GREEN, SHAWN DAVID


GREEN, SHAWN DAVID (1972– ), U.S. baseball player. Born in Des Plaines, Illinois to Ira and Judy, Green grew up in a non-practicing family in Tustin, California, did not attend Hebrew school, and did not have a bar mitzvah, but Green became a highly visible symbol for the Jewish community throughout his career. Green's father, a gym coach who later became the owner of a baseball training facility, worked closely with him to improve his baseball skills, and he became a standout player at Tustin High School. He made his Major League debut on September 28, 1993, and came up from the minors to stay in 1995. In 1998 Green became the first Jew to hit 30 home runs and steal 30 bases in one season. On May 23, 2002, Green had the most productive day in baseball history with the 19 total bases, hitting four home runs, a double and a single. The next day Green homered and singled, tying a two-game record with five HRS and 25 total bases. The following day Green hit two more HRS, and the seven home runs in three games was also a record. He had his best season in 2001, batting .297 with 49 HRS, 125 RBIs, and 20 SBS. He was voted to the All-Star team in 1999 and 2002, and won a Gold Glove Award in 1999. In 2005, Green hit his 300th career HR, the second Jew to ever do so.

Green was the most visible Jewish player during his career, in part because of his status as the best Jewish player of his generation. After the 1999 season with Toronto, he asked to be traded to a team in a city with a large Jewish population, and was sent to Los Angeles. In 2001, in the midst of a pennant race, Green opted not to play on Yom Kippur – while the other Jewish players did – which made news as it voluntarily stopped his 415 consecutive-game streak. Three years later, Green again made headlines when faced once more with a decision whether to play on Yom Kippur, in the midst of a crucial series in a late-season pennant race. This time he had games on Yom Kippur night and the following day, and decided to split the day, opting to play Kol Nidrei night but not the following afternoon. Green hit the game-winning home run that night, but the issue and his split decision was debated across the country, with many praising him for honoring the holiday and others criticizing him for his not fully observing Yom Kippur.

"Everyone approaches their worship in their own way and goes about it differently," Green said. "I'm not Orthodox. I am Jewish and I respect the customs, and I feel like this is the most consistent way for me to celebrate the holiday. I feel real good about my decision."

[Elli Wohlgelernter (2nd ed.)]


Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.