Baseball is not politics, so what better way is there to bring together two sides of a divide than through a sport where the greatest conflict is over a bad call by an umpire.

On March 5 and 6 at the Baptist Village in Petah Tikvah, the IAB in partnership with the Play Global non-profit organization fulfilled a dream as the two organizations launched Baseball for All (Baseball Le’Kulam), the first ever program to teach Jewish and Arab Israeli children to play baseball. The kids, 28 sixth graders from Modiin and Ramle, were all as new to the sport as most of them were new to each other. So slowly, as they learned about baseball they also learned about one another. Once they had started learning the basics of the sport, and saw the need to work together as a team, concerns about each other quickly disappeared. Instead, they put their hearts and souls into baseball – into hitting the ball, catching it, and making sure that the right person on the team received the ball no matter where they came from.

“This was a really great way to take a completely a-political setting – baseball – and use it to help break many stereotypes and preconceived ideas,” said Nate Fish, IAB National Director, who conceived of the idea along with Tom Gillespie, head of the nonprofit organization Play Global, who traveled to Israel from Germany to launch this pilot program. Play Global is based in the U.S. and works internationally, running programs in developing countries and conflict areas, with the goal of helping kids learn skills for success, respect and teamwork through baseball. “This program gave these kids an opportunity to build an understanding of each other while also learning baseball and having a great time,” added Play Global’s Tom Gilllespie.

“This is the first time that the IAB has run a program specifically aimed at bringing Arab and Jewish kids together,” Nate commented. “We gathered a great group of people including baseball coaches from Play Global and the IAB, and educators from the Jewish Israeli and Arab Israeli communities to teach the kids baseball, and to encourage them to form lasting friendships."

Amal Abu-Sif is an educator who works with both Arab and Jewish students, and was one of the initiators of the program. “The most important thing in Baseball for All is to know the ‘other’ as not your enemy but rather as a human being like you and to know how much we are all the same,” she said. “This is what this program is all about and why we launched it.”

For the kids, it was mainly about having fun, learning a new sport and meeting new friends. Adam, 12, from Ramle, and Sagi, 12, from Modiin, ended the program by making plans and becoming Facebook friends: “He’s my best friend,” said Adam with a very broad smile and an arm around Sagi’s shoulders. Both are also committed to continue playing baseball.

Some of the kids were able to understand the process in greater depth. Lian, 12, from Ramle said that she loved learning how to play baseball, but that she also “learned not to judge anyone by how they look and rather to live together in co-existence and have fun together.”

Baseball for All will continue in June and in October.   

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PL 2015Spring training for the 2015 Premier League baseball season begins Tuesday, February 17, at the Baptist Village in Petah Tikvah, from 19:00-21:00. Four teams will compete for the Premier League championship this year. The Tel Aviv Comrades, last year's champs, led by Dan Rothem, Israel National Team member and Premier League stalwart, will look to repeat. The Modiin Miracles will be coached by Ira Moskowitz, Modiin Regional Director for the Israel Association of Baseball, in his 6th season with the Miracles. The Ra’anana Raiders' pitching staff and line-up will be anchored by national team and Premier League veteran, and Junior National Team coach Orr Gottlieb. And the Jerusalem Lions will have Nate Fish, National Director of the IAB, at their head, in his second year in the league.

"We are excited about the 2015 PL season,” says League commissioner Jordy Alter of Bet Shemesh. “We've made a lot of improvements like adding official scorers so we have reliable stats, and individual awards at the end of the year. And we’re looking forward to adding new players to round out the team rosters and raise the overall level of play."

Spring training will take place each Tuesday and Thursday between February 17 and March 17. Opening night for the league will be Tuesday night March 17, in a game between Tel Aviv and Ra’anana. And the three-game championship series is scheduled to begin June 14 and conclude June 18.

For more information, email Nate Fish - .

dean kremer 2Dean Kremer was one of the stars of last year’s Senior National Team (SNT) that won the C Pool at the European Championships in Slovenia in August. While he currently pitches for Delta College in California and will be their number 1 starter this spring, he was recently awarded a scholarship to the University of Nevada Las Vegas, for next year and could become the first Israeli baseball player to be selected in the 2015 Major League amateur draft in June. Dean spoke to us about his experiences.

Where did you grow up? 
I was born and raised in Stockton, California and that’s where I call home. Sometimes I do wish that I was raised in Israel, but then I realize that baseball isn’t the same over there as it is in the US yet.

When did you start playing baseball?
I started playing baseball when I was about 4 or 5 and have been playing ever since. Luckily I always had another sport like soccer to offset the baseball so I wouldn’t get burnt out at a young age.

When did you realize this was the sport for you?
Actually I didn’t realize that baseball was going to be it until junior year of high school.

What were the highlights of your years as a Little League player?
To be honest throughout Little League I was never the best player on the team so I didn’t have any major highlights. I really didn’t start playing well until junior and senior year of high school and even then I was nowhere near where I am now.

How has being a member of the SNT impacted you?
Playing baseball in the US is great but playing for Israel National team is way more special. Not many people in the world can say they have played for the SNT. Being able to play baseball and speak in Hebrew at the same time is very special to me because I have never been able to do that, plus international baseball is way more significant because every game means so much more. Every game affects the world rankings and just thinking about that makes me want to play and get better.

dean kremer 1What were some of the most memorable experiences you had as a member of the SNT?
I have only played with the SNT this past summer, but that was definitely an experience of a lifetime. The whole trip was great and I loved every minute of it. Getting the honor of pitching the semi-finals, to advance us to the B-pool and getting the pitcher of the tournament were my favorite memories.

How do you plan to maintain your connection with Israel baseball?
I would love to keep playing for the SNT and come back every summer to help run the summer camps for as long as I can.

What is your favorite part of being in Israel?
All of my family lives in Israel so I do get to see them and I like being with all the guys that I met through baseball.

Tell us a bit about your college baseball experience.
College baseball is great, but it’s a lot of work. We log dozens of hours on the field and in the weight room during the fall to prepare for the season and when spring rolls around it’s go time! Right now I am at a 2-year junior college and this will be my first year playing because I red-shirted last year to get bigger and stronger. But I will be transferring to University of Nevada Las Vegas next year on a baseball scholarship and I am very excited about that.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?
In 5 years I hope to still be playing baseball professionally either in Minor leagues or maybe even get to the Major League.

What do you do when you’re not playing baseball (or studying)?
Being a college athlete, there isn’t much time where I’m not doing either one of those activities, but when I’m not doing those I am usually hanging out with teammates.

What is your advice to any Israel baseball player who would like to follow in your footsteps?
I would tell them exactly what my coaches have always told me, work hard at everything that you do and trust the process.





Hanukkah playpicThis year’s IAB Hanukkah events were a great success.
The regional one-day Hanukkah tournament, held throughout Israel on Friday December 19, was enjoyed by all the players and spectators. There were 29 teams playing at 8 different venues on 10 fields around the country – seven Minors teams played on three fields in Hashmonaim and Modiin; 12 Juveniles teams played in the Tiva Pelter Tournament in the Baptist Village in Petah Tikvah, Ra’anana, Tel Mond and Tzofit; and eight Cadets teams played in Ra’anana, Tel Aviv and Gezer. The minors, playing in the Eliyahu Jackson Tournament, did not play a competitive tournament. Results for each venue of the Juveniles and Cadets tournament are as follows:
Juveniles: Raanana - winner: Raanana; Tel Mond - winner: Lev Hasharon Nationals; Zofit - winner: Hashmonaim; Baptist Village - winner: Yad Benyamin.
Cadets: Tel Aviv - winner: Rehovot; Raanana - winner: Ginot Shomron Hawks; Gezer - winner: Beit Shemesh.
Congratulations to the winners and participants.

The second annual All Stars day beat the weather and was held on Sunday December 21 at the Baptist Village in Petah Tikvah. The day began with a skills competition for Minors, Juveniles and Cadets. An excellent turnout meant that the players had a fun competition, with lots of competitors taking their turns at five stations – batting, pitching, base running, infield and fly balls. There were winners in each age group for each of the stations, and overall winners for each age group. Participants and their families then enjoyed a BBQ.
A memorial ceremony was held for Howie Osterer z”l, with a speech from IAB President Peter Kurtz and a presentation by Chief Umpire Leon Klarfeld to Howie’s daughter Nina, of Howie’s umpire shirt in frame, showing his umpire number, 55, which will be retired from use. Next, Juniors League Commissioner Aryeh Klein lit the Hanukkah candle.
Nina threw out the first pitch for the first ever Juniors All Star game. The two teams – North and South – played in a very closely contested game. Ultimately, in a very close finish, the South edged out the North 8-7.
A big thanks to all the organizers, the Juniors All Star players who ran the Skills Competition stations, the volunteer helpers, coaches, umpires and all the participants and their families for making this a very special day.

For more on these events, click here for the video.

The Israel Association of Baseball launched its first Israel Baseball Academy in November. Eleven elite baseball players between 15 and 19 years old from all over Israel were selected to participate in the year-long intensive program, which is recognized by the MLB. This will enable the participants to gain access to Major League Baseball’s high-level programs for top European baseball players. The academy is headed by Israel Baseball national director Nate Fish and assisted by David Schenker, national team coach, and Dan Rothem, former college pitcher and longtime Israel national team player. For more on the academy, please see the video.

academy video








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