Baseball and Judaism share emphasis on tradition, says new Hall of Fame president

Josh Rawitch grew up admiring baseball greats like Sandy Koufax. Now, he interacts with some of his childhood heroes on a regular basis.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

For the new president of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, the 2022 induction ceremony this Thursday is far more meaningful than simply carrying out an aspect of his job.

Josh Rawitch, a Jewish native of Los Angeles, said the experience of announcing who will join the storied institution as official all-time greats is the fulfillment of a childhood dream.

“As a lifelong baseball fan, I’m not sure that there is a cooler honor than doing that, other than maybe sitting on the dais, which I got to do during the last induction ceremony,” Rawitch told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA).

“You look around and your baseball card collection has kind of come to life around you. They’ve earned their way onto the stage, and I don’t know that I’ll ever feel like I did. But it’s a pretty amazing and humbling experience.”

Rawitch told the outlet that the sport and Judaism have a lot in common, including an emphasis on tradition, family, and hard work.

“You walk into a synagogue and you feel the tradition,” he said. “You light candles and you feel the tradition… knowing that there’s generations of people that came before you and did the same thing.”

Rawitch, who worked in baseball for almost three decades as a communications professional for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks, grew up admiring legendary Jewish players like Sandy Koufax.

Now, in his role as the head of the Hall of Fame, he interacts with his childhood heroes on a regular basis.

“There are plenty of times in a day where my phone rings and you’re just kind of in awe that you’re getting the chance to talk to somebody who you either grew up watching, or who you just have great respect for,” Rawitch told JTA.

“Part of what I’ve learned in working in baseball for a quarter century is that baseball players are just like you and me.… If you show them the respect that they’ve earned, but at the same time just build a personal relationship with them, you start to realize they’re just like anyone else.”

As baseball’s popularity has declined in recent years, Rawitch said he’s determined to bring back interest in the sport and ensure that younger generations will experience its magic.

“How people consume baseball, and how people consume the history of it, we just have to make sure we’re delivering that in a way that continues to be relevant for future generations,” said Rawitch.

“If we can do that, and we can continue to get people to understand just how special this sport is, and how important it is that we preserve it, that’s probably tops on my list of things we can accomplish.”