Pat’s a little bit humble that way. He’s just a modern success story.”

Chun gained a reputation as a skilled fundraiser at Ohio State, having overseen record contributions to the Buckeyes’ athletic department that included $42 million in 2012 and $41 million the previous year. A “relationship builder” was how former Ohio State athletic director Andy Geiger, who gave Chun his first job as an intern, described his protege.

He became athletic director at Florida Atlantic in 2012, and three years later, the school announced the largest single gift in its history: $16 million. With Washington State’s athletic department facing a budget deficit of $67 million, according to a recently released internal audit, Schulz made it his priority hiring a candiwhom date with a deft fundraising touch.

As an added benefit, Chun had hired Lane Kiffin to be FAU’s football coach in December 2016. Chun’s experience dealing with the occasionally controversial Kiffin reassured Schulz and other Washington State officials that he could forge a fruitful working relationship with the Cougars’ colorful football coach, Mike Leach.

Chun flew to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport for an initial off-campus interview in January, volunteering to be the first of eight candidates to meet with the search committee. Six of the semifinalists, according to Schulz, were sitting athletic directors. The other was a top deputy Schulz said would be one in the near future.

“When you start getting more involved, then it hits you: ‘Wow, no one really looks like you,’ ” Chun said. “You never really quantify these things until you start competing for jobs and you’re trying to get to different levels of your career. It’s like, ‘Wow.’ It does hit you.”

The conversation with Chun left such a positive impression, Schulz recalled, that one member of the search committee, minutes after Chun left the room, said with the utmost sincerity, “I think we’re done.”

‘It means a little bit more’

Chun was to be introduced at Washington State on Jan. 17, but university officials pushed the ceremony back a week because of a tragedy that had left the campus reeling. The day before Chun’s originally scheduled news conference, Tyler Hilinski, a redshirt sophomore quarterback on track to start for the Cougars this season, committed suicide in his Pullman apartment.

The sensitivity with which Chun navigated those tragic circumstances endeared him to the football program, the athletic department and the Washington State community, colleagues said.

In more recent weeks, Chun and Leach have had frequent discussions regarding how best to honor Hilinski’s memory, beginning with the Cougars’ home opener Sept. 8.

“That was a tough time, and also of course he hadn’t been here,” Leach said of Chun. “There really wasn’t a great deal he could have done beyond just offering support, which he did and continues to do.”

Chun has been the recipient of the same from his new co-workers over his first four-plus months — he officially started Feb. 5 — while continuing to champion diversity and inclusion.

One of his first speaking engagements after being named athletic director was to a campus multicultural group. He’s also scheduled to address other Asian American administrators during the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics annual convention this week at National Harbor.

“I think it means a little bit more because I don’t know the world my daughters are going to grow up in,” Chun said. “But I know as the world changes, and there’s more equality in society and more acceptance of different races and genders, I think it’s cool that something that may have been perceived as a glass ceiling to some Asians no longer exists.”

5 Jewish baseball players hit home runs on the same day

Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers connecting for his second home run of the game against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, June 8, 2018. (Corey Perrine/Getty Images)

(JTA) — June 8 was the most productive day for Jewish batters in Major League Baseball history.

Five members of the tribe combined for six home runs on Friday to help their respective teams to victory. Here’s the scorecard:

Ryan Braun, “The Hebrew Hammer,” hit two home runs, driving in five runs to lead the Milwaukee Brewers to a 12-4 win over the Philadelphia Phillies — who have a Jewish manager in Gabe Kapler. Braun’s three-run shot with two outs in the first inning broke a scoreless tie. His two-run homer, again with two outs, left Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Ballpark with an exit velocity of 112.9 miles per hour, according to the new high-tech analytics. It’s the hardest ball Braun has hit since they started measuring these things in 2015.

Kevin Pillar, the Toronto Blue Jays outfielder who is known more for his outstanding defensive play than his skills at the plate, hit his sixth homer of the year and third in seven games in a 5-1 win over the Baltimore Orioles. His eighth-inning solo shot gave the Blue Jays their final run. Danny Valencia, the third baseman for the O’s that night, was the only Jewish position player not to hit one out on Friday.

Alex Bregman hit his eighth home run, a solo drive, in the Houston Astros’ 7-3 win over the Texas Rangers. The Astros selected his younger brother A.J. in the recent MLB draft, so it’s conceivable they could become the first set of Jewish brothers to play on the same team since Norm and Larry Sherry were members of the Los Angeles Dodgers from 1959 to 1962.

Ian Kinsler’s seventh homer was good for two runs and gave the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim the cushion they needed in their 4-2 win over the Minnesota Twins. He hit his eighth home run (and fifth in June) the next day to give the Angels their first run in a 2-1 win, their sixth straight.

Josh Rosen and the N.F.L. Draft’s Jewish-Quarterback Question

By Zach Helfand – The New Yorker

Last fall, after the New York Jets won their second game of the 2017 N.F.L. season, the comedian Larry David called a sports talk-radio show. One of the guests congratulated him, “Your Jets are doing great!”

David’s voice turned frantic. “Oh, God!” he said. “Please! What’s wrong with them?”

“Wait, you won two games!”

“No!” he said. “I don’t want to win any games!”

David wanted the Jets to tank, so that the team could secure a better draft pick. The host asked David which of the top quarterback prospects he was hoping for: U.S.C.’s Sam Darnold or U.C.L.A.’s Josh Rosen. “I gotta go with the Jew,” David replied.

Jewish sports fans are, in my experience, a patient bunch, but the wait for an athlete like Rosen has been particularly long. Rosen is the son of a Jewish father and a Quaker mother. He had a bar mitzvah but attended a Catholic high school, where he went to weekly mass and gave confession twice a semester.

Since Sid Luckman, who threw his last pass in 1950, there hasn’t been a star Jewish quarterback in the N.F.L. There have been hardly any Jewish quarterbacks in the N.F.L. at all. Historically, the position has mostly been reserved for a very specific sort of person: white, Christian, preferably blue-collar. If he can passably appear in a commercial for Wrangler jeans, all the better. (No quarterback has fit the mold as well as the longtime Green Bay Packer Brett Favre.) Black quarterbacks especially have been excluded—something worth keeping in mind as the N.F.L. continues to effectively blackball Colin Kaepernick in response to his protests of police shootings of black Americans—though their numbers have increased in recent years. The former Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy told me, “When I was coming into the league, the question was: Could a team rally around someone who didn’t necessarily look like them, or what they thought he should look like?” Last year, two Ph.D. students at Penn State “found substantial racial differences in the language used to describe quarterback prospects.” Scouting reports are more likely to find that white quarterbacks “fit the prototype” and are “leaders,” while black quarterbacks are “athletic” but have “deficits.”

What about Jewish passers? Jay Fiedler, the last Jewish quarterback to start regularly, told me he wasn’t treated any differently for his religion. And there are a number of Jewish owners in the league. But the scouting evaluations of Rosen seem to reflect familiar stereotypes. He has been described as too smart. He is not tough enough. He is not blue-collar enough. His teammates hate him. Recently, the sports commentator Tony Kornheiser said that the “whisper campaign” against Rosen was “absolutely classic anti-Semitism.” Kornheiser took particular offense at a suggestion that Rosen is too rich to love the game. “Too rich? What? . . . He’s out there getting his brains kicked in in college, and he wants to play pro ball!”

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How Hank Greenberg Desegregated Baseball

BY JARED SICHEL – Jewniverse

In 1954, one year before the debut of Sandy Koufax, Hank Greenberg was the General Manager of the Cleveland Indians. Under Bronx-born Greenberg, the Indians had more black ballplayers than any other team. Greenberg didn’t care whether his players were white or black—just that they were good at baseball. And good they were: The Indians won the American League pennant that year.

By that time, Greenberg already had a reputation as one of baseball’s greatest players—and as a proud American and Jew. He refused to play in a key pennant race game on Yom Kippur in 1934, and six years later, he became the first ballplayer to register for the draft. He ended up serving for 47 months—longer than any other MLB player during World War II. “My country comes first,” Greenberg famously said.

(…Read the full article)