The Year Ahead: Tigers Go Jewish. Can They Go to Promised Land?
Tue, 12/31/2013
Tigers manager Brad Ausmus, right: Move over, Lipman Pike. Photo via Tigers.com
Tigers manager Brad Ausmus, right: Move over, Lipman Pike. Photo via Tigers.com

Israelites would grumble that Moses was a terrible skipper, but Joshua had an easier time following him than Brad Ausmus will have following legendary Jim Leyland as manager of the Detroit Tigers. Including interim fill-ins, Ausmus will be Major League Baseball’s fifth Jewish manager (Lipman Pike, Andy Cohen, Norm Sherry, Jeff Newman) going back to 1871, when in the dawn’s early light of baseball, Pike was player-manager of the Troy Haymakers, and later the Hartford Dark Blues and Cincinnati Reds. (Lou Boudreau was among a few managers with one Jewish parent, but the family considered itself Christian).

Like another who wore the Olde English “D,” Hank Greenberg, Ausmus once didn’t play on Yom Kippur, explaining he needed to atone for a lousy season. The very model of a modern major pluralist, he has a Jewish mother, Protestant father, Catholic wife, and he’s a secular Zionist: The 44-year-old’s only managerial experience was leading Israel in the World Baseball Classic. Greenberg took abuse in the Detroit of Henry Ford and Father Coughlin, but “You Can’t Hurry Love,” and now love has come. The announcement of Ausmus was met by cheers. After signing him, the Tigers’ first trade was for Jewish all-star Ian Kinsler, and who in Motown (and in Comerica Park) didn’t like that?

Jonathan Mark