Shawn Green has taken his place in the major leagues – of Jewish philanthropy. Last week the Mets right fielder announced he will donate $180 to UJA-Federation for every run he drives in.
This week UJA-Federation asked more people to step up to the plate. The philanthropy unveiled its RBI Initiative, encouraging people of various means to pledge amounts of their choosing to the annual campaign for every Green RBI.
“This will appeal to a wide range of people,” says Ricky Sandler, chair of the RBI Initiative and vice chair of UJA-Federation’s Wall Street Division. Green, 34, is among about 10 Jewish players on major league rosters this season. Traded to the Mets last year, he has often spoken about his desire to play in a city with a large Jewish population and to become active in Jewish activities. His donation reflects the Jewish custom of giving in variables of $18, the number whose Hebrew letter equivalent, chai, means life.
His pledge-per-RBI campaign is the first-known fund-raising effort geared to individual performance by a prominent Jewish athlete, Sandler says. “It says something – how people in positions like that should lead.”
He notes that Green, who has had four 100-RBI seasons, is off to one of his best starts in several years. Have forces beyond major league baseball taken note of Green’s commitment? “Maybe the Man upstairs did,” Sandler says.