During a Yeshiva University baseball game against Lehman College, Joel Feigenbaum (ICJA class of ’09) was playing shortstop. He started talking to a player on the other team, “He said he is Jewish, and he really had to commend us that he’s barely making it through secular college, while we juggle secular studies, Judaics and baseball. It boggled his mind.”
Turns out, Joel, who has played two seasons for the Maccabees, was doing more than just “getting by” in all of his college juggling—he has been excelling. On top of his 3.85 GPA and his commitment to Torah, Joel is a nationally-ranked pitcher this year.
Early in the season, Feigenbaum boasted top strikeouts per nine innings pitched average across all three NCAA divisions for four consecutive weeks. In his final game in the CUNY division this year, the right-handed pitcher struck out eight hitters over 4.2 innings pitched in a double header, ending the 2013 campaign with a school single-season-record 48 punch-outs over 31.1 innings. He finished the season 5th in the country for Division III and 7th across all divisions. Those stats were in spite of an injury that kept him from pitching several games.
Feigenbaum began playing baseball, along with several other sports, as a kid. It wasn’t until he played for the ICJA Aces his junior year, that he developed a true love for baseball. The Aces coach that year—the first year that ICJA had a boys’ baseball team—was JP Newman. “Coach Newman made me realize a drive in baseball, and in pitching specifically. He made me realize pitching is a pride thing. You’re standing on the mound battling with batter, and you don’t want to lose. Before that, I always thought baseball slow and not so serious.”
Feigenbaum’s decision to go to YU for college came after spending a year-and-a-half at Torat Shraga, when he switched his college of choice from University of Illinois to YU. “My Israel experience changed me. I got my priorities in order and realized what is important in life. YU is the best situation where I can guarantee I’m in the best environment to maintain my level of religiosity.”
Once he got to Yeshiva University, Feigenbaum honed his pitching skills with Coach Albert Baez and found that despite the extra time it took to play collegiate baseball, the sport rounded out his college day. Feigenbaum starts his day at 8AM with learning until 3PM. Then, classes can last until 8PM. “After that, I’m so exhausted, but then I go out on baseball field and run around with my friends. By the time practice is over at 10PM, I am so energized.”
He continues, “A lot of people don’t play a sport in college because they don’t have time in school. I realize that it’s exactly the opposite. Playing on a team gave me so many close-knit friendships of all grades, which really helped me adjust to college, and it served as a relief.”
Feigenbaum has one more season to play baseball for YU before he completes his degree as an English major, with a minor in business. After that he plans to go to law school.