The Jewish Link of New Jersey and Teaneck Doghouse would like to recognize 18-year-old Yehudah Pinsker as this week’s Sportstar of the Week. Pinsker is a recent graduate of the Rav Teitz Mesivta Academy (JEC High School). Two of Pinsker’s most remarkable games occurred this past season as a pitcher for the RTMA baseball team. He tossed a shutout against DRS which gave JEC the 11-0 win. On another occasion, despite his car breaking down on the way to the game, Pinsker still managed to make the game vs Flatbush in the top of the third inning. He helped JEC pull out a 12-5 win which kept them in the playoff race. Pinsker was also a key member of the 2019 MYHSAL champion RTMA varsity softball team and the RTMA college bowl team.
Yehudah, mazel tov on your high school graduation. Who are your role models and why?
My role models are definitely my parents and my principals at JEC. They both have the ability to get involved with people, programs and organizations that have great potential and push them to their limits, turn something around and create something new and make something out of literally nothing, which is what I try to do when I’m playing, whether it be starting rallies or pushing my pitching further.
What is your favorite sport?
Definitely baseball. I fell in love with pitching in fifth grade when I started seriously following the Mets (ironic, I know.) For years I was throwing around with kids in camp like Coby Sorotzkin, who’s now a pitcher for MTA. We both developed our pitches off each other for a really long time. I think he ended up with the better slider and I got the better curve.
What is your greatest sports accomplishment?
Not necessarily a specific sports moment, but I’m very proud of my improvement over the years. I’ve been able to get into much better shape than I used to be in, my pitching velocity and break have only improved over time, and my fundamentals have greatly been improved by coaches and teammates. In my mind, it’s always only been up in terms of improvement.
Who is your favorite athlete and why?
My favorite athlete is probably Jacob DeGrom on the Mets. He plays with class and lets his pitching and performance speak for him. He’s a real respectable person but also one of the best pitchers in the game when he has his stuff. Close runner-up is my softball teammate Jackie Sutton. He’s really able to hype up and motivate our team and I give him a lot of credit for bringing a championship back to JEC, both for his on the field hustle (he’s known on our team as “The Flash”) and his great pep talks.
What is your pregame routine, if you have one?
Usually I’ll start doing regular stretching, then do a long toss with my catcher for a decent amount of time. It’s easier to throw that way if your arm is warmed up, throwing three times the distance you’ll have to in a game. Also lots of water. I try to keep myself relaxed and laid back for most of the game. This is usually achieved by cracking as many jokes as I can to my teammates in the shortest amount of time. It helps me not get into my own head too much and just pitch.
What is your earliest sport memory?
My earliest sports memory is probably losing in the championships in little league. At that point, there were two shomer Shabbos teams, and both had made it to the championships. It was really special. It ended up better for me in the end, because a year later, the two teams combined into one and we won the championships together.
What is the weirdest sports related thing that has happened?
I was supposed to be the starter for our game against Flatbush being played in Raritan, but it went different than expected. I was driving onto the entrance of the New Jersey Turnpike, and about a mile in, my car breaks down. I called Coach Gardner and Coach Manzon and told him I wasn’t going to be there for gametime. My mom ended up driving to me, and bailed me out. We switched cars and I went to the game, while she waited for towing (thanks again, Mom) to take it to my uncle’s shop to get fixed (thanks again, Tzvi). I got there three innings late, but pitched the last four innings and we ended up winning 12-5. Definitely stressful and good in the end, but definitely weird.
What is your favorite sports memory?
Definitely winning the softball championship in extra innings against Shaarei Torah the day after our graduation. JEC hadn’t won a major sports championship in over 30 years. My friends like Aharon and Moshe Heller, Jake Goldberg, our Director of Student Life Rabbi Rich and my coach, Kenny Mandel, have waited their entire lives and high school careers to get a championship banner for JEC, and we did it in our very last chance. We won 1-0 in the ninth inning of a seven inning game. It was the perfect ending to my high school career. It felt more like a win for our grade and our school than for just our team.
What is your favorite thing to do when you are not playing sports?
Music. Whether producing, writing or listening, it’s awesome. There’s nothing else like music and it takes up most of my time most days. I also do most of the graphic design for Yeshiva League Pass among other things. I just try to keep myself busy; boredom kills me.
What is the best thing about being a Sportstar?
Being able to represent everything and everyone around you in a positive light. I think of our wins more as team victories than personal ones, and to be able to spread our successes as a team and school this season, our first season back in the league in five years, is an opportunity I would never pass up on.
The Teaneck Doghouse Sportstar of the Week will receive a $15 gift at the Teaneck Doghouse. Please send nominees for an upcoming Jewish Link of New Jersey and Teaneck Doghouse Sportstar of the Week to [email protected].
By JLNJ Sports Desk