It is always exciting when I get to talk to the younger players coming up in their respective sports, but meeting Jon Moscot was extra special. He has a unique love for the game of baseball and his Judaism. I am not sure there is a better role model for young Jewish kids in any sport right now.
I am proud to add him to my growing list of amazing Jewish athletes at www.TheGreatRabbino.com. I am also giving away a FREE Jon Moscot signed baseball. Tweet out this story and tag me @TheGreatRabbino and you could win.
Tell us about yourself
First and foremost thanks for having me. I grew up in Santa Monica, California with two younger brothers and an amazing family. I was brought up in the Orthodox temple and was very busy in the community with Boy Scouts as well as playing on many baseball travel teams. I attended a junior college my freshman year of college and then transferred to Pepperdine University where I had the unique experience of being one of the few Jewish ballplayers ever to play there. Since graduating with an economics degree, I have played professionally for the Cincinnati Reds, making it to the MLB in 2015.
What inspired you to play baseball?
I remember growing up watching the New York Mets on television and hearing my dad talk about how he played stickball on the streets in Brooklyn as a kid growing up. He was a die-hard Mets fan and I came to be as well. I wanted to do the same thing he did and when I picked up a ball at age 7, it just stuck. I could never put it down and I've been playing ever since.
Who is the toughest hitter you have ever faced?
Over the years there have been a lot of tough hitters. I remember in college facing Kris Bryant at the University of San Diego and I threw him a fastball somewhere where nobody else would have touched it. He absolutely crushed that ball, but I'm about as lucky as I've ever been; the wind was blowing that day because it held it in the yard. I've faced him a few times since, most recently this year in Cincinnati and we still laugh about it. But at the Major League level I would have to say Miguel Cabrera. The scouting report on him before the game was "good luck" and when he steps up to the plate he's a force to be reckoned with.
After your call up last season you got injured fairly quickly. How's the arm and what did you take away from that experience?
Yeah, actually it was seven pitches into my third start; came out to be the shortest start of the season for any pitcher! Kind of funny. But honestly I took away that everything happens for a reason and God has a plan for us all. I got to sit around and learn from veterans and soak up more about the game than I could have imagined. I got to spend almost 3/4 of the season in the clubhouse with all the guys and it allowed me to see the game differently. It's amazing how much there is to learn. But as far as my arm goes I'm happy to report it's all good and back to normal!
How was your season in AAA and what's next for you?
This season I started in the Majors and was optioned to AAA for six starts until I hurt my right elbow and had to have Tommy John surgery. Once again on the DL and definitely not the way I wanted my season to end, but it's a small part of a long journey and I'm happy to say I'm doing great. I was supposed to pitch for Team Israel in the World Baseball Classic qualifier but obviously can't now that I'm on the DL, but I'll be there in four years.
You grew about in a fairly religious environment. Can you tell us about your upbringing and what role does Judaism play in your life?
Yeah, my father was born into an extremely Orthodox Jewish family in Brooklyn, New York in the '50s. He and his brother attended Yeshiva and spent a large portion of their lives in Israel. Being raised Jewish, to me, has provided me with an unbelievable support group from not only my family, but friends and other Jews across the globe. Judaism is my belief, it's my culture and my heritage and it has molded me into the person I am today. The reason I try and stand out in the community is due to the Torah's teachings and wanting to make a difference in others' lives. Being Jewish is a special thing.
I know you have family in Israel. Have you ever been and what's your connection to the Holy Land?
I do, my uncle and cousins live in Jerusalem and Efrat respectively. I have been once, I traveled once with my dad when I was 8 years old. My grandparents were buried there, but that was a long time ago and I don't remember as much as I would like. I plan on going back in the next few years and staying for a couple of weeks.
Have you ever gotten to meet Sandy Koufax? If so what was that experience like? If not, what would you ask him?
I've never gotten to meet Sandy but my hope is that someday I'll get the opportunity. He was the greatest and I'd ask him how difficult a decision it was not to pitch on Yom Kippur in the '65 World Series because that's something I truly respect.
You are fairly active on Twitter (@JonnyMoscot). What role does Social Media play in the world of sports?
I think that social media is a great thing. Through social media I've been able to reach people I probably would never have seen or spoken to in my life and get to talk to them and sometimes even make a difference in their lives. Sometimes I'll joke, sometimes I'm serious, but social media is just me being me and I enjoy it a lot. Through my Instagram, actually, I have kept up a strong relationship with a young Jewish boy from New York fighting cancer named Avi Newhouse. He's doing some incredible things raising pediatric cancer awareness and this is an example of what social media has to offer -- spreading awareness, getting in touch with fans and friends and showing people that there's more to the athlete than just the uniform.