|Ralph Branca with his parents in 1947|
As Joshua Prager of The New York Times reported in For Branca, an Asterisk of a Different Kind, Ralph Branca is a Jew. And he never knew.
A Hungarian genealogical group researched Branca's mother, Kati, and discovered:
- The 1884 marriage of Ignatz Berger and Antonia Gipsz, a ceremony at which Jakob Friedman, a rabbi in Sandorf, had officiated.
- The births of the couple’s eight children over the next 12 years: Kati, the eldest, and Miksa, Sandor, Irma, Fanni, Sandor, Moricz and Jozsef. (The first Sandor died as a toddler.)
- The mohels and sandeks who performed each bris and held each boy during the circumcisions.
- The arrival of Kati in the United States. On Nov. 17, 1901, a gatekeeper at Ellis Island categorized her as single, Hungarian, a seamstress, white, literate and “Isr”— Israelite, signifying a Jew.
Prager points out that“Maybe that’s why God’s mad at me — that I didn’t practice my mother’s religion,” he said. He was smiling but sincere, a Job wondering about the root of his suffering. “He made me throw that home run pitch. He made me get injured the next year. Remember, Jesus was a Jew.”
and wonders how his landsmen will react when they learn thatIn 1951, one of every three Brooklynites was a Jew, and many held as fast to their chosen team as to their inherited religion.
... the great goat was doubly chosen — that the baseballer most identified with victimhood was born to a Jewish mother ....And how has Branca reacted?
Branca had to find room for his Jewishness in his life story, and quite literally. His autobiography, A Moment in Time, was due out in September. He inserted two sentences.Abq Jew was one year old, and remembers exactly where in the Polo Grounds (seating capacity: 56,000) he and 56 million others stood at 3:58 p.m. EST on October 3, 1951, when Bobby Thomson broke our hearts.
Here is Abq Jew's reaction to Ralph Branca's Jewishness: We knew it all along.