Friday, March 7, 2008

Israel's baseball tragic leads us to Irish magic

Don’t let the naysayers fool ya. Our coverage of the rise and fall—and, we hope, resurrection of baseball in Israel has led us to all kinds of interesting and friendly people and places. The latest is John Fitzgerald, baseball fan, baseball documentary director and baseball reality series producer who picked up our latest exclusive story on Israel baseball on his Playing for Peanuts blog and, unlike some people who will go unnamed (like Uncle Murray “Do You Mr.” Chass and That Putz Greenberg), actually credited the source of the story—us!

“I commend the league's complete stubbornness and reckless behavior in the face of a impending financial meltdown. It reminds me of me. Nice job and good luck, guys.”

And thanks, Johnny! Good on ya!

It turns out that Mr. Fitzgerald directed and wrote The Emerald Diamond, the acclaimed (“Terrific!” The NY Post; “Charming!” The NY Times) 2006 documentary about Irish baseball (now available in a deluxe DVD edition).

And the site isn’t called “Playing for Peanuts” because he’s worked for Larry Baras. Fitzgerald and crew are taping a reality TV series by that very name, following a season in the life of the South Georgia Peanuts minor league baseball team.

What a wonderful way to spend several months making television! It reminds of that season, too many years ago, we spent with Elli as he worked with the Utica Blue Sox Class A Penn League baseball team in the Leatherstocking region of New York State (sold in time for the 2002 season to Cal Ripken Jr., moved to Maryland and renamed the Aberdeen Ironbirds) and the team’s owner, Roger Kahn. Kahn would write the book, Good Enough To Dream (his sequel to The Boys of Summer. (Our editor would go on to write Tabloid Baby. Elli Wohlgelernter would make history with a report on the first season of the Israel Baseball League that was first seen here and reprinted as "The Oys of Summer.”).

Anyway, check out the Playing for Peanuts site. It’ll tell you where you can watch John Fitzgerald’s killer reality series. And The Emerald Diamond will be airing on St. Patrick’s Day on Sportsnet Chicago—the real St. Patrick’s Day, March 17th, not March 15th as the Catholic Church arbitrarily moved it this year (so it won’t confliuct with their “Holy Monday”, just like they banned Danny Boy from funerals (when will they learn?). It’s also airing on the America One Network, mostly in the South, so we’ll ask our pal Lewis to check up on that.

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