Baseball Hall of Fame President to speak at Jewish Federation’s 28th Annual Meeting
Baseball Hall of Fame President Josh Rawitch knows just how lucky he is, and he appreciates every moment of it. Rawitch, who is the keynote speaker via Zoom for the Jewish Federation of the Greater San Gabriel and Pomona Valley’s 28th Annual Meeting on Sunday, January 8, says that it “boggles my mind when I think about what I get to do. The phone rings, and it’s Sandy Koufax. He’s very humble, but I can’t help thinking about all he’s done for baseball and the Jewish community.”
A native of Los Angeles, Rawitch grew up in the San Fernando Valley with Gabe Kapler, currently the manager of the San Francisco Giants, and later met Shawn Green, the legendary Dodger slugger who refused to play on Yom Kippur, just as Koufax had done many years before. Rawitch has enjoyed talking to Max Fried of the Atlanta Braves, who donated his World Series cleats to the Hall of Fame.
Rawitch, who was named President of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in 2021, has gravitated toward these Jewish ballplayers, because there is “a sense of understanding and an immediate connection.” He appreciates the cultural and family history aspects of Judaism and wonders out loud what his ancestors would think of what he gets to do on a daily basis.
A bilingual Spanish-speaker, Rawitch also enjoys bonding with Latin players and seeing the international scope of baseball flourish. He welcomed his first class of Hall of Famers—Jim Kaat, David Ortiz and Tony Oliva – in 2022 and looks forward to getting to know every living Hall of Fame player.
“I grew up playing baseball, but this is far beyond anything I could have imagined,” said Rawitch, who spent more than a quarter century working in baseball before assuming his present role. Rawitch attended Indiana University, where he received a bachelor’s degree in sports marketing and management with a minor in business. After his freshman year, a professor suggested that he apply for an internship with the Los Angeles Dodgers, his hometown team. After spending summers working for the team, he got a full-time job when he graduated from college. He spent 15 years with the Dodgers in marketing, public relations and communications. In 2011 he joined the Arizona Diamondbacks, serving as the team’s senior vice president of content and communications for his final six years in Phoenix.
In 2018, Rawitch received the prestigious Robert O. Fishel Award for Public Relations Excellence, given annually to an industry executive who excels in promoting the game. He has overseen baseball media relations efforts across the world, including in Mexico, China, Taiwan, Australia, Japan, New Zealand and the Dominican Republic, and has also served as a venue press chief at three iterations of the World Baseball Classic, most recently in South Korea. Over an eight-year period through 2019, Rawitch helped organize fundraising auctions during Major League Baseball’s Winter Meetings that have raised more than $1.6 million for various charitable causes.
Today Rawitch oversees the daily operation of the Baseball Hall of Fame, a non-profit, educational institution, whose mission is to preserve history, honor excellence and connect generations. The organization first opened in 1939 and now employs nearly 100 full-time staff members, welcoming an average of 300,000 visitors annually and more than 17 million visitors since opening. The Museum’s collections contain more than 40,000 three-dimensional artifacts and 200,000 baseball cards. The Library catalogs and preserves nearly three million documents including 250,000 historic images and 14,000 hours of original audio and video recordings.
Rawitch said that his favorite part of his job is “getting to do something that people will remember for the rest of their lives. It may just be a part of my day, but it could be something people really treasure when they visit the Hall of Fame. For instance, a gentleman in his 80s came from Indiana. The staff at his senior home paid for it, and it was an incredibly rare moment of fulfillment for him – and for me.”
Rawitch summarized, “The Hall of Fame represents the bonding of generations and people from all over the world. I love being part of this.”
Ilene Schneider is a contributing writer to JLife Magazine.