Jewish Yankee Harrison Bader talks baseball over matzah and pastrami ball soup at Liebman’s Deli

Harrison Bader and Marcus Samuelsson selfie

(New York Jewish Week) — What better way to recover from an injury than a little Jewish penicillin?

Jewish New York Yankees outfielder Harrison Bader, who misses the start of the 2023 MLB season due to an oblique muscle injury, starred in a recent episode of ‘Home Plate: New York,’ an animated show by celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson. In each episode of the show, available on the YES Network mobile app, Samuelsson and a New York sports star visit an iconic New York restaurant to chat about food, heritage and, of course, sports.

In the most recent episode of the series, Bader and Samuelsson visit Liebman’s Deli – a kosher place that is the last Jewish grocery store in the Bronx – which is a short drive from where Bader grew up in Bronxville. Bader attended Horace Mann School in the heavily Jewish neighborhood of Riverdale.

“For Passover, I wanted to thank Liebman’s Kosher Delicatessen, an absolute classic Jewish deli here in the Bronx,” Samuelsson wrote on Facebook.

At Liebman, Bader and Samuelsson met owner Yuval Dekel, who ran the popular Bronx deli for 20 years after taking over from his father, who ran the restaurant himself for 20 years.

Dekel walked them through the process of making his deli-loved pastrami — even letting Bader apply the spice mix to the pre-brined brisket. Bader, who called himself “a mustard guy,” said he grew up eating a lot of pastrami.

Once the breasts were ready to go in the oven, Bader and Samuelsson enjoyed a soup of matzah balls, before sitting down to a full meal of pastrami sandwiches, stuffed cabbage, pickles and other delicacies. classic Jews.

Bader, 28, played the first five and a half seasons of his career at St. Louis before being traded to the Yankees last season. Bader’s father, who is Jewish, told the Forward that his son is considering officially converting to Judaism (Bader would not be considered a Jew of matrilineal descent, meaning that only a child born to a Jewish mother or a person who officially converts to Judaism is Jewish.)

Bader originally planned to play for Team Israel in the 2023 World Baseball Classic held in March, but eventually dropped out due to his injuries. He said he would “absolutely consider” playing for the team in the future. (Bader’s Jewish teammate Scott Effross, whom the Yankees acquired a day before Bader, also missed the WBC through injury.)

Bader and Samuelsson dined on Jewish deli classics while they talked baseball. (EH Wallop/Network YES)

Over his meal with Samuelsson, Bader talked about growing up in New York and playing baseball — and he thanked his parents for helping launch his career. “Obviously my dad was my first coach,” Bader said. “Without my dad kicking me every day, since I was 5, I wouldn’t be anywhere.”

Bader said his father likes to visit all the stadiums he plays in and often travels to see Bader’s games when he plays at a new stadium for the first time.

He said his mother’s cooking also played a key role in his success.

After joining the Yankees last year, Bader lived at home with his parents during the playoffs, during which Bader enjoyed breakout performance. “I was just in my little bubble — my mom makes me breakfast, has coffee with my dad in the morning, and then we go play ball at Yankee Stadium,” Bader recalled. “It’s so cool. It was so much fun for all of us.

Maybe his playoff success wasn’t a coincidence? “Something in my mother’s eggs, I don’t know,” he said.

For more coverage of Jewish sports, see the Jewish Telegraphic Agency’s Jewish Sport Report newsletter.

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