Arizona Diamondbacks select Orthodox Jew in MLB Draft


Alec Baris, Digital Engagement Associate

Sports fans around the country have long heard the tale of famous Jewish pitcher Sandy Koufax sitting out of a World Series game to observe the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur. Now, modern fans may eventually get to experience something similar every week.

The Arizona Diamondbacks have selected right-handed pitcher Jacob Steinmetz in the third round (77th overall pick) in the 2021 MLB Draft. Steinmetz has made history as the first known Orthodox Jewish baseball player to be drafted.

The 6-foot-6. 224-pound Woodmere, Long Island native keeps kosher and traditionally observes the sabbath from sundown Friday-sundown Saturday. According to the New York Post, Steinmetz solved this inconvenience for out-of-town tournaments growing up by traveling ahead of time and choosing hotels within walking distance from fields.

Howvever, Steinmetz does play during Shabbat and on Jewish holidays, unlike Koufax, and is confident that he can continue to juggle both his play and his faith throughout his career.

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The Arizona Diamondbacks, who currently own the MLB’s worst record, are now the destination for Steinmetz to try and join the current seven active Jewish baseball players in the MLB, as well as a laundry list of former players throughout baseball history.

Steinmetz, No. 121 on the MLB’s Top 250 Draft Prospects lists, originally signed to play College Baseball with Fordham University. He now has to decide whether to go to college, or begin his professional baseball career.