Elie Kligman Will not Play Baseball on the Sabbath

Elie Kligman is a switch-hitter with energy. He has pitched no-hitters, immaculate innings and may snatch the ball with cool precision from any spot within the infield. He’s a star in each manner at Cimarron-Memorial Excessive College in Las Vegas, with desires of reaching even larger heights.

He’s additionally shomer Shabbat, that means he observes the strict guidelines of the Jewish sabbath and can’t — and won’t — play ball on Friday nights or Saturday afternoons earlier than the solar goes down.

Primarily based on expertise and want, Kligman is nice sufficient to realistically entertain his dream of taking part in Main League Baseball, or a minimum of high stage school ball. However he is aware of his devotion to his religion may shatter that dream earlier than it begins, and he is able to settle for that.

And even when a giant league workforce had been to supply Kligman a $10 million signing bonus, with the promise that he can be taking part in in entrance of 40,000 individuals later this summer time — supplied he agrees to play on the sabbath — he insists he would stand agency in his conviction.

“No,” Kligman stated when requested if he may very well be enticed to interrupt his spiritual obligations. “That day of Shabbas is for God. I’m not going to alter that.”

Many Jewish gamers have declined to play on sure spiritual holidays by means of the many years, primarily on Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashana. One of the vital notable cases got here when Sandy Koufax, the Corridor of Fame left-hander, selected not pitch in Game 1 of the 1965 World Series as a result of it fell on Yom Kippur. (His substitute, Don Drysdale, bought shelled, and when Supervisor Walter Alston eliminated him within the third inning, Drysdale stated, “I guess proper now you would like I used to be Jewish, too.”)

However lacking the occasional sport in October is nothing in comparison with sitting out each Friday night time and Saturday afternoon sport. The idea may show notably tough in school, the place many packages play doubleheaders on these days. It is going to be a problem, however Kligman and his household have been working by means of the identical obstacles ever since Elie and his youthful brother Ari, 16, had been small boys.

Observant Jews might not work throughout a 25-hour interval from sunset on Friday till darkish on Saturday, nor might they use electrical energy or tie knots, akin to those discovered on baseball spikes. They might not tear clothes, just like the uniform pants which will be shorn when a participant slides into second base, they usually might not flip the soil, which is technically what occurs each time spikes rip into grass or the infield dust. Most of all, it’s a day supposed to be set aside for non secular reflection.

For Kligman, it’s nonnegotiable. As a lot as he loves baseball, he is not going to forsake his spiritual beliefs, even when it may ultimately thwart every part he has been working towards. If there’s a manner across the battle, it largely relies on whether or not he’s adequate — some in baseball consider he may very well be — through which case, schools and later main league groups, may make the concessions crucial to permit him to remain true to himself and his faith, and nonetheless play ball.

He’s solely 18, with fairly an extended method to go, however Kligman has already launched into a journey to make baseball historical past.

“My aim is to grow to be the primary Shabbas observant participant in Main League Baseball,” he stated.

One benefit he has is his father, Marc Kligman, a former catcher and outfielder with a self-described “nondescript profession” at Johns Hopkins College. A lawyer, Marc Kligman can be a licensed baseball agent, and he understands the panorama that prospects should navigate to be able to fulfill their desires. However his son’s quest is totally different from theirs.

Through the years, Marc Kligman has needed to petition his sons’ little leagues, pony leagues, journey packages, excessive colleges and all-star scouting occasions to make scheduling lodging so his boys would be capable of play as many video games as doable. He stated these efforts have typically been profitable, as most individuals have tried to assist.

Nonetheless, there have been missed video games and laborious discussions.

The primary time it occurred, when Elie was eight, he sat out a Saturday playoff sport. Throughout a second alone along with his son, Marc requested Elie how he was doing. Elie stated he felt not noted, however that Shabbas was extra vital.

“I used to be blown away,” Marc Kligman stated. “Right here’s a child who received’t put God second. However he believes that the 2 can coexist. He’s bought six days of the week to do every part he can to be a baseball participant, and if schools and Main League Baseball aren’t inclined to make any adjustments, then we’ll take what we will get.”

The Kligmans say there are a handful of school coaches — the household is not going to determine them, but — who’re conscious of Elie’s convictions and nonetheless need him to play for his or her groups.

Elie is 6-foot, about 185 kilos and is ranked by Prep Baseball Report because the No. 14 prospect in Nevada, and he carried out nicely at a current scouting occasion hosted by the publication, which had 65 professional scouts in attendance. Brett Harrison, who scouts Nevada for the report and has seen Kligman play many instances, stated that he has the instruments and the baseball information to make an impression at a Energy 5 school program inside a 12 months or two.

“I feel along with his capability to pitch and play a number of positions nicely, he’ll add inherent worth wherever he finally ends up going,” Harrison stated.

Kligman’s present coach is Mike Hubel, a former minor league participant, who has been teaching for 25 years, the final 22 at Cimarron-Memorial. Lots of his gamers have superior to play at main school packages and several other have made it to the majors. He says Elie Kligman has the expertise and the drive to grow to be an excellent professional, however is unsure how schools {and professional} groups — and the leagues they play in — will view his spiritual restrictions, which Hubel acknowledged will be tough to barter at instances, even for a highschool workforce that’s prepared to accommodate them.

“I feel it’s going to be a problem,” Hubel stated, “however then once more, for those who discover a good Division I program with an excellent coach that’s prepared to permit it, then it received’t be an issue. He’s an exceptional teammate. He doesn’t discuss along with his mouth, he talks along with his glove and his bat, and he can again it up.”

In some methods, skilled baseball — if Kligman will get that far — may very well be a greater match, if solely due to a key necessity of 1 place on the sphere.

Of all of the traits that decide the place gamers are positioned on the baseball area — athleticism, energy and whether or not a participant is left- or right-handed — faith has hardly ever, if ever, been an element. However as random as it could sound, Kligman’s religious Judaism is the rationale he’s now concentrating on catching.

Owing to the bodily and psychological pressure of the place, catchers are given common days off through the week. Within the skilled ranks, it’s typically one of many weekend afternoon video games — probably an adaptable match for Kligman.

Kligman started specializing in catching this 12 months as a result of that may very well be the most effective long-term path to a profession in baseball. He has the arm, the arms and the brains for the place, Hubel stated, and the hope is that if Kligman makes it to the skilled ranks, his days off may very well be set for Friday night time and Saturday afternoon.

With many groups now taking part in Saturday night time video games, Kligman may even arrive after the solar has set and play in these, too. He has carried out it quite a few instances. The Kligmans wrap up their sabbath observance with the Havdalah ceremony — a ritual commemorating the top of the sabbath, through which contributors sip wine (or grapefruit juice on sport day), gentle a candle, sniff a candy spice to recall the sweetness of the day, say a prayer — after which Elie and Ari bounce of their uniforms and zoom off to a sport.

“We will do Havdalah, dress of their uniforms and be out the door in lower than 10 minutes,” Marc Kligman stated. “Actually environment friendly.”

As phrase of Elie Kligman’s expertise and aspirations have unfold by means of the Jewish neighborhood, he has grow to be a well-liked speaker on Zoom calls at Jewish day colleges and synagogues throughout the nation. The youthful kids wish to know what quantity he wears and what his batting common is. The older one wish to know the way laborious his sacrifice is.

Kligman explains that what he’s doing is for God, so there is no such thing as a feeling of sacrifice.

“It’s fairly superb that they’re desirous about my life,” he stated. “It form of offers them hope that, if that’s what you actually wish to do, you possibly can play baseball. However simply not on Shabbas.”

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