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June 28, 2011

Lots about Lance Berkman

If you haven't already, make sure you read Dan Connolly's story about Chris Jakubauskas and Lance Berkman. It's a great account of the Berkman line drive that nearly ended Jak's career, with both players weighing in on how the incident affected them. Check it out right here.

Now I can tell my favorite Berkman story, which is a lot more fun:

lanceberkmanap.jpgBack when I was The Sun's national baseball writer and Berkman was just breaking out as a big-time power hitter with the Houston Astros, one of my favorite editors (Ray Frager) thought it would be a great idea if I met the Astros in Florida and did a story on how he might turn out to be the greatest Jewish power hitter since Hank Greenberg. So I headed down to Joe Robbie Stadium -- or whatever they called it then -- and found then-Astros PR guy Warren Miller to set me up with an interview.

He thought it was pretty interesting that somebody would come from Baltimore to see Berkman, who has no Mid-Atlantic connections, so he asked me what my angle was going to be. When I told him, he laughed and ruined my day.

"That would be a great angle if Lance were Jewish,'' he said.

Well, I felt about three inches tall, and began to shrink further when Warren yelled across the clubhouse to Berkman.

"Hey Lance,'' he said. "I've got another writer here who thinks you're Jewish."

Berkman looked up and smiled, so I went over to talk to him, figuring I'd just do a standard feature on one of baseball's up-and-coming stars.

"So I'm not the first guy to make that mistake,'' I said.

"No," he replied, "but don't feel bad. You are the first guy who ever flew 1,000 miles to do it."

How could you not like that guy? I've been a fan ever since.

Associated Press photo

Posted by Peter Schmuck at 10:57 AM | | Comments (15)
Categories: Just baseball


Next time, try doing a story on Ryan Braun....

Wow, that must have been a long time ago. You know, a time before they had phones, so you might have done a little calling around to find out if the guy was Jewish BEFORE you actually made that trip. It was definitely long enough ago that whoever owned The Sun had money to burn on trips like that! I doubt you'd get permission to do that now!

Pete's reply: Indeed, it was a long time ago, but I think you may be overthinking it. I just thought it was a cute story.

I had a trip like that once. When the client cancelled out, I called the office who said everything was paid for so I got 3 days at the Beach for free.

Hope it worked out for you too Pete.

Wasn't Gabe Kapler supposed to be a great Jewish hitter?

And was it true that many years ago, the Orioles didn't want to trade Mike Epstein because he was expected to be a big star, and the team wanted to keep him because he was Jewish?

There just aren't a lot of my fellow Tribesmen playing baseball. Do you know how many Jewish players are currently in MLB? I don't.

So the Sun spent my subscription dollars on airfare to pursue some bogus angle that could've been clarified with a phone call.

Too bad our guy Andy didn't go after Berkman instead of Lee. Lance would have been a tremendous asset.
Oh, I forgot...we only go after liabilities. Never mind.

Hey, Peter! Was that you that caught that foul ball in the pressbox on Sunday? It looked like you. If so, nice catch!!!

Very funny stuff, Peter! But Berkman looks so much like fat Elvis, how could you think he's Jewish?

That's a funny story.

I once assumed an old co-worker with the last name Weiss was Jewish as well when I wished her a happy Passover. When she said she wasn't Jewish I felt like, pardon the pun, a schmuck.

Well at least we have Ryan Braun and a few others to root for.

That's funny. It reminds me of the story I heard about John Lowenstein doing an interview with a Jewish reporter about being a Jewish athlete. I heard he even told him about the Bar Mitzvah he never had.

Wha? John Lowenstein wasn't Jewish? Next thing you're gonna tell me is that Steve Stone wasn't either.


I used to read you religiously. Now that some shill at the Sun decided to censor the blog, I check in once a week, in hopes that things will go back to normal again.

I've slowly migrated to the Orioles Insider blog. Not that you will miss me. I'm not flattering myself. I'm just saying.

Orioles insider is not better than your blog used to be, but the response time there is better. Take this as a friendly knock on you!

Pete's reply: Oh, I'll definitely miss you, though I'm on the Orioles Insider blog too. I'm still trying to get the block taken off, but haven't succeeded yet.

You're a pretty good guy about it, too, Pete. It seems to me it was Frager's boo boo, not yours, even though you took the brunt of it.

I thought lance, like sue, is a Yiddish verb.

Funny story Pete.

Anytime someone brings up Hank "The Hebrew Hammer" Greenberg I'm reminded of another Jewish player who played for the Orioles in the fifties, Myron Nathan "Joe" Ginsberg.

Met Joe once at a recreation center. Found out that he grew up in Detriot and that he was a hugh Greenberg fan. From a kid's perspective Joe was a really nice guy.

I was sorry when the Orioles released him but by the time they did he wasn't the same player he was when he first arrived.

Its okay, we still have two of the greatest that were Jews-Hank Greenberg and Sandy K, and both were not afraid to show it, unlike Ryan Braun and others of today!

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About Peter Schmuck
Peter Schmuck wants you to know that, contrary to popular belief, he is more than just a bon vivant, raconteur and collector of blousy flowered shirts. He is a semi-respected journalist who has covered virtually every sport -- except luge, of course – and tackled issues that transcend the mere games people play. If that isn’t enough to qualify him to provide witty, wide-ranging commentary on the sports world ... and the rest of the world, for that matter ... he is an avid reader of history, biography and the classics, as well as a charming blowhard who pops off on both sports and politics on WBAL Radio. That means you can expect a little of everything in The Schmuck Stops Here, but the major focus will be keeping you up to the minute on Baltimore’s major sports teams and themes, whether it’s throwing up the Orioles lineup the minute it’s announced or updating you on the latest sprained ankle in Owings Mills. Oh, and by the way, that’s Mr. Schmuck to you.

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