Web Spotlight: RailCats’ Adam Klein chooses to play Game 3 on Yom Kippur
By Michael Osipoff email@example.com or 713-2485 September 12, 2013 9:46PM
Railcat's Adam Klein rounds 3rd base for home off of a triple by Mike Massaro at The Steel Yard on Saturday September 7, 2013. | Jim Karczewski\Sun-Times Media
American Association Championship (best-of-5 series)
RailCats vs. Wichita Wingnuts (series tied 1-1)
Game 1 — RailCats 9, Wingnuts 4 (Tuesday at the Steel Yard)
Game 2 — Wingnuts 6, RailCats 4, 10 innings (Wednesday at the Steel Yard)
Game 3 — 7:05 p.m., Friday, at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium (RHP Billy Spottiswood vs. LHP Anthony Capra)
Game 4 — 7:05 p.m., Saturday, at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium (RHP Morgan Coombs vs. RHP Justin Klipp)
Game 5 (if necessary) — 7:05 p.m., Sunday, at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium (LHP Alain Quijano vs. RHP Junior Guerra)
Updated: September 12, 2013 11:14PM
GARY — Adam Klein previously hadn’t been confronted with the issue or had to face the conflict.
But with the RailCats playing Wichita in the American Association championship series, the first time he has advanced that far in the postseason in a professional career that began in 2007 in the Oakland Athletics organization, he had a decision to make: To play or not to play on Yom Kippur?
And with the holiest day of the Jewish calendar beginning on Friday at sundown and ending on Saturday at sundown, Klein did not enter into it lightly. When the RailCats play the Wingnuts in Game 3 of the best-of-5 series on Friday night at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium, he will be in his familiar leadoff spot as the team’s left fielder.
“Obviously, it’s a challenging situation,” Klein said. “Whether I’m justifying or not, I haven’t really strictly adhered to my religion, or let’s just say it’s been quite challenging to do so, throughout my playing career. The holidays when I’m at home (in Los Angeles) I’m able to celebrate with my family and be there, and adhere to the principles of the religion. But my primary focus right now is to be here and to take care of the task at hand.”
Probably most famously in terms of major league baseball, Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax chose not to pitch Game 1 of the 1965 World Series for the Los Angeles Dodgers against the Minnesota Twins because it was on Yom Kippur (he still started three games and was named MVP as the Dodgers won the title). In 1934, Hall of Fame first baseman Hank Greenberg opted not to play as the Detroit Tigers were involved in a pennant race with the Yankees (though they lost that game to New York, the Tigers made the World Series for the first time in 25 years, before losing to the St. Louis Cardinals).
Among more recent scenarios, Shawn Green figures prominently. In 2001, he sat out with the Dodgers, ending a streak of 415 consecutive games played, which at the time had been the longest current run in the majors. And in 2004, with the Dodgers trying to hold off the San Francisco Giants in the National League West, he chose not to play on the night of Yom Kippur then played an afternoon game the following day (the Dodgers wound up winning the division).
Klein remembers the turn of events with hometown player Green, and it resonated with him.
“That was kind of something that stood out for me,” Klein said. “That was really an example of him taking the initiative. It’s kind of sad to say, but if I was a little more devoted to my religion, it might be a different story. The reality is, the last several years, I haven’t been that devoted to it. It’s been challenging being a baseball player, playing during a significant chunk of the year.”
Last week during Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, the RailCats were on the road playing Fargo-Moorhead in a semifinal series. Third base coach Bobby Segal walked about a mile-and-a-half to a temple to attend services on the morning of last Thursday night’s Game 2. Klein briefly entertained the idea of joining Segal, but he didn’t want to disrupt his routine — baseball players typically aren’t morning people in general — one he described as often becoming like “Groundhog Day.”
“Our (pregame) handshake, we put yarmulkes on top of each other, we say L’Chaim and we pretend like we’re drinking Manischewitz,” Klein said of his version with Segal. “And then we hug it out and say, ‘Tribe love.’ I know it’s comical. But that’s kind of like my religious union here. That’s one way to keep myself involved in the religion somewhat.”
Klein’s parents attended the RailCats’ championship series games at the Steel Yard, and they also were scheduled to make the trip to Wichita.
“I imagine if they weren’t here, they probably would go to temple (on Yom Kippur),” Klein said.
“They know how special this (playing for a title) is for me, and for them too.”