The Chicago White Sox have changed the start time for their Sept. 25 game against the Cleveland Indians from 7:10 to 1:10, citing courtesy for the team's Jewish fans who will observe Yom Kippur beginning at nightfall.
In doing so, the team has also saved third baseman Kevin Youkilis from having to make a tough decision on whether he would play on the religion's day of atonement.
As one of baseball's most prominent Jewish players, Youkilis has been posed the "Sandy Koufax question" many times, even as recently as last year. Yom Kippur fell on Oct. 7 in 2011 and there was a debate on what he'd do if the Boston Red Sox had a postseason game schedule for that day. The team's late season collapse put that issue to bed, but Youkilis told the Jewish Journal earlier in the season that there'd be plenty of people with strong feelings on each side. It wouldn't be an easy choice, he said.
"You have to stick with your beliefs," Youkilis said. "You can't worry about people who aren't influential in your life who say things or tell you you're wrong.
"I know Shawn Green had a tough time with it. It just depends upon the community. In Boston they probably don't even care. They'd want you to play."
Missing a late September game against a flagging Cleveland team is a bit different than sitting Game 1 of the 1965 World Series like Sandy Koufax did. But it's nice that Youkilis won't have to make a decision for a White Sox team that's playing for the AL Central title. He did sit out a game at least once during his Boston tenure, but stayed in the dugout in uniform instead of attending any services.
The White Sox-Indians are currently the only MLB game scheduled for the afternoon on Sept. 25, which means plenty of other Jewish players and fans will actually be faced with the choice. There is precedent for the movement of a game, however. Back in 2009, the Yankees and Red Sox moved a Sept. 27 game from evening to afternoon to accomodate the Jewish fans of both teams.
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