Zack Gelof at one of his first games in Oakland. (Photo/Courtesy Oakland A's)
Zack Gelof at one of his first games in Oakland. (Photo/Courtesy Oakland A's)

Zack Gelof is realizing a ‘lifelong dream’ as a second baseman for the Oakland A’s

The Oakland Athletics have promoted a Jewish player to their team, 23-year-old second baseman Zack Gelof. He made his debut with the A’s on July 14 and notched his first big league hit — a double.

“I’m excited for this lifelong dream to come true,” Gelof wrote in a text message to J. on Thursday. “Now it’s onto staying in the big leagues.”

In five games with the A’s as of Wednesday, Gelof had accumulated a .211 batting average. The speedy infielder also had two stolen bases, two doubles and a triple.

Gelof could brighten the future for the A’s, which has suffered through a bleak season so far. The franchise is on pace to finish with one of its worst records in history and currently has the worst record in all of baseball this season.

Plus, the team appears poised to permanently skip town for Las Vegas in the not-too-distant future, upsetting longtime fans including a robust Jewish contingent.

Gelof was in his childhood bedroom when he learned about his promotion, according to Jason Burke of FanNation. He said he woke up to a text from his minor league manager, Fran Riordan, urgently telling him to call.

“I ended up sprinting down the stairs like it was Christmas,” Gelof told Burke.

Gelof grew up in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, where he attended Hebrew school at Seaside Jewish Community. He also played for Team Israel at this year’s World Baseball Classic.

“I agree with almost all of the ideals that come with the religion,” he told J. in a March interview. “Most of the ideals that are practiced I think I take in my life and especially through the game of baseball.”

After being drafted out of the University of Virginia by Oakland in 2021, Gelof has arrived in the big leagues in just two years, a relatively quick progression from the minor leagues. Some players spend their entire careers on minor-league teams and never get a shot at the majors.

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As a highly touted prospect, Gelof will get opportunities to prove himself, barring anything drastic.

Gelof was told prior to the start of this season that one of his objectives would be to “dominate” at the minor-league level with Triple-A Las Vegas Aviators. Whether he achieved domination is debatable, but he performed impressively with Las Vegas, compiling a .401 on-base percentage and slugging 12 home runs in 69 games.

Gelof’s younger brother, Jake, was drafted earlier this month by the Los Angeles Dodgers. Coincidentally, he was selected at the exact same point in the draft as his brother, 60th overall. The junior Gelof also attended the University of Virginia where he set the career home run record.

Gelof was not the only player who arrived in Oakland after a promotion during the All-Star break earlier this month. Tyler Soderstrom, who is 21, was the A’s top prospect and a 2020 first-round pick. The arrival of both players will give A’s fans the hope that perhaps they are witnessing the start of something special.

The older Gelof is the 18th Jewish player to play in a major league game this season, a record that topped last year’s total of 17 players. Other notable Jews in MLB include Joc Pederson of the San Francisco Giants and Alex Bregman of the Houston Astros.

Gabe Fisher
Gabe Fisher

Gabe Fisher is a freelance journalist who served as interim editorial assistant at J. in 2022. Follow him on Twitter @ItsGabeFisher.