THE RABBI OF SWAT by Peter Levine


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The Jazz Singer moves uptown to the Polo Grounds, in a first novel by historian Levine (Ellis Island to Ebbets Field, 1992) based on the early career of the New York Giants” first Jewish pitcher. Like many a nice Jewish boy before him, Morrie Ginsberg doesn—t always see eye to eye with his father. Jake Ginsberg is a real greenhorn, an immigrant who got out of the Russian shtetl and made it to Brooklyn, where he settled down to business and raised a nice family. And for this his son Morrie is grateful? That all depends. Morrie practically grew up on the streets, and on the streets of Brownsville in the 1920s, you—re going to learn more about baseball than about the rag trade. Babe Ruth and the Yankees are the bane of Giants” owner John McGraw’s life, especially since Yankee Stadium is less than five blocks from the Polo Grounds. How to win back the crowds that the Bambino has poached from the Giants? Well, a Jewish pitcher might not be a bad start, especially if he’s any good, and McGraw’s scouts have found this kid Ginsberg over in Brooklyn. So Morrie is signed up, much against his father’s wishes. He’s not exactly prepared for the world of the major leagues, but he finds his feet in short order and eventually leads the Giants to a National League pennant and a shot at the Yankees. Along the way, Morrie become friends (of a sort) with the Babe and straightens things out with Dad, who comes to see that his son is as American as baseball itself. Corny but fun. The oy-gevalt dialogue (—You play a stupid game, a job for bums not men, and this makes you important? Such a country I don—t understand!—) is straight out of an old Goldbergs episode, but the characters (and the games) seem real enough to satisfy any baseball fan—and many other readers as well.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-87013-517-1
Page count: 266pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1999


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