All-American Pastime


"Three thousand years of beautiful tradition, from Moses to Sandy Koufax." This quote from the 1998 film The Big Lebowski is displayed outside the entrance to "Chasing Dreams: Baseball & Becoming American," an exhibit at the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia (through October 26).

The exhibit presents the history of Jewish participation on the diamond. It goes all the way back to Lipman Pike, the first Jewish player and the sport's first publicly paid professional, who started swinging the bat in the 1860s. The exhibit includes many well-known Jewish players, like Koufax and Hank Greenberg, as well as other barrier-breakers, like Jackie Robinson, the first black player in the majors; Roberto Clemente, the first Latino World Series winner; and even Ichiro Suzuki, the first Japanese-born position player in the majors, currently on the New York Yankees' roster. As America is a nation of immigrants, so is its national pastime a slow-boil melting pot. -Ed Krayewski