Jews In Sports: Exhibit Page @ Virtual Museum

Harold U. Ribalow and Meir Z. Ribalow
Page 31 of 290

Jewish Baseball Stars

McGraw's dream of a lifetime: "If there was only a Jewish baseball player who could fill the park." McGraw was good to Andy, who told me, "As far as I am concerned, McGraw was the greatest man in baseball. Although I have profound admiration for others, including Tris Speaker, Donnie Bush, Dave Bancroft, Mike Kelly of Minneapolis, John Ogden, former owner of Elmira, all of whom I have played for."

Andy Cohen was a natural athlete. At the age of sixteen he was a high school star on his team in El Paso, Texas. He was so good that he could have started as a professional even then. But he wanted an education. So he went to the University of Alabama. Andy tells me that "I was a three-letter man - football, basketball and baseball. I was elected captain of the baseball team, the first Jew to be captain of any varsity sport at Alabama." His exploits won him so much fame and so many offers that he succumbed after three years at Alabama and signed up to play baseball for pay. He joined Waco of the Texas League in 1925 and in less than two months was sold to the New York Giants for $25,000 and another player.

Andy's debut was an amusing one and is worth retelling. Here is the story as Andy Cohen told it to me: "My first appearance as a Giant was as pinch-hitter for Frank Frisch, in Philadelphia in 1926. I singled to center on the first pitch. I was so surprised when McGraw called me off the bench (Frisch had a sore foot) that I couldn't open any of the buttons on my jacket. There were no zippers at that time. So I jerked with both hands and buttons flew to the left and right. McGraw remarked, 'What does he care for expenses?' "

But McGraw wanted Andy to get real experience. He