Jewish Former Baseball Star Kevin Youkilis Steps Up To The Plate
Back in 2006, Denis Leary discovered professional baseballer Kevin Youkilis was Jewish, and launched into this rant against Mel Gibson, which has become folklore.
Fast forward to October 2023. While Kevin Youkilis has not just discovered his Judaism, he does seem to have discovered the importance of his voice as a well-known Jew.
So he has stepped up to the plate in a big way.
Kevin Youkilis never sought the spotlight.
The three-time All-Star won two World Series during his 10-year MLB career, but he’s always tried to be a team player.
“I’m not an attention guy,” he told the Herald. “I think most people know that I don’t seek it. Like, I do the (Red Sox) broadcast because I love baseball, but I don’t really crave the attention or all that stuff.”
But over the past two weeks, he’s stepped into the spotlight he never sought to support Israel and condemn anti-Semitism.
“(My) Initial response was pure anger and sadness,” Youkilis said. That day, he posted a photo of himself coaching Team Israel in the 2023 World Baseball Classic, writing “I stand with Israel.”
Another text-only Instagram post stated, “Antisemitism is on display for the world to see. Many have had their eyes opened while others turn a blind eye because they don’t want to believe it. It goes against the ideological beliefs of their peers. I’ve never been more proud to be Jewish than now.
“Be proud and never let hate and evil make you hide your Jewish heritage.”
“I think people around me know how proud I am of my Judaism, my heritage, my people,” he said. “But I’ve never really handled being a public figure very well because I don’t see myself as any label… I just don’t want to be the central focal point of anything, I’d rather be a part of the group.”
He credits his involvement with Team Israel for making him realize how meaningful representation is to Jewish people.
“Team Israel opened my eyes to that,” he explained. “It just never hit me until Team Israel how special that is. Sandy Koufax before us, and Hank Greenberg. Many of the Jewish baseball players that come through, there’s someone that a young Jewish ballplayer is connecting with currently and striving to become them some day.
“Just one of you being in the major leagues and having success is a huge deal, for not just the baseball players, but the whole Jewish population.”
“The hard part of our lives is trying to explain our heritage, explain our religion, the variations within the Jewish religion, to other people,” Youkilis said. “I’ve always stood for my heritage, for the people, my friends, family, the State of Israel, and that’s based on my ancestors, people before me that have died, were put in horrible situations, forced to move because of who they were.”
“We’re a minority,” Youkilis said, “And I’m just very confused. People say they are for the minorities and fight for minorities, but then they are so anti-Jewish.”
“It’s evil versus good, and I think the hardship is, people don’t see it as that,” he added. “A lot of people say something is simple when it’s actually really complex, and then people use, ‘It’s really complex’ when something’s very simple. When this happened, I felt it was very simple, that this is an atrocity, but people like to say it’s complex, and it’s wrong.”
“We are 0.2-percent of the entire population,” Youkilis said, when asked what message he’d want to send to non-Jews around the globe. “Jewish people aren’t trying to run the world, they’re just trying to keep their family and heritage alive.
“And I think to the Jewish people, it’s that we need to be united. Be there for each other, protect each other mentally and physically. Figure out, mentally, how to get through the day and physically, how to keep yourself protected and out of harm’s way.”
Youkilis and close friends from the fraternity put out a request to fellow active and former Jewish Major Leaguers: help us humanize this.
Last week, they posted the video to Instagram.
“What I’ve learned was, my voice is actually bigger than I would ever think my voice would be within the Jewish baseball community,” Youkilis said. He knows it won’t fix everything, but silence won’t fix anything.
“I’ve never really been very vocal, but I felt this was the time to be very vocal.”
Meanwhile, Kevin has since also uploaded this video:
We need more celebrities like Kevin not just calling out the evils of Hamas, but lifting our spirits.