Israel Baseball introduces first Hall of Fame class
Leon Klarfeld, Sam and Tiva Pelter, Dan Rothem and David Schenker are the inaugural inductees
The Israel Association of Baseball inducted the inaugural class of the Israel Baseball Hall of Fame on Monday night at Kibbutz Gezer. Leon Klarfeld, Sam and Tiva Pelter, Dan Rothem and David Schenker are the worthy honorees for their contributions to the sport and its growth in the country.
The IAB Hall of Fame Committee, headed by IAB Vice President Nathan Pomerantz along with Haim, Katz, Lee Siegel and Mel Levi, oversaw the nomination and voting process. A total of 14 individuals were submitted for consideration on the final ballot. The other individuals on the ballot were Larry Baras, Ami Cohen, Eliyahu Jackson, Randy and Leonard Kahn, Ephraim Keren, Shlomo Lipetz, Tap Logue and Bruce Maddy-Weitzman.
Ballots were sent to a selection panel comprised of 32 veterans of Israeli baseball and the IAB, including the IAB Board of Directors. Members of the selection panel were allowed to vote for up to seven nominees. To be selected, a nominee needed to be named on a minimum of 60% of the ballots.
After Pomerantz spoke to open the proceedings, the inductees were presented by someone close to them. IAB President Dr. Jordy Alter spoke for David Schenker; former IAB President Haim Katz presented Leon Klarfeld; Dan Rothem was introduced by his brother, Assaf; and Sam and the late Tiva Pelter by IAB board member Lee Siegel.
David Schenker has been involved with Israeli baseball and the IAB for over three decades as a coach, umpire, National Director and member of the Board of Directors. He founded and coached the baseball program at Karnei Shomron and served as the coach for more than 10 national teams in different age groups. Schenker was appointed chief instructor for the IAB’s 2006-2007 coaching certification program at Kibbutz Seminary College. He has organized the baseball tournaments at the quadrennial Maccabiah Games. Today Schenker serves as the IAB’s co-Chief Umpire and regularly umps in the Premier League.
Leon Klarfeld began coaching baseball in Tel Aviv in the mid-1980s and went on to serve as the President of the IAB, the National Director, and – for nearly two decades – was the IAB Chief Umpire. He was also the Director of Israel Operations for the IBL’s lone season in 2007. During his eight years as IAB president, Klarfeld brought the CEB Annual General Meeting and concurrent meeting of the European Softball Association to Eilat in February 2000. In his capacity as Chief Umpire, Klarfeld organized annual umpiring clinics that trained many of the umpires in Israel today and he also officiated in major tournaments in Israel and abroad.
Dan Rothem has contributed and excelled as a player, coach, member of the IAB leadership, and as a broadcaster and popularizer of the sport to the Hebrew-speaking public. He was a member of Israel’s first-ever national team at the 1989 Little League World Series regional qualifying tournament. Rothem played college baseball in the United States and was a regular with the senior national team from 2004 through 2019. He was the player-coach of the Tel Aviv Comrades in the Premier League from 2005 through 2019. For the past nine years, he has been Sport 5’s go-to voice for Hebrew-language broadcasts of Major League Baseball and Israel national team games.
Sam Pelter has been involved in nearly all facets of IAB activity, from coaching and umpiring to governance and representing the IAB in the international baseball community. Together with his wife Tiva, he founded and coached the first baseball teams from Moshav Zofit with players from many surrounding moshavim joining. Sam served four terms as the IAB Secretary-General, was responsible for Israel’s admittance into the Confederation of European Baseball and was later voted to the CEB Board of Directors and eventually its Secretary-General, making him the highest-ranking Israeli official in European baseball.
Tiva Pelter (nee Burshtein) was a life-long sportswoman, a graduate of Wingate and the founder of the Hapoel Kfar Sava women’s volleyball club. After she and her husband Sam built the baseball program in Moshav Zofit, Tiva began coaching the younger teams, was appointed Regional Director of the Sharon and was the chief administrator for several junior national teams that competed abroad. She organized the baseball coach certification program at Wingate. Tiva, of blessed memory, was coaching a Zofit practice in February 2002 when she suffered the aneurism that resulted in her untimely death at the age of 63.
These individuals will be formally enshrined at the national baseball stadium in Beit Shemesh, which is currently under construction and slated to be completed in 2023.