Mike Epstein


Mike Epstein
Mike Epstein
First Baseman
Born: April 4, 1943 (1943-04-04) (age 68)
The Bronx, New York
Batted: Left Threw: Left 
MLB debut
September 16, 1966 for the Baltimore Orioles
Last MLB appearance
April 28, 1974 for the California Angels
Career statistics
Batting average     .244
Home runs     130
Runs batted in     380
Teams
Career highlights and awards
Medal record
Baseball
Olympic Games
Gold 1964 Tokyo Baseball

Michael Peter Epstein (born April 4, 1943 in the Bronx, New York), nicknamed SuperJew, is a former Major League Baseball player for the Baltimore Orioles, Washington Senators, Oakland Athletics, Texas Rangers, and California Angels from 19661974.[1][2][3]

The first baseman was noted as a strong power hitter who did not hit for a high batting average, though he walked (and was hit by pitches) so often that he finished with a respectable career .359 on base percentage.

Contents

High school

Epstein was a member of the baseball and football teams at Fairfax High School in Los Angeles.

College and Olympics

Epstein played baseball at the University of California-Berkeley. As a junior in 1963 he hit .375 and was offered a contract by the Los Angeles Dodgers, but his father insisted he finish college.

A collegiate All-American in 1964, he was a member of the first U.S. Olympic team that year, and helped them win the gold medal.

Minor leagues

In 1965, Epstein began his professional baseball career in the Baltimore Orioles organization and was dubbed "Superjew" by rival manager Rocky Bridges in the California League after Epstein led the league in batting and home runs that year. He was MVP of the California League that year for the Stockton Ports.

In 1966, playing for the Rochester Red Wings, he was then named Sporting News Minor League Player of the Year, after being also named the International League MVP (.309, 29 HR, 102 RBI).

Major leagues

He was first brought up for 6 games by the Baltimore Orioles in 1966, at the age of 23, having hit over .300 with at least 29 home runs and 100 RBI in his first two minor league seasons.

After the Orioles tried in vain to convert him to the outfield (they already had Boog Powell at first base), they demoted him to Rochester again. The outspoken Epstein refused to report, going home to California instead, and did not play again until the end of May 1967, when he was traded by the Orioles with Frank Bertaina to the Washington Senators for Pete Richert. Later that season, in first at-bat against the Orioles, Epstein hit a grand slam.

In 1968 he was 4th in the league in hbp (9).

He had arguably his best season in 1969 with the Senators, when in only 403 at bats he hit 30 home runs (9th in the American League), had 85 Runs Batted In, and hit for a respectable .278 batting average (and .347 with runners in scoring position) with an excellent .414 on base percentage and .551 slugging percentage. He was 4th in the league in hbp (10), and hit a home run every 13.4 at bats. He was 25th in voting for the American League MVP. This was also the only year in which the reconstituted Senators finished above .500.

In 1970 he was 2nd in the league in hbp (13), while hitting 20 home runs.

In May 1971 he was traded by the Senators with Darold Knowles to the Oakland Athletics for Frank Fernandez, Don Mincher, Paul Lindblad, and cash. In 1971, while hitting 18 home runs in 329 at bats, he was hit by the pitch 12 times, leading the league.

In 1972 he hit 26 home runs (3rd in the league) for the world champion Athletics. He hit a home run every 17.5 at bats (3rd in the AL), had a .490 slugging percentage (5th), a .376 on base percentage (6th), 62 walks (10th), and was hit by a pitch 11 times (2nd). He was 16th in voting for the American League MVP.

In November 1972 he was traded by the Athletics to the Texas Rangers for Horacio Pina. The A's wanted to free up the first base position for Gene Tenace, who was the star of the 1972 World Series. In May 1973 he was traded by the Rangers with Rich Hand and Rick Stelmaszek to the California Angels for Jim Spencer and Lloyd Allen. In 1973 he was 7th in the league in hbp (8).

On May 4, 1974, he was released by the Angels.

He was inducted as a member of the United States National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 2004.[4]

Through 2010, he was sixth all-time in career home runs (behind Mike Lieberthal) among Jewish major league baseball players.[5]

After baseball

In 2007, Epstein was running a hitting school.[6]

Miscellaneous

  • Owing to his ethnic and religious background, along with his power, Epstein's nickname was "Superjew."
  • Epstein wore a black armband during the 1972 playoffs in memory of the 11 Israeli athletes murdered by terrorists at the Munich Olympics. Teammates Ken Holtzman and Reggie Jackson also wore the armbands. Somewhat surprisingly, A's owner Charles Finley, who usually demanded conformity from his players, gave them the OK to wear the tributary items until the season ended with the A's World Series victory.
  • During his minor league days with the Rochester Red Wings, he drew the Star of David onto his glove.[7]
  • Epstein had great success against Joe Niekro during his career, going 7–10 with 4 home runs and 4 walks.[8]

See also

References

  1. ^ The Big Book of Jewish Baseball: An Illustrated Encyclopedia & Anecdotal History. 2001. http://books.google.com/books?id=9ZzxydPInwgC&pg=PA55&dq=superjew+mike+epstein&hl=en&ei=duJJTYiGB4yt8AbyioWCDw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CCsQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=superjew%20mike%20epstein&f=false. Retrieved February 2, 2011. 
  2. ^ High and Inside: My Life in the Front Offices of Baseball. 2007. http://books.google.com/books?id=YijlSyl2vW4C&pg=PA58&dq=superjew+mike+epstein&hl=en&ei=duJJTYiGB4yt8AbyioWCDw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2&ved=0CDEQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q&f=false. Retrieved February 2, 2011. 
  3. ^ Ellis Island to Ebbets Field: Sport and the American Jewish Experience. 1993. http://books.google.com/books?id=qjOYf1YAhaoC&pg=PA242&dq=superjew+mike+epstein&hl=en&ei=duJJTYiGB4yt8AbyioWCDw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=4&ved=0CDsQ6AEwAw#v=onepage&q=superjew%20mike%20epstein&f=false. Retrieved February 2, 2011. 
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ "Career Batting Leaders through 2010". Career Leaders. Jewish Major Leaguers. http://www.jewishmajorleaguers.org/. Retrieved February 10, 2011. 
  6. ^ Lukas, Paul (April 2, 2007). "A kosher look at Judaism in baseball". ("Uni Watch", on) ESPN Sports. Archived from the original on August 1, 2010. http://www.webcitation.org/5rfkbWOO4. Retrieved August 1, 2010. 
  7. ^ Paul Lukas (April 2, 2007). "Uni Watch: Passover edition". ESPN. http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=lukas/070402&sportCat=mlb. Retrieved January 16, 2011. 
  8. ^ "Mike Epstein vs. Pitchers". Baseball-Reference.com. http://www.baseball-reference.com/pi/b-pvb.cgi?n1=epstemi01&year=1973#minPA2=10&minPA=10&n1=epstemi01&as=batter&year_game=career&orderby=BA. Retrieved January 16, 2011. 

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