Play ball

Here’s a rundown of the active and recently retired Jewish major league baseball players, prepared with the help of Jewish Sports Review newsletter. All the players listed below have at least one Jewish parent and were raised Jewish or without religion.

Outfielder Shawn Green and catcher Mike Lieberthal retired during the off-season. Each is in the top 5 on the all-time major league Jewish home run list. Lieberthal, a two-time All-Star who had a solid 13-year career, is No. 5 with 150 lifetime homers, behind Hank Greenberg (331), Green (328), Sid Gordon (202) and Al Rosen (192).

Green never fulfilled the prediction that he would become “the Jewish Babe Ruth.” Still, he had good career numbers in 12 seasons with Toronto, Los Angeles and the New York Mets, collecting 2,003 hits (No. 2 on the Jewish list behind Buddy Myer‘s 2,131) and driving in 1,070 runs (No. 2 on the Jewish list behind Greenberg’s 1,276).

He played pretty well in 2007, but his contract with the Mets ran out and he announced his retirement in February. Green apparently got a few offers, but he was looking to sign with a West Coast team so he could be near his wife and kids. Green has been active in Jewish charities.

Ryan Braun, 24, broke into the majors last May with the Milwaukee Brewers and slugged his way to National League Rookie of the Year honors with 34 homers, 97 RBIs and a .324 batting average. The son of an Israeli-born father and a Catholic mother, Braun was raised without religion and with few Jewish cultural ties. However, last year he accepted an invitation to the annual White House Chanukah celebration.

Also on the Brewers’ roster is outfielder Gabe Kapler. In 2007, Kapler retired after eight years in the majors, but has come back, signing a one-year deal with the Brewers. He has done well in spring training. Kapler also has been active in Jewish charity work.

Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis, 29, had a breakthrough season in 2007, hitting .288 with 16 homers, a ton of walks and a Gold Glove for his fielding. Youkilis, who was bar mitzvahed, had a solid Jewish religious upbringing. Last September, he recently told a reporter that he set up a charity foundation to help low-income kids.

“In my religion, the Jewish religion, that’s one of the biggest things that’s taught, is giving a mitzvah, forming a mitzvah,” he said back then. “I was always taught as a kid [about] giving to charity. You’re supposed to give a good amount of charity each and every year. That probably started in my youth.”

Completing the roster of 2008 major league Jews: Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Jason Hirsch; Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Jason Marquis; Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher John Grabow; Texas Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler; Houston Astros catcher Brad Ausmus and second baseman David Newhan; and New York Mets reliever Scott Schoeneweis. Cubs outfielder Sam Fuld and Rangers relief pitcher Scott Feldman, who attended Burlingame High School and the College of San Mateo, recently were sent to the minors.

Screen notes

As I write this, Tony-winning actress Marissa Jaret Winokur, 35, is still competing on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars.” She’s not a great dancer and I doubt she’ll survive into the last rounds. But Winokur does have something big to celebrate: She is pregnant, sort of. In 2002, Winokur was diagnosed with cervical cancer and had a hysterectomy. The doctors were able to save her ovaries. Last month, Winokur announced that a surrogate is now five months pregnant with Marissa’s fertilized egg. (Winokur is married to comic writer Judah Miller.) … “My Blueberry Nights,” opening Friday, April 4, is a quirky, romantic road picture. Norah Jones plays a New Yorker who travels across the country, meeting a lot of weird characters along the way. Among them are a policeman’s wife, played by Oscar-winner Rachel Weisz, and a young woman (Natalie Portman) who almost takes Jones for all her money.

Columnist Nate Bloom , an Oaklander, can be reached at [email protected].

Nate Bloom

Nate Bloom writes the "Celebrity Jews" column for J.