It has been a game of sorts over the years — marveling when ballplayers turn out to be Jewish and straining to expand the parameters of the religion so that as many players as possible can be included.
For years, Kevin Youkilis has been a leading figure in this odd, but entertaining, sport that was elevated to on-air comedy in 2006 when the actor and comedian Denis Leary, in an extended bit of shock, wrestled with the startling fact that his beloved Red Sox first baseman, with a name like a Greek omelet, was, incredibly, a Jew.
“Now, Youkilis, is he a Greek kid?” Leary asked that night during a visit to the Red Sox television booth. When told that Youkilis was, in fact, Jewish, Leary reacted with manic glee. “That’s fantastic,” he said. “That’s one bottle of whiskey away from being Irish Catholic. They got the Manischewitz, we got the Jameson’s. It’s the same guilt, the same bad food. That’s fantastic. We got a Jewish first baseman!”