Monday, November 26, 2007


Israel baseball fans, rejoice! Despite the scandals and lawsuits, complaints and debts, resignations and rebellion, the Israel Baseball League claims to be ready for 2008 with a full schedule and a new team!

Three months of radio silence on the IBL website was broken with a bang with two explosive stories: The announcement of a schedule for a second season in 2008, and the arrival of professional baseball in Jerusalem. The Petach Tikva franchise is moving and will be renamed the Jerusalem Lions.

Embattled IBL founder Larry Baras is not quoted in either story. But president Martin Berger leads the way. No comment yet from the rebels who announced the formation of the rival Israel Professional Baseball League, though the heralding of Jerusalem as a city with "hundreds of thousands of American tourists, American ex-patriates, visiting American youth groups, and American students on extended stays" does not bode well for native Israelis who claimed they were ignored by the IBl the first time around.

Our Man Elli in Israel will have an update on the historic news. Meanwhile, here are the stories from the IBL website:

2008 IBL Schedule Announced
With great excitement and anticipation, the Israel Baseball League today unveiled its 2008 baseball schedule. This will be the second full season for the IBL. Features include each of the six teams playing a 40-game schedule, culminating in a Championship Series at the end of August.

Opening Day has been set for Sunday, June 22nd, with two exciting games taking place. At Gezer Field, the IBL Champion Bet Shemesh Blue Sox will be playing host to its arch rival, the Modi’in Miracle. And at the Baptist Village, a future rivalry will be born when the Tel Aviv Lightning takes on the new Jerusalem Lions. Both games are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m.

“This is a well-balanced schedule, with teams having more off-days than last year in order to recharge their batteries in a very challenging hot climate,” said league president Martin I. Berger in announcing the schedule. “There will, however, be a baseball game played every night at both the Baptist Village and Gezer Field, the two baseball venues in which the IBL will play next season,” Berger continued. “Right now, we are assuming that our regular season night games will begin at 7 p.m. at both venues, as we are working with the Jewish National Fund to upgrade the field in Gezer with renovations that will include improved lighting for night games.” As was the case last year, no games will be played on Friday nights and Saturdays.

Tickets for next season’s games are due to go on sale in December. For information, contact

IBL Adds Jerusalem Franchise
for 2008 Season
Last year, we had uniforms and batting cages. We went through thousands of balls and had to quickly order an extra 50 bats as the wear and tear depleted the existing stock. “Baseball” music in both Hebrew and English resounded through all of the games. We even had resin bags brought in through customs. All of the trappings were there, in other words, but one giant omission was obvious to many fans. There was no Jerusalem team.

This is about to change for the 2008 season, as the IBL announced that it is moving the Petach Tikva franchise to Jerusalem for the coming year. The team, to be known as the Jerusalem Lions, will play its maiden season in Gezer Field, about a 25 minute drive from the center of Jerusalem. By the 2010 season, the league expects the team to have a home field in Jerusalem itself.

Jerusalem, with its hundreds of thousands of American tourists, American ex-patriates, visiting American youth groups, and American students on extended stays, has long been a hotbed of baseball activity in Israel. Over 300 participants play in local softball leagues during the summer and hundreds of players in Israel’s youth leagues hail from Israel’s capital.

“Our problem was finding a site in Jerusalem that could accommodate pro baseball requirements,” said Ami Baran, the IBL’s Director of Israeli Operations. “However, we have been working under the leadership of the Jerusalem Foundation in getting a particular parcel designated as a baseball field and it is clear that enough progress has been made on that score for us to start planning for baseball in Jerusalem,” Baran continued.

The Jerusalem Foundation, a non-profit organization founded by former mayor Teddy Kollek, raises money for cultural and recreational projects in Jerusalem. It has made the creation of a multi-purpose outdoor athletic field a priority and has already received significant financial commitments for the development of the site. In a recent meeting between representatives of the IBL and the Foundation, plans were solidified for the baseball community of Jerusalem to have a portion of the field dedicated for baseball use.

“Meanwhile,” Baran said, “the Jerusalem team will play its home games at Gezer Field. We will make arrangements for charter bus service to take interested fans to and from the games. It is only a 25-minute drive from Jerusalem to Gezer, so it makes sense for us to get the team started now,” he said. The Petach Tikva Pioneers will be moved to Jerusalem. However, baseball fans in Petach Tikva will actually experience a net gain, as the IBL plans to have three teams call the Baptist Village home field – the Netanya Tigers, the Ra’anana Express, and the Tel Aviv Lightning. The Baptist Village is located right on the border of Petach Tikva.

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