SI Vault
 
Let's Hear It for the Rabbi of Swat
Ron Berler
October 21, 1991
To boost attendance, the 1923 New York Giants signed minor league slugger Mose Solomon
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
October 21, 1991

Let's Hear It For The Rabbi Of Swat

To boost attendance, the 1923 New York Giants signed minor league slugger Mose Solomon

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue
1 2 3

In 108 games at first base at Hutchinson, Solomon had made 31 errors. The Sporting News had noted in June, "The Hutchinson management now proposes to make an outfielder out of [Solomon], it being the opinion that he is too ungainly to make a star first baseman." In rightfield, his contribution at Hutchinson was an abysmal .862 fielding average.

So McGraw sat the Rabbi and his 49 home runs, his .421 batting average and his .833 slugging percentage on the bench, too scared to play him until the Giants had safely clinched the pennant. Meanwhile, attendance at the Polo Grounds went up, but the fans berated McGraw daily for starting two other less-heralded rookies ahead of Solomon—a first baseman named Bill Terry and an outfielder named Hack Wilson, two more future Hall of Famers.

By Sept. 30, when the Giants played their last regular-season home game, against the Boston Braves, the fans had had enough. "The voices in the stands were calling for and to Mose all afternoon," reported the New York Tribune. "Wails went up when the Giants' lineup was given out without Solomon's name where [first baseman Highpockets] Kelly's is wont to be.... So loud did the wailing become that McGraw weakened and sent in Solomon to patrol Ross Youngs' beat in the second frame.

"As that appropriate line, 'Solomon playing right field for New Yawk,' wafted over the Polo Grounds from the announcer's megaphone, the voices waxed jubilant. It was, 'Oh, you Mose!' and 'We're with you, Solomon.' "

His first time up he struck out, looking, on three pitches. The next two times he flied out weakly.

"The Hebraic hitter," summed up John Kieran of the New York Tribune, "had been up three times...without causing a riot."

Then with the score 3-3 in the bottom of the 10th, and Frisch on second with two out, the Rabbi smoked relief pitcher Joe Oeschger's first pitch over third base for a double. Kieran was unable to contain himself. " Frisch...romped home on the noble blow by Mose Solomon, the noted scion of a prominent family of junk dealers in Columbus, Ohio," he wrote.

Three days later Ruth himself joined the Giants for an exhibition game against the International League champion Baltimore Orioles. The Giants played three rightfielders: the Sultan of Swat, followed by Wilson, followed by the Rabbi of Swat. Fans that day witnessed a key difference between the two Swatsmen: The Babe hit a home run completely out of the ballpark; the Rabbi, the New York Daily News reported, "grounded out feebly."

Solomon made his first and only start the final day of the season, Oct. 7, against the Brooklyn Dodgers in Ebbets Field. He went 2 for 4, both hits being singles, and in the field committed what the New York American termed "an inglorious muff." But it was all the same to the [ Brooklyn] crowd," reassured the American. "They were all with Mose."

Well, not quite everyone. McGraw lost his enthusiasm for the Rabbi when Solomon decided to return home to Columbus rather than remain in New York for the 1923 Giants-Yankees World Series. McGraw had wanted him on the bench to attract fans, even though he was not on the Giants' Series roster. For this duty, McGraw offered to pay him nothing. The Rabbi, needing the money, chose instead to play pro football in Ohio. McGraw sold him to Toledo the following January.

Continue Story
1 2 3