Praise for the Book

Named the Number One Baseball Book of 2013 by Sports Collectors Digest
and a ForeWord Review 2013 Book of the Year Award finalist, sports category

“[Among] a handful of books that have acquired the status of classics.… This is useful and well-crafted work of oral and cultural history, featuring the life stories of well-known and as well as lesser known and unheralded Jews. Compiled from 50 engaging interviews and arranged by decade.&rdquo
Robert Birnbaum, "Baseball Books 2017 Part I and more," Our Man in Boston, March 30, 2017. Read the complete blog post.

“The Jewish dimension in baseball unfolds in American Jews and America’s Game, written by Larry Ruttman and published by the University of Nebraska Press. Covering the period from the 1930s onward, the book is wide-ranging in its scope. Famous Jewish players, like Ken Holtzman and Kevin Youkilis, sound off, as do Marvin Miller and Donald Fehr, the former executive directors of the Major League Baseball Players Association. Jerry Reinsdorf, a team owner, explains himself. Barney Frank, a former U.S. congressman, speaks for fans. This substantive volume adds heft to baseball historiography.”
Sheldon Kirshner, Sheldon Kirshner Journal, June 20, 2015 (read the full column)

“A large, ambitious, and deeply personal work, this book attempts to define the Jewish-American experience through the prism of baseball. With sections organized around decades, American Jews and America’s Game ranges from the 1930s to the present. Original face-to-face interviews, conducted in venues as disparate as Rancho Mirage, Phoenix, Manhattan, Cooperstown, Boston, Baltimore, Kissimmee, and Tel Aviv, provide the core content. Telling photographs, many taken by the author, burnish the commentary.… Ruttman’s interviews, fifty in total, merit commendation for scope, respondent selection, and content.”
William M. Simons, Journal of Sport History, Vol. 41, No. 1, Spring 2014 (read a longer excerpt from Project MUSE)

“Ruttman reports on his subjects’ backgrounds and the manner in which their Jewishness has affected their lives and careers. In this regard, American Jews & America’s Game is as much about American Jewish identity and the anti-Semitism that pervaded the country in decades past as it is about Jews and baseball, and this adds depth and dimension to each chapter. With the exception of [Hank] Greenberg, who passed away in 1986, Ruttman interviews all his subjects; Greenberg’s story is told via conversations with those who are connected to him, starting with son Steve, daughter Alva, and Ralph Kiner.… Prior to reading a chapter on an individual with whom I was familiar, I asked myself: What will I learn about this person that I do not know? More often than not, Ruttman offers observations that transcend the obvious.”
Rob Edelman, NINE: A Journal of Baseball History and Culture, Vol. 22, No. 1, Fall 2013 (read a brief excerpt from Project MUSE or the full review (PDF))

“The book is sure to be read by American Jews who love baseball and wrap themselves in a bear hug of pride in their coreligionists’ presence—nay, prominence—in the country’s national pastime.… The book stands apart for focusing on the interviewees’ discussion of their Jewish and baseball identities, rather than their professional résumés alone, said Jonathan Sarna, professor of American Jewish History at Boston’s Brandeis University. ‘I really found it surprisingly interesting because it was so different,’ Sarna, who admits to not being a big sports fan, says of the book. ‘Solomon Schechter thought that you need to know about baseball to be a better American,’ says Sarna of the renowned Jewish educator, who died in 1915. ‘Here, [Ruttman] is saying you can learn about American Jews in baseball in order to be a better Jew.’”
Hillel Kuttler, Haaretz, January 23, 2014 (read the full review)

American Jews and America’s Game is handsomely produced and nicely illustrated, but the heart of the book is Larry Ruttman’s enthusiasm and total delight in meeting and talking with so many baseball personalities. The interviews are personal, with the unifying theme of Jewish identity, although both Ruttman and many of the people he speaks with call themselves cultural Jews and do not practice Judaism. But when Ruttman describes his excitement at sitting with Ian Kinsler in the visitors’ dugout at Fenway Park or receiving a phone call from Sandy Koufax, readers will share Ruttman’s sense of wonder and joy.”
Maron L. Waxman, The Jewish Voice (read the full review)

“The historian Jacques Barzun was right when he said, ‘Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball.’ Larry Ruttman knows that too, and that is why I chose to write the foreword to his book American Jews and America’s Game. His stories cover almost one hundred years of American history and the place of American Jews in that history…. This is a book that celebrates family—baseball’s, yours, and mine.”
Allan H. “Bud” Selig, Commissioner of Major League Baseball

“There may well be more books about Jews and baseball than there are Jews who played professional baseball. But this one is different. Here baseball’s most interesting Jews speak in their own words about their lives, their love of the game, and above all about their Judaism. Informative, inspiring, historically significant and a pleasure to read, this is a book that anybody who cares about America’s game or America’s Jews will cherish.”
Jonathan D. Sarna, author of American Judaism: A History and chief historian of the National Museum of American Jewish History

“Ruttman spent five years researching the book, interviewing not only Jewish players and executives but fans, like Rabbi Michael Paley and famed attorney Alan Dershowitz, who just plain love baseball. It’s fascinating stuff.”—Kevin Cullen, The Boston Globe, September 20, 2013 (read the full column)

“A history of Jews in baseball, as told by players, executives, and fans from the 1930's to right now. Told in a warm and folksy style with interviews and photos, thus will be a classic in the sport and in the religion.”—Dana Brigham, Moment Magazine, September-October 2013

Even if you know nothing about baseball, this is an interesting read. In particular, the thoughtfulness of the responses to questions about Judaism, Jewish identity and community are fascinating, and provide a unique aspect to the book.”—Cynthia Ramsay, Jewish Independent, November 22, 2013 (emphasis added; read the full review)

“The disgraced outfielder Ryan Braun, known as the Hebrew Hammer, merited only a brief mention and a picture even before he was suspended by the Brewers for his connections to a clinic accused of supplying banned drugs.”—David M. Shribman, Bloomberg Businessweek (read the full review)

“This longtime attorney remains a gentle, always enthusiastic questioner, interested in his subjects’ love for the game, their experiences with anti-Semitism and their connection to their faith.”
Kirkus Reviews (read the full review)

American Jews and America’s Game is a highly accessible book about the game America’s Jews love to love. The author allows his subjects great latitude to comment on their Jewishness and their association with the game. The interviewees range from baseball’s best to ordinary fans, united around their faith and favorite sport. This is an enjoyable read.”
Daniel Kurtzer, former U.S. Ambassador to Egypt and Israel and the first Commissioner of the Israel Baseball League

American Jews and America's Game by Larry Ruttman is more than a baseball book. On a much deeper level, it makes a major contribution to the humanities. It captures brilliantly the humanity of each of these ballplayers, executives, and other Jewish men and women associated with the game. That is done by illuminating how, through the highs and difficult times of their lives, they’ve been guided by Jewish values. And how they’ve passed those values on not only to their families but to all those they’ve worked with. A perfect example: the influence of Hank Greenberg on teammate and lifelong friend Ralph Kiner.”
Arthur J. Singer, President, Massachusetts Broadcasters Hall of Fame; author of Arthur Godfrey: The Adventures of an American Broadcaster and of Boston's Downtown Movie Palaces

“Each interview is jam packed with great information that was not only inspirational at times, but also very interesting to read. Ruttman conducted all the interviews himself, traveling across the states and to as far away as Israel. Overall, I think the book is really excellent!! You will learn so much and Larry has a great writing style. I would highly suggest buying it, for anyone who is interested.
Matt Nadel, age 14, Seamheads.com (read the full review and interview)

“I thoroughly enjoyed [American Jews and America's Game]. I know that all the people who will have the pleasure of seeing and hearing you will share the same feelings I have…. What a great book you have written!”
Al Rosen, 1953 American League unanimous Most Valuable Player, 1987 Executive of the Year as the General Manager of the San Francisco Giants, well-known as “The Hebrew Hammer”

The Boys of Summer was really something else: genuine players in their next life. But American Jews and America’s Game is as much cultural history as it is baseball, and there is nothing quite comparable.”
Sol Gittleman, Alice and Nathan Gantcher University Professor of Judaic Studies, Tufts University and author of Reynolds, Raschi, and Lopat: New York’s Big Three and the Great Yankee Dynasty of 1949-1953 

“It’s a tremendous piece of work, and we’re lucky to have it.”
Rob Neyer, Baseball Nation (read the full review)

“This is a book about baseball in the same sense that Tolstoy’s masterpiece, War and Peace, is about Napoleon’s invasion of Russia.… Like Tolstoy, [Larry Ruttman] tries to encompass a huge topic—in this case, baseball’s memories, plus its life lessons and their meaning for us all—by bringing us stories from many perspectives. We hear from players, owners, politicians, the commissioner of baseball and occasionally, just plain fans.”
Marvin Cohen, The Reporter, published by the Jewish Federation of Broome County, New York (read the full review)

“This book of intimate and revealing conversations with Jews who care passionately about baseball is a surprise and delight… In the tradition of Studs Terkel, Ruttman’s warm and folksy style lets us feel like we’re in the room with them as they share their thoughts and feelings about Judaism, baseball, and life. It’s a great read. Ruttman has a gift for bringing people out and the results are fabulous.”
Rabbi Rebecca T. Alpert, associate professor of religion at Temple University and author of Out of Left Field: Jews and Black Baseball

“In the mold of Studs Terkel, Larry Ruttman, a Boston lawyer and a lifelong fan of the game, pieces together the similarities and differences among the varied personalities with an idiosyncratic writing style that amuses while it addresses subjects ranging from baseball heroics to serious social issues.”
—Andrew P. Fleischer, The Jewish Journal (read the full review)

“The beauty of the telling is in Ruttman’s willingness to let the characters speak for themselves. It is reminiscent of Studs Terkel’s many books of oral history which were memorable for the richness of tales that each person could tell. The personal narrative stands alone.”
Ted Leavengood, Montgomery Community Media (read the full review)

“Ruttman includes stories of prominent Jewish players past and present…. But the more innovative parts of the book are the first-hand stories of Jewish academics, fans, team owners, and other baseball royalty who influenced or observed the growth of the game—and the simultaneous progress of American Jewry.”
Stuart M. Katz, Jewish Baseball News (read the full review)

“[American Jews and America’s Game] shows the impact baseball can have on people that extends well beyond the confines of the diamond. It also has an impressive reach into lives that many wouldn't expect of a simple game played with a bat and a ball.”
Andrew Martin, MLB Dirt (read the full review)

“The long, detailed interviews in Mr. Ruttman’s book will be of interest to those curious about the lives of persons connected with baseball or in the changing practices of Judaism.”
Dorothy Seymour Mills, author of Chasing Baseball: Our Obsession with Its History, Numbers, People and Places, in the New York Journal of Books (read the full review)

“It took Ruttman from 2007 to 2013 to conduct these interviews, which took place in a variety of locales including Massachusetts, Florida, California, Arizona, New York and Israel. Everyone interviewed told Ruttman about his growing up Jewish, and dealing with Jewish identity, anti-Semitism and religious observance.....It is well written and the reader will easily identify the people the author has interviewed and will likely be interested in how each has responded to Ruttman’s questions.”
Burton A. Boxerman, author of Jews and Baseball), in the St. Louis Jewish Light (read the full review)

 

Order now.