Did you know that Ralph Branca was Jewish? Until recently, neither did he

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This is only about baseball insofar as it involves a baseball player, but it’s a pretty interesting story anyway.

The New York Times’ Joshua Prager has a story about retired Dodgers’ pitcher Ralph Branca’s family. Seems that even though Branca was baptized and raised Catholic to Catholic parents and remains Catholic to this day, his mother was Jewish and, unbeknownst to Branca until very recently, most of his mother’s family remained in Europe after she emigrated and they were killed in the Holocaust.

It’s neat on the surface for the “hey, he didn’t know it” perspective, but I find it pretty interesting from the “what makes us who we are; how does one define one’s identity” point of view.  I come from a hodgepodge of a background with all manner of wackiness in the branches of my family tree, so it’s the kind of thing I think about often.

Does it matter where we came from?  I often think not, because absent a trust fund or a congenital disease, life is what me make it.  But the fact that we spend so much time thinking about it makes me think that there’s more to it than I typically care to admit.

Report: Reds sign Ben Revere

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The Reds have signed outfielder Ben Revere to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports. Revere is expected to take home a salary between $1 million and $1.5 million if he makes the major league roster, Heyman adds.

Revere, 29, spent last season with the Angels. He batted a light .275/.308/.344 in 308 plate appearances. Revere does have some speed as he stole 21 bases last year.

Revere will try to earn a spot on the roster as a backup outfielder. The Reds’ starting spots are spoken for with Adam Duvall, Billy Hamilton, and Scott Schebler.