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Melvin and Matzah: Giants Manager Recalls Childhood Passover
gvw_david_taub
By David Taub, Senior Reporter
Published 1 month ago on
April 22, 2024

San Francisco Giants manager Bob Melvin recalls matzah and Passover as part of his upbringing. (GV Wire Composite/Paul Marshall)

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Monday night, Jews around the world will celebrate Passover, the holiday commemorating the exodus from Egyptian slavery.

Players observing Passover in today’s era is not as dramatic as Sandy Koufax opting not to pitch in the 1965 World Series opener because it fell on Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar.

While families gather at the Seder table, baseball players may find it hard to take time out to drink the four cups of wine and ask the four questions. Nearly every game, except one, will be played at night on Monday and Tuesday — Passover traditionally has a two-night formal dinner.

San Francisco Giants manager Bob Melvin has been involved in professional baseball for more than 40 years. He recalled celebrating Passover in his youth.

“I have one side of my family (that is) Jewish. So back when I was a kid, you know, (Passover) was celebrated some,” Melvin said. “There was matzah involved and stuff like that.”

Jewish tradition means that leavened bread or anything with yeast — chametz as it is known in Hebrew — is forbidden for the next eight days. That means no bread, no fried chicken, no pasta.

Is Passover a Player Dilemma?

Passover falls on the 15th day of the month of Nisan on the lunar-based Jewish calendar. The holiday is later this year on the Gregorian calendar, and out of sync with Easter — after all, Jesus’s last meal was Passover dinner. Plus, this year has a “leap month” on the Jewish calendar.

Players observing Passover in today’s era is not as dramatic as Sandy Koufax opting not to pitch in the 1965 World Series opener because it fell on Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar.

In 1959, Koufax asked to skip his start on April 22 due to it being the first night of Passover. But that was 65 years ago. Melvin could not recall players taking special steps because of Passover during his time as a manager.

There are a handful of Jewish players in the majors, including Arizona Diamondbacks DH Joc Pederson — who is in both the Northern California and Southern California Jewish Sports Hall of Fame. Last year, he played for the Giants. Team officials said Pederson did not make any special Passover requests to the team chef.

Oakland Athletics infielder Zack Gelof will have Monday evening to celebrate if he so choses. The A’s game in New York against the Yankees would normally be played at night. But, the Yankees said they moved the time to 1 p.m. Eastern Time because of the Passover holiday. Gelof’s younger brother Jake is a Dodgers minor-leaguer.

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David Taub,
Senior Reporter
Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email

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