Testing the Koufax Curse: How 18 Jewish Pitchers, 18 Jewish Hitters, and Rod Carew Performed on Yom Kippur

37 Pages Posted: 13 May 2020 Last revised: 28 May 2020

See all articles by Howard Wasserman

Howard Wasserman

Florida International University (FIU) - College of Law

Date Written: May 11, 2020

Abstract

October 8-9, 2019, the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur, marked a unique moment in the history of baseball and American Judaism. Three Major League post-season games began between sundown Tuesday and sundown Wednesday. One team in each game featured a Jewish player as a star or significant contributor. Each Jewish player appeared in the game. Each team lost. One journalist labeled this result the "Koufax Curse" -- the curse of the Jewish player who plays on Yom Kippur, rather than following in the footsteps of Hall-of-Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax, who did not pitch Game One of the 1965 World Series when it fell on the holy day.

This paper empirically tests the Koufax Curse. Looking at 18 Jewish Major Leaguers since 1966 (the year after Koufax's career-defining game), the paper charts how the players and their teams performed in games played during any part of Yom Kippur. It also examines statistics for Rod Carew, the Hall-of-Famer who is not Jewish but enjoys a unique familial and cultural connection to Judaism. From this, we can measure whether players or teams are haunted by the Koufax Curse. And whether Yom Kippur 5780 was an anomaly or reflects a broader trend.

Keywords: Judaism, Baseball, Sports, Religion

Suggested Citation

Wasserman, Howard, Testing the Koufax Curse: How 18 Jewish Pitchers, 18 Jewish Hitters, and Rod Carew Performed on Yom Kippur (May 11, 2020). Florida International University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 20-07, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3598544 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3598544

Howard Wasserman (Contact Author)

Florida International University (FIU) - College of Law ( email )

University Park, DB 2065
Miami, FL 33199
United States
305-348-7482 (Phone)

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