Marty Lurie Talks San Francisco Giants Baseball

The Long View: Israel Baseball League Begins

On the 8th of Tammuz (June 24 to you) in the year 5767 (or 2007, American) the first game of the Israel Baseball League was played.
Among other drama, the season has already seen a no-hitter that ended in… a home run derby.

That’s right, there have been a few notable changes to make America’s Pastime a going venture in the Middle East. Games are scheduled for seven innings, and ties are settled by a home run contest. (In addition, no games are played on Friday or Saturday, in observation of the Jewish Sabbath.) Click below for more!
For the record, it was Dominican Esequier Pie who threw the no-no for the Ra’anana Express. First baseman Scott Feller hit three homers in the second round for the win, although the game is still under protest by Modi’in Miracle manager Art Shamsky, who questioned the legality of Feller’s bat.

Got it?

If this all sounds about seven thousand miles from the pro baseball you’re used to, well, that’s because it is. But remember, outside of the U.S. and Japan, plus sparse few others, the world is none too familiar with baseball as we know it.

Representatives of Israel Baseball, to give you an idea, say they want to be one of the sixteen teams in the next World Baseball Classic, less than two years from now. The League’s Board of Advisors includes MLB Commissioner Bud Selig and New York Yankees President Randy Levine; the league itself was co-founded by former Boston Red Sox GM Dan Duquette, and its Commissioner is Daniel Kurtzer — a former U.S. Ambassador to Israel.

Although IBL players come from a number of countries, less than 10% of them are native Israelis. Even the targeted fan base is mostly tourists and American expatriates. But the League’s true mission is spelled out in plain language by its President, Marty Berger: "This is not an experiment. The next market for [MLB] is Europe. We envision this as becoming the top league in Europe."

American fans who write off the Israeli effort as hopelessly behind, would do well to remember: in Israeli 2007, Jesus wasn’t even born yet.


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