Thursday, March 13, 2008

Bergstrom is Israel baseball's boy of summer

They may not be playing baseball in Israel this summer, but one world-weary veteran of the Israel Baseball League will be playing in beautiful downtown Bridgeport.

Right-handed pitcher Rafael Bergstrom of the Bet Shemesh Blue Sox got out while the going was good, signing with the Bridgeport, Connecticut Bluefish after the IBL season ended in shambles last August. And now the Bluefish say they’ve made a deal for Bergstrom to pitch in 2008.

Bergstrom was the first player from the Israel Baseball League to sign a pro contract in the United States and joined the minor league Bluefish in time for their 2007 season. In six appearances (four starts), he struck out 18 batters in 29 innings while only walking six.

Bergstrom’s a true journeyman. After playing in college in San Diego, he played two seasons in Munich, Germany and another season in in Brisbane, Australia before winding up with the Bet Shemesh Blue Sox of the IBL. The 6’5, 225-pounder had a career season with the Blue Sox on their way to a league championship. In 56 and 2/3 innings, he whiffed 51 batters and posted a 2.44 ERA to accompany his 7-2 record. He finished off the regular season with a complete game shutout and eight strikeouts in the championship game.

The Bridgeport Bluefish Professional Baseball Club, a charter team in the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball, plays its home games at The Ballpark at Harbor Yard. They made world headlines when two of their players were injured when Jose Offerman of the visiting Long Island Ducks went nuts with a bat. Offerman got off with probation.

The Israel Baseball League made world headlines with its post season collapse and scandals following the exclusive exposé by Our Man Elli in Israel.

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