Designated Hebrew: The Ron Blomberg Story is a pleasant little book that recounts the baseball career of Ron Blomberg. With the writing assistance of Dan Schlossberg, Blomberg recalls his eight seasons in baseball’s major leagues, mostly with the New York Yankees, and how his injuries undermined his talent.
Despite flashes of brilliance, ultimately Blomberg is best remembered for an essentially passive act: on April 6, 1973, he entered the record book as the first designated hitter to come to bat in a major league game, but drew a base on balls. The bat he used, complete with a Star of David drawn on the knob, is now displayed in Cooperstown at the Baseball Hall of Fame. Thus, Blomberg is represented by an implement of force, but celebrated for an at-bat which did not require its use. Instead of “Blomberg Swings,” the caption for the display should read, “Blomberg Watches.”
Embraced as “the Jewish Yankee,” Blomberg tells about his recently-discovered connection to Israel, as well as the Bronx. Playing in New York gave him a Jewish identity, and making a game-winning hit before the start of Rosh Hashanah in 1973 gave him hero status as “the Sundown Kid,” but it also exposed him to anti-Semitic taunts. It is disappointing, therefore, that such a free-swinger would offer observations such as “a couple of players were definitely anti-Semitic” and “Now that I wasn’t considered a superstar-in-the wings, some anti-Semitism emerged on occasion from a few of my teammates” without identifying his antagonists.
This is a good gift for young baseball fans, showing them that Jewish identity can be built in a myriad of ways.