Baseball Memories - Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion
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Baseball Memories

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Whether you've ever slid into home or managed a fantasy baseball team, celebrated your city’s victories or commiserated in their defeat, everyone has a baseball story. Below you’ll find cherished memories shared by visitors and staff.

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Share your own baseball memories by filling out our form. Stories may be edited for length and clarity. Note: Due to limited space, all stories may not be added, but we will update the page regularly.


“Full disclosure. I grew up in a household of die-hard Yankee fans. I can remember my dad and my brothers simultaneously watching the game on our black and white television and listening to the play-by-play on the radio, yelling at the umps and managers as if they could be heard from our basement. After my father passed away, my mother carried the torch, religiously watching every game. She took it personally when Derek Jeter retired in 2014. Had she lived just a few more months, she would have loved seeing his number retired this past May. She was a fan for every one of her nearly 102 years.

When I moved to Cincinnati in 1978 with my husband and infant son, we traded our Yankee pinstripes for all things Red. I still remember the thrill of being in the stands in September 1985 to see Pete Rose hit 4192 and carrying our brooms to Fountain Square when the Reds swept the World Series against Oakland 5 years later. I loved seeing the Cincinnati pride in the faces of our son and daughter as they cheered their hometown team. They’ve moved on now to become fans of the Milwaukee Brewers and the Mets, but they still hold the Cincinnati Reds in their hearts.

Baseball has this effect. We can all remember moments we witnessed that brought out civic pride and community spirit, whether at a professional baseball game, or on a Little League field. Imagine how such moments must have felt for American immigrants navigating their way in a new land. Baseball was something everyone had in common. Something everyone could share. Chasing Dreams: Baseball & Becoming American, the current exhibition at the Skirball Museum in Cincinnati, explores how America’s favorite pastime, especially for immigrants and minority groups, has played a crucial role in understanding, and sometimes challenging, what it means to be American.” -Abby Schwartz Director, Cincinnati Skirball Museum


“When we were growing up in the New York area, we were big Brooklyn Dodgers fans.  There were great rivalries at family gatherings, since some cousins were Giants fans and others liked the Yankees.  My father and I were so disappointed when our team moved to LA.

My Mom used to tell a story of my Great Grandmother who came to this country from Russia.  She didn't understand baseball.  One time when the Dodgers had won the pennant, there was great excitement in the family about the possibility of them winning the World Series.  My Great Grandmother didn't understand why there was such intensity and so much concern about winning.  In Yiddish, she expressed her anxiety asking, "What will happen to us if the Dodgers don't win?"  Knowing how fearful she was as a relatively new immigrant, my mom suspected it was probably due to her fear of deportation for not being an American citizen.  For the generations after her, it was quite the opposite.  The joy of the game helped them feel more American!”- Debbie Friedman


“Most of my baseball memories resound with family: tossing a baseball outside with my dad and my uncle; going to games became a communal event from the time I was tiny. I had the run of the right field line seats at old Crosley Field when few attended the games. I was blessed to be spoiled by The Big Red Machine which started winning when I turned 16. My uncle had season tickets and I spent more games than I was worthy of cheering for the greatest team I will see in my lifetime. My little cousin, the closest thing I had to a little brother, and me learning teams for every player on baseball cards and using mini plastic baseball caps to learn their logos, using them in a similar fashion to flash cards. We spent blissful summer evenings riding in the back seat of my parents’ car with the Reds on the radio. Life could get no better, and it all orbited baseball.

My father worked early mornings, and I know he loved me because in the 1960s, he would let me pick a few games from the Reds schedule every summer.  I also picked at least one twi-night double header when they played such things.  A double header for the price of one game, and the twi-niter started the first game after 5pm, which meant that the evening of baseball would extend til almost midnight, longer with extra innings.  My dad never flinched.  We’d go and stay for the final out, even though he had to be up 4 hours after we arrived home after two, count ‘em, two glorious games at the ballpark.

I’ve seen so many games, indoor and outdoor, but there is no cathedral as majestic as the midnight blue canopy of a summer sky over Crosley Field when I was a kid.  It was as pure as anything I’d seen, and to know that there were still many innings to play gave me one of the warmest feelings of my young life. I love this game. It’s a perfect concoction of thinking, anticipation, surprise, legacy, and social interaction that few other activities give us. It doesn’t matter the level of the game.  I’ve spent time at amateur games to games at Major League Parks.  I took my daughter one night watch some Little League games at a re-creation of Crosley Field, and I took her to the Louisville Slugger Museum and games in Louisville in addition to Reds games. I’ve watched games from coast to coast and at just about every level of play. It was all about passing on the legacy of baseball, just as my dad passed it to me.” - George Zahn


“My late uncle Joe’s favorite baseball story was that he played in a Little League game against Reds legend Joe Nuxhall.  Joe was actually a year older than was allowed, but nobody could hit Nuxhall at his age level.  Joe claims he got a hot off Nuxhall, then was suspended for playing out of his league, but claimed to his dying day it was worth it.”        - In memory of “Uncle” Joe Zahn


My father, a lawyer, who was born in Russia, came to Detroit at age 5. Like most immigrants, he was devoutly patriotic. America was the best. Period. He taught us children to learn and recite poems by American poets, and when he had the opportunity to name a hotel, he called it the Whittier after the American abolitionist poet.  He liked all things American and therefore avidly followed Baseball, the American sport.

My father was also devoutly Jewish --both the religion and all things Jewish; so it’s not surprising that Hank Greenberg was his hero.  Everybody knows that on Rosh Hashanah in 1934 Hank Greenberg hit the home run that catapulted the Tigers into the World Series.  A week afterward, Yom Kippur arrived.  Although Hank Greenberg was not an observant Jew, he simply could not bring himself to work on Yom Kippur and he went to the Synagogue. Hank chose Sharaay Zedek, the very Shul where my father was a founder and where he was praying that very day.  What a thrill for my Dad! - Beth Neman


I grew up with a Joe Morgan poster on my bedroom wall. In 1990, I hosted a "sweep" party for friends, who understood BYOB meant Bring Your Own Broom. During my solo road trip to Cooperstown for Ken Griffey Jr.'s induction into the Hall of Fame, I happily sat with "my people" in red and watched strangers become friends. Every Opening Day is celebrated with hope and happiness, each crack of the bat thrills me, and when my 2 sons and I place our hands over our hearts for the national anthem, we cherish every memory made through baseball. - Julia Sharp