Spring training is underway and Opening Day 2012 will be here before you we know it. Our Minnesota Twins open the season in Baltimore against the Orioles on April 6 and return to Target Field for the home opener on April 9. In 2010, we were spoiled – the Twins won their division and they did so in a brand new baseball shrine. Last year, everyone got hurt. Literally. There were games when Gardy ran out of players. There were games when Gardy looked like he was about to keel over. And there were games when the 2011 Minnesota Twins fielded two players named Rene at the same time.
The good news is that it can’t get much worse this year. The other good news is that on Opening Day, every team has the same record.
The 2012 Minnesota Twins have something else – something that no other current Major League club can claim. It’s also something that only a handful of teams have claimed in the history of the game.
The 2012 Minnesota Twins could start the season with three Jewish players on the roster.
To put this into perspective, one must understand how rare the Jewish player has been throughout history. Approximately 16,000 players have worn a Major League uniform. Through the 2011 season, only 167 of them have been Jewish. Last season, 13 Jewish players appeared in a Major League game. And only 4 Jewish players have ever appeared in a game for the Minnesota Twins.
Of course, Danny Valencia will return at the hot corner. Let’s hope he improves enough to stay there.
Newcomer Jason Marquis instantly becomes the Jewiest player in Twins history. A veteran of many playoff teams, Marquis grew up in a Conservative home, is the grandson of Holocaust survivors and even had a Bar Mitzvah. Perhaps he can teach Valencia a few things.
The wild card is journeyman southpaw Scott Diamond. My research has not been able to confirm his Jewishness – which is odd, because we’re always the first to jump on such things. But I’ve never heard of a goyishe Diamond. And his alma matter of Binghamton University is one of the Jewiest places on Earth (at least it was when half of my high school went there).
Should I find out that Scott Diamond is not a MOT or that he doesn’t make the club, I have a few other Jewish tidbits to fill the void.
Right: Not really a Jew, but close enough
- Although not technically Jewish, Rod Carew probably knows more of the Hebrew alphabet than Valencia. Carew is very active within the organization and didn’t hesitate when he signed a ball for me with
- In a chat I had with Gardy a couple of years ago, I told him that I was the rare Twins season ticket holder who had actually seen him play – for the lowly Mets in the early 1980′s. He told me of the nice Jewish family in Queens (Bayside to be exact, right off of Bell Blvd.) that sponsored him as a rookie so he wouldn’t be by himself in a strange city. When the Twins play the Mets or Yankees in New York, he still stays with that family. Something tells me that Gardy knows his hamentashen from his mandelbread.
- Thanks to Rabbi Avi Olitzky and MSP Kosher, I enjoy kosher dogs at Target Field. And unlike Citi Field, home to the lowly (yet again) Mets, I can eat those kosher dogs during Friday night or Saturday afternoon games.
With or without Diamond, when the Twins take on the Texas Rangers this year, let’s hope for a Marquis/Scott Feldman matchup. If that happens, if Valencia starts at 3rd for the Twins, and if Ian Kinsler starts at 2nd for the Rangers, it will be the first time since 1942 that 4 Jews are in a game at the same time.
UPDATE: The Twins still need eight. I have received confirmation directly from Scott Diamond (via Twitter) that although mistaken for a MOT often, he is not, in fact, Jewish. At least he responded – I’ve been trying to engage Valencia for over a year.
Top photo: Countdown to opening day