On Sunday, The New York Times’ Joshua Prager presented former Brooklyn Dodgers hurler Ralph Branca, 85, with evidence his mother had been born Jewish. Though this was a considerable revelation for Branca (above), the news wasn’t exactly celebrated in all corners. “If you’re a Jewish baseball fan, would you rather find out Ralph Branca had a hidden Jewish past or that Bobby Thomson did?” asked Jewish Baseball News’ Scott Barancik. “All things being equal, give me Thomson.” Even happier to claim association with a winner is attorney/professor Alan Dershowitz, who argues to the Times’ Richard Sandomir, “Ralph Branca is not Jewish.”
“Whatever the definition, it doesn’t include someone who willingly accepted a different religion,” Dershowitz said. “He didn’t stay home on Yom Kippur like Koufax.” (Koufax, of course, knew he was a Jew.)
Dershowitz, in fact, theorized that Branca, to his eyes as a boy, did not pitch “Jewishly.”
“Koufax altered strength and guile and knew that you pitch for six days and you rest on the seventh,” he said. “Branca was straight-on; you could see there was nothing Jewish about Ralph Branca.”
Note: Dershowitz said he turned to atheism (at 13) after Branca’s fateful pitch to Thomson.