Elie Kligman Will not Play Baseball on the Sabbath

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

Based mostly on expertise and need, Kligman is nice sufficient to realistically entertain his dream of enjoying Main League Baseball, or at the least high degree school ball. However he is aware of his devotion to his religion might shatter that dream earlier than it begins, and he is able to settle for that.

And even when an enormous league group have been to supply Kligman a $10 million signing bonus, with the promise that he could be enjoying in entrance of 40,000 individuals later this summer time — offered he agrees to play on the sabbath — he insists he would stand agency in his conviction.

“No,” Kligman mentioned 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 change that.”

Many Jewish gamers have declined to play on sure spiritual holidays via the a long time, primarily on Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashana. One of the vital notable situations got here when Sandy Koufax, the Corridor of Fame left-hander, selected to not pitch in Sport 1 of the 1965 World Sequence 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 mentioned, “I bet right now you wish I was Jewish, too.”)

However lacking the occasional sport in October is nothing in contrast with sitting out each Friday evening and Saturday afternoon sport. The idea might show significantly difficult in school, the place many applications play doubleheaders on these days. It will likely be a problem, however Kligman and his household have been working via the identical obstacles ever since Elie and his youthful brother Ari, 16, have 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, for some, tie knots, similar 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 every time spikes rip into grass or the infield filth. Most of all, it’s a day supposed to be set aside for non secular reflection.

RELATED :  Covid Live Updates: Vaccine Rates, Cases Map, Delta Variant and More

For Kligman, it’s nonnegotiable. As a lot as he loves baseball, he is not going to forsake his spiritual beliefs, even when it might ultimately thwart the whole lot he has been working towards. If there’s a approach across the battle, it largely relies on whether or not he’s ok — some in baseball imagine he may very well be — by which case, schools after which main league groups would possibly make the concessions essential to permit him to remain true to himself and his faith, and nonetheless play ball.

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

“My goal is to become the first Shabbas observant player in Major League Baseball,” he mentioned.

One benefit he has is his father, Marc Kligman, a former catcher and outfielder with a self-described “nondescript career” at Johns Hopkins College. A lawyer, Marc Kligman can be a licensed baseball agent, and he understands the panorama that prospects should navigate with a view 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 applications, excessive faculties and all-star scouting occasions to make scheduling lodging so his boys would have the ability to play as many video games as doable. He mentioned these efforts have usually 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 8, he sat out a Saturday playoff sport. Throughout a second alone together with his son, Marc requested Elie how he was doing. Elie mentioned he felt neglected, however that Shabbas was extra necessary.

“I was blown away,” Marc Kligman mentioned. “Here’s a kid who won’t put God second. But he believes that the two can coexist. He’s got six days of the week to do everything he can to be a baseball player, and if colleges and Major League Baseball aren’t inclined to make any changes, then we’ll take what we can get.”

RELATED :  Katie Couric's makeup-free photos embrace aging. How to do the same

The Kligmans say there are a handful of faculty 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 ranked by Prep Baseball Report because the No. 14 prospect in Nevada, and he carried out effectively at a latest 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, mentioned that he has the instruments and the baseball data to make an affect at a Energy 5 school program inside a 12 months or two.

“I think with his ability to pitch and play several positions well, he will add inherent value wherever he ends up going,” Harrison mentioned.

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 applications and a number of other have made it to the majors. He says Elie Kligman has the expertise and the drive to turn out 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 difficult to barter at instances, even for a highschool group that’s prepared to accommodate them.

“I think it’s going to be a challenge,” Hubel mentioned, “but then again, if you find a good Division I program with a good coach that’s willing to allow it, then it won’t be a problem. He’s a phenomenal teammate. He doesn’t talk with his mouth, he talks with his glove and his bat, and he can back 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 sector.

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

RELATED :  Bolivia's former interim president was arrested as political tensions attain new highs

Owing to the bodily and psychological pressure of the place, catchers are given common days off in the course of 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 one of the best long-term path to a profession in baseball. He has the arm, the palms and the brains for the place, Hubel mentioned, and the hope is that if Kligman makes it to the skilled ranks, his days off may very well be set for Friday evening and Saturday afternoon.

With many groups now enjoying Saturday evening video games, Kligman might even arrive after the solar has set and play in these, too. He has finished it quite a few instances. The Kligmans wrap up their sabbath observance with the Havdalah ceremony — a ritual commemorating the top of the sabbath, by which individuals sip wine (or grape 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 can do Havdalah, get dressed in their uniforms and be out the door in less than 10 minutes,” Marc Kligman mentioned. “Really efficient.”

As phrase of Elie Kligman’s expertise and aspirations have unfold via the Jewish group, he has turn out to be a well-liked speaker on video chat calls at Jewish day faculties and synagogues throughout the nation. The youthful youngsters need to know what quantity he wears and what his batting common is. The older ones need to know the way laborious his sacrifice is.

Kligman explains that what he’s doing is for God, so there isn’t a feeling of sacrifice.

“It’s pretty amazing that they are interested in my life,” he mentioned. “It kind of gives them hope that, if that’s what you really want to do, you can play baseball. But just not on Shabbas.”