No. 36, Bob “Reuven Ben-Avraham” Tufts

by Jason Epstein

The New York Jewish Week’s Jonathan Mark profiled former Royals and Giants relief pitcher, Princeton graduate, and good friend of NR, Bob Tufts.

In Mark’s article, Bob recalls playing in the Bronx:

On April 27, 1983, remembers Tufts, in his first and only game in Yankee Stadium, in his next to last game in the majors, he looked up at the stands, taking it all in, slowly. He stepped off the mound, waiting for Bob Shepherd to announce his name in Shepherd’s deliberate, elegant cadence: “Now pitching … for the Kansas City Royals … Number 36 … Bob … Tufts.” Then Graig Nettles singled to right.

He also discusses his conversion to Judaism while in the minor leagues:

One night in 1981, “I was sitting in the bullpen in Tucson, Ariz. Our closer, Gene Pentz, out of nowhere, asked me if I accepted Jesus Christ as my lord and savior. I turned to him and said, ‘It’s funny you mentioned that. I’ve started the process of converting to Judaism, so no, I don’t.’ Gene’s eyes blazed, and he said sternly, ‘Well, you’re going to hell,’ and he turned back to watch the game. That’s how we left it. I was extremely upset, and called Suzanne [my wife].

Lo and behold, Gene went into a slump and I got better,” pitching to a rarified 1.70 earned run average, taking over Pentz’s job as closer. “Divine providence?” he jokes.

In addition to striking out opposing hitters, Bob heroically battled multiple myeloma and, with the cancer now in remission, spends much of his time teaching sports marketing to university and grad-school students. He pens a baseball column at and is a frequent and witty commenter on Ken Davidoff’s Newsday blog.

We wish him only the best in the years to come.

Right Field

Brief chronicles of our sporting times.