Jews Beyond the Bench: Chaim Bloom

Dec 21, 2021 | Jews in Sports

One of the biggest Jewish names in professional sports, Chaim Bloom, is not an athlete. However, being named Chief Baseball Officer by the Boston Red Sox in 2019, Chaim Bloom is arguably the most influential and powerful Orthodox Jew in the sports industry.

A Philadelphia native, Bloom attended Akiba Hebrew Academy, now known as Barrack Hebrew Academy, and graduated in 2000. He then went on to study Latin at Yale, where he met his wife Aliza. They have two sons, Isaiah and Judah. Bloom has been very vocal about his dedication to religion and the struggle that occasionally ensues because of it. When Bloom worked for the Tampa Bay Rays, he and his family specifically lived near Tropicana Field so that he could be home in time for Shabbat on Friday night. He is known to keep Kosher, and when he worked for the Tampa Bay Rays, he even had a jar of gefilte fish sitting in his office; one he vowed he would eat once he won a World Series.

In 2011, the Tampa Bay Rays, the team Bloom worked for at the time, was set to play their playoff clinching game against the Yankees in Tampa. The game was set to be on Rosh Hashanah, and Bloom chose not to attend, opting to spend the holiday with his family. “Leaving town that morning to go to Boston to spend Rosh Hashanah with my in-laws was one of the more difficult things we’d done in my career.” he recalled to the Tablet. Bloom continued explaining saying, “Basically, I decided that my commitments to my family were more important than being around for a game whose outcome I was at that point not going to be able to influence.”

The name Chaim, one that is hard for the secular world to pronounce, is one of the reasons his religion is so obvious to others. When asked if he cares that most people mispronounce his name, Bloom responded to the Tablet saying, “In this game, if the worst thing you’re being called is some mispronounced version of your actual name, you’re doing pretty well.”

In 2005, Bloom was an intern for the Tampa Bay Rays, which kicked off his career in baseball. In October of that year, he was hired to work full time for the Rays in Minor League Operations. A few years later, in 2008, he was given the title of Assistant Director of Minor League Operations. Bloom continued to work his way up in the organization, becoming the Director of Baseball Operations in 2011 and Vice President of Baseball Operations in 2014. He was promoted to Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations in 2016.

Bloom’s work in Tampa was impressive, as he was working with one of the lowest payrolls amongst MLB teams, and yet, despite the financial limitations, was able to put together strong teams. He had to get creative, thinking and expanding past the basics of the game. Bloom helped implement new strategies based on analytics and stats to help the Rays increase their chance of success. One example of his out of the box thinking was the idea to open games with their relief pitchers, rather than to close with them. This tactic turned out to be wildly successful, and other teams began to use it too. It was Bloom and his staff that had the courage to attempt the unconventional.

In 2019, Bloom was hired by the Boston Red Sox as their new Chief Baseball Officer. In his two seasons with the Sox, Bloom has executed 171 transactions. It’s clear that Bloom has a plan to help make the Sox a competitive team in the long run. So far, Bloom has opted to sign players to shorter and cheaper deals, in order to see if they are a good fit for the team before deciding to sign them to bigger, longer-term deals. He has yet to really take advantage of the team’s large payroll.

Even though Bloom has been slower to act in some cases, the changes he has made, like signing Kiké Hernández, Kyle Schwarber, and José Iglesias have been greatly beneficial. Bloom has opted for cheaper players, utilized them in the best way, and has already begun to turn the team around. In 2020, Bloom’s first season with the Red Sox, which was shortened due to COVID-19, they posted a record of 24-36 (.400) and placed last in the American League East. In 2021, the Red Sox had a winning season, posting a 92-71 (.568) record and were second in the AL East. They made the playoffs and won two rounds, eventually losing to the Houston Astros in the American League Championship Series. The drastically different outcome of the last two seasons show the positive impact Bloom is already having in Boston.

Only 36-years-old, Bloom has already proven himself in Major League Baseball. Although he isn’t on the field, Bloom serves as an inspiration to others who hope to work in the world of sports. Bloom has said “the idea that your Judaism is an impediment to your career is something that I have not experienced at all.” Chaim Bloom leads as a great Jewish role model in the sports industry. He told Tablet, “One of the things that I’ve learned over time, which I think ties into my upbringing and the Jewish values I was brought up with, is that whatever you do, whatever passion you follow, whatever line of work you’re in, there are opportunities every day to bring your values positively to people.”

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