Columns - 2011

    Turning a Kippah Trick

    by Doug Brook
    Southern Jewish Life columnist

    Thousands of years before hockey came along, Judaism brought the world its first hat trick. While the genocidal trick attempted by Haman -- he of the three-pointed hat -- was not very sporting, it is still commemorated today.

    It's remembered not just with jelly-filled pastries that aren't as good as you say they are, but also in sports. For example, the San Francisco Bay Area this year for the first time pulled its own hat trick by having three separate Jewish Heritage Nights at three major league sporting events. Unlike on Purim, at none of them did one have to eat anything filled with prunes.

    It all began on Sunday, April 10th, as the Golden State Warriors hosted their night along with the Sacramento Kings in Oakland. In the past two years, they've held this night against Sacramento because of Kings forward Omri Casspi, the first Israeli player in the NBA, who had a special on-court interview after the game.

    The game was preceded outside by a kosher tailgate featuring a rap session by The Ferris Wheels. Casspi, who sports number 18, of course, did not play in the game, and neither did the Warriors who failed to score until nine minutes remained in the first quarter.

    Early in the second half, the Warriors took the lead, but remembering who they were managed to lose 104-103. Thundersticks were given to the crowd late in the game, leading several spectators to, in the interest of noise reduction, search for a moyel. All that fans came away with was a Hebrew Warriors t-shirt.

    In June, Casspi was traded to Cleveland, who expect to play him more. If the NBA ever plays again; Casspi signed with Maccabi Tel-Aviv until the lockout ends.

    This year's hat trick was made possible by the first ever Jewish Heritage Night by the Oakland Athletics on Tuesday, May 17th. One might think the A's were doomed, playing the Angels this night, but fans got pastrami sliders or falafel with their tickets so all was well. They also got free parking, which happens every Tuesday, saving everyone nearly the cost of a life ($17).

    There were free A's kippot and the first pitch by the new Israel Consul General for the Pacific Northwest Region. The A's pitcher was Gio Gonzalez, the ace who allowed seven runs in under three innings in his previous start, but was blessed by a rainout that wiped out those stats.

    The first baserunner of the night was David DeJesus, who walked on water to first thanks to the recurring heavy rain throughout the game. The rain did stop once, just in time for the sponsored mid-third inning Aquafina water break.

    Jewish left-handed reliever Craig Breslow, who in the footsteps of Moe Berg has been called "the smartest man in baseball," pitched a perfect eighth inning. Breslow, a 2005 Southern League All-Star with the Mobile BayBears, was part of the half-minyan who played for the 2006 Red Sox (including Youkilis, Kapler, and Stern).

    The A's played like their cohabitant Oakland Raiders can only dream of, winning 14-0, and pulling into a tie for first place. This showed that miracles do still occur. The rest of the season has reminded that miracles are often short-lived.

    Finally, on Tuesday, August 2nd, the defending champion San Francisco Giants had their night, giving out Giants menorahs to the faithful after a Chabad tailgate, Jews for Jesus leaflet-givers outside, and Israeli dance in the plaza.

    This pivotal game against the upstart Arizona Diamondbacks featured D-backs pitcher Dan Hudson facing the Giant's Kung Fu Panda, Pablo Sandoval. This showdown reversed a biblical tale, throwing Daniel into the Panda's Den, wherein he brushed back the Panda once in every at-bat.

    For the Giants, newly acquired (and former Met) second baseman Jeff Keppinger used his keppie to single in the fourth and eventually score.

    Paul Goldschmidt, the D-backs' Jewish-sounding first baseman, the day after his Major League debut, hit his first Major League home run in the fifth inning. Also-Jewish-sounding leadoff hitter Willie Bloomquist went hitless, and also-also-Jewish-sounding reliever Brad Ziegler warmed up but did not play. (The one Jewish D-back, who also did not play, is pitcher Jason Marquis. Funny, he doesn't sound Arizonian.)

    The Giants lost 6-1 and fell into a first place tie that was an omen of things to come. But most importantly, with none of the Jewish-sounding D-backs players in the game actually being Jewish, a spectator missed the chance of legitimizing several good jokes about Arizona having these guys because the Jews are used to the desert.

    Doug Brook is a writer in Silicon Valley who reminds you that there are a dozen Jewish major leaguers, and dozens more in the minors. For more information, past columns, other writings, and more, visit For exclusive online content, become a fan at

    Copyright Doug Brook. All rights reserved.