Thursday, July 24, 2008

Israel Baseball League's "interim president" now "in-coming president"; instead of season, vets to "put on a show"; Jewish National Fund in cahoots

The Israel Baseball League has made new promises and changes on its website.

David Solomont, who has been referred to as "interim" president, is now the "in-coming president," replacing former player Dan Rootenberg, who backed away from the job earlier this month. The "in-coming" qualifier apparently gives Solomont the option to do the same.

Solomont, also known as El Presidente Solomonte of the Dominican Republic of The Middle East Baseball League because of his promise that Israel would become the Dominican Republic of The Middle East, also figures prominently in a new press release that confirms that the IBL's second season that had been replaced by a four-team, 20-game, three-week, momentum-keeping mini-season will now be replaced by a week-long baseball festival starting on August 14th that will pit an IBL All-Star team against a team made up of premier Israeli players."

The IBL veterans who have confirmed they will play ball were listed by the IBL in this order:

Leon Feingold
Willis Bumphus

Jason Benson

David Kramer

Mike Lyons

Ray Rodriguez

Jason Bonder

Two more and they'll have a team.

Says Solomont: "Our players are going over to put on a show."

The IBL release also says the league is working with the Jewish National Fund, a fundraising group dedicated to bringing trees and water to Israel. Maybe they can bring the ice this time.

Here's the press release:

IBL Summer Baseball Festival to Commence Thursday, August 14th
07/24/2008 9:44 AM

The Israel Baseball League, which inaugurated the first season of professional baseball in Israel last summer, has officially announced its plans for this summer season, a week-long baseball festival starting on August 14th that will pit an IBL All-Star team against a team made up of premier Israeli players.

The baseball festival, which will go from August 14th through August 21st, will take place at the Yarkon Sports Complex at the Baptist Village. The Baptist Village field, Israel’s state-of-the-art baseball and softball facility, is located in Petach Tikva, about seven miles outside of Tel Aviv.

Games will start at 7 p.m. and are scheduled to be played on Thursday night, August 14th, and then each night from Sunday August 17th through Thursday night, August 21st.

“Our players are going over to put on a show. They are going over to run clinics in various communities. They are going to visit hospitals and hand out gifts. And most of all, they are going over to play some baseball,” said David Solomont, who has stepped into the role of president of the IBL. The festival will feature nightly games at the Baptist Village, with other baseball-related activities taking place before the games and in between innings. Like last year, IBL merchandise and memorabilia will be sold at the games and there will be a full food concessions service featuring a menu of barbecue offerings.

“We are very excited about this festival”, said Martin Berger, one of the IBL’s top executives. “First and foremost, we are going to once again offer a high caliber of play, with most of the players being among the best IBL alumni from last season. But we have purposely put together this season in the form of a festival, with an international vs. Israel component, in consideration of the Olympic Games that will be going on in Beijing simultaneously to our tournament. It adds to the connection between what is going on sports-wise in Israel with what is going on internationally.”

The IBL, together with the Jewish National Fund, is engaged in a far-reaching campaign called “Project Baseball” to build more community baseball fields in Israel and foster a grassroots initiative to support amateur participation and interest in baseball and softball. Baseball has long been the favorite sport of the Jewish population in America.

The IBL believes that not only can baseball become the first professional sport in Israel with a cross-section of fans, irrespective of gender or denomination, but that baseball and softball, sports played by men and women alike, offer a new common ground for people to meet and compete in a wholesome environment.

While final rosters are still being formally assembled, among the IBL players who have already committed to returning for this summer’s activities are Leon Feingold, Willis Bumphus, Jason Benson, David Kramer, Mike Lyons, Ray Rodriguez, and Jason Bonder. For the Israelis, former Seattle Mariners pitcher Ari Kafka, who now studies in Jerusalem, has informed the IBL that he is ready to pitch for Israel.

Final roster spots will be determined and announced in the coming days.

The full schedule of events will be announced on the IBL web site shortly.

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