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A Night Of Jewish Baseball

You can learn about what it means to be Jewish and involved in baseball, and benefit a worthy cause.

When I was a kid, Art Shamsky was a part-time outfielder for the Reds, and later the Mets. I have a vague recollection of him as a Cub-killer, but looking at his lifetime splits, I see he hit .258/.320/.423 in 163 career at-bats against the Cubs, good but not great, and .223/.284/.362 at Wrigley Field, even worse. I suspect I remember, as you can when you're many years removed from a childhood memory, this game, where Shamsky went 3-for-5 and homered and the Cubs lost. Those stick, even when the memories of many other worse performances fade.

Shamsky played briefly for the Cubs in 1972, 15 games at the beginning of the 1972 season, and not well -- 2-for-16.

I mention all this because Shamsky, along with former big leaguers Ron Blomberg and Ross Baumgarten (a Chicago-area native), will be talking baseball at a fundraiser on August 11 at Milt's Barbecue for the Perplexed (a kosher BBQ place, and it's good stuff, I was there last week), 3411 N. Broadway. Here's what they say about this event:

Join us for an exclusive evening featuring MLB greats Art Shamsky, Ron Blomberg, and Ross Baumgarten! They will share stories of the "good old days" and talk about what it meant and means today to be a Jew in the major leagues. We'll also hear the story behind the creation of the iconic "Jewish Baseball Players" lithograph that hangs in Milt's.

That's the image you see at the top of this post; it's signed by dozens of Jewish players and executives who have been or are now in the major leagues, including Steve Stone and Theo Epstein. (In a bit of unfortunate timing, Ryan Braun appears on this image, right in the front. Please keep comments on Braun's baseball troubles out of this; he's here because he is half-Jewish, the son of a man who was born in Israel after losing most of his family in the Holocaust. Thanks.)

If you're interested in this fundraiser, which benefits the Jeffrey Kahan Memorial Fund (connected with the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, you can buy tickets here.

I don't have any personal connection to this event, just thought it might be an interesting evening with some former ballplayers to benefit a good cause. I've heard that Blomberg, in particular, is a great storyteller.