IAB Chief umpire Leon Klarfeld is nothing short of a legend in Israeli baseball. Aside from his regular duties as umpire #1 in Israel, organizing his team of umpires for the leagues and coaching at the American International School; once a year he spends many long hours dedicated to training Israel baseball's newest crop of umpires.
Now Leon is counting down to the 2014 IAB Umpire course that he will be running in January, and he wants YOU to join.
Who is this man?
Leon describes himself as having 1 wife, 4 kids, 7 grandchildren and thousands of ball players.
He made Aliya from New York in 1969. Some years later, he stumbled on baseball. "One day, my wife told me that there was some nut in the Sportek in Tel Aviv teaching baseball and I should take our kids," Leon recalls. "So I dug up my old Little League glove, which was a lot smaller than I remembered it, and took them to the field. I was hooked and graduated from helpful parent to president of the IAB for eight years and now to chief umpire."
Leon has coached our national teams – in Germany for the Little League tournament in the early 1990s and the senior national team; he's represented Israel as an umpire in various CEB championship tournaments; and was twice chosen to umpire in the finals.
Nurturing new generations of umpires
Leon has been running the IAB Umpire Course for 11 years. It's a beginning level course to give the uninitiated basic techniques and information so they can umpire in the local leagues. The course teaches the basics of rules and mechanics and safety, includes classroom and outdoor field work and concludes with a game experience for the students.
One of the main goals of the course is to ensure that there is a pool of umpires for all our Friday afternoon games. "One problem," notes Leon, "is that we get umpire students doing triple duty - playing, coaching and umpiring - so they're not available for umpiring Friday league games. That's why we need to also get parents and others involved who are free to umpire games."
The IAB 2014 Umpire Course
The IAB 2014 Umpire Course begins on January 6, at 19:30-22:00 at the Baptist Village, and includes five sessions and a written exam. Participants need to be at least 15 years old, turning 16 during 2014. A basic knowledge of baseball is required and participants should be able to read English.
If you want to join Leon for the course and learn a whole lot more about baseball and about being an umpire, contact him directly at and become a member of his elite team of umpires.