Jews play ball 

In nine seasons with the Cleveland Indians, Al Rosen slugged 192 home runs, twice leading the American League, and in 1953 came within a single point of winning baseball’s coveted Triple Crown. If not for the broken finger he suffered in 1956, effectively ending his career, he might be a Hall of Famer today.

Rosen, 86, president of the San Francisco Giants from 1985 to ‘92, isn’t one to dwell on the past.

But he was happy to reflect on his playing days for the new documentary “Jews and Baseball: An American Love Story,” an official selection at this year’s San Francisco Jewish Film Festival.

The film revisits the experiences of several Jewish ballplayers, from all-time greats Hank Greenberg and Sandy Koufax to current stars Ryan Braun and Kevin Youkilis.

For Rosen, who made his major-league debut in 1947 after serving in the Navy during World War II, participating in the film was a no-brainer.

“I was in a convoy heading toward Japan in 1945,” says Rosen, once known as the “Hebrew Hammer.” “I knew I was going to be out of the service in a few months, in time for spring training in 1946. That was a huge thing for every aspiring ballplayer — we all wanted to get home.

“It was very emotional to see the experiences of Jewish ballplayers captured on film. There was anti-Semitism in the game, less when I played than when the first Jew signed a contract in the 1880s, but I heard it from fans and opposing players. I used to confront people about it, but as I matured I let my play do the talking. As a guy who had a couple good years and happens to be Jewish, I felt honored to tell that story.”


IF YOU GO

Jews and Baseball: An American Love Story

Presented by San Francisco Jewish Film Festival

Where: Cinearts@Palo Alto Square, 3000 El Camino Real, Palo Alto

When: 2 p.m. Saturday 

Where: Berkeley Repertory Theatre, 2025 Addison St., Berkeley

When: 2:15 p.m. Sunday

Tickets: $10.50 to $12

Contact: (866) 558-4253, www.sfjff.org

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Staff Report

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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