Thursday, July 10, 2008

Miracle Met & Miracle manager Art Shamsky: "I will never say anything bad about the Israel Baseball League" (but I'm not coming back)

Art Shamsky, the 1969 Miracle Met who went on to become manager of the Modi'in Miracle in the first season of the Israel Baseball League, may still be listed on the IBL website of one of the league's managers, but he doesn't seem likely to return for the promised four-team, 20-game, three-week, momentum-keeping mini-season that looks more unlikely by the day.

Shamsky is interviewed by baseball writer and authorized Larry Baras-IBL biographer Ron Kaplan in the New Jersey Jewish News. He says he's writing a new book and "expects to be busy with speaking engagements."

Kaplan's article, while upbeat about the IBL, acknowledged the reality that was first reported here by Our Man Elli in Israel, an unflinching view that Kaplan had once complained was "a bit harsh": "From day one, the Israel Baseball League was beset by problems. Poor field conditions, missed payrolls, poor marketing strategies, and the mass resignation of several board members... just a few of the challenges that may mean the inaugural 2007 season was perhaps also the last."

But he adds, "Despite the difficulties, you won’t hear a negative word from Art Shamsky."

Says Shamsky by telephone: “I will never say anything bad about the IBL. They gave me an opportunity to be part of this great experience.

“I was reluctant to go at first because my initial thoughts were that (the IBL) wasn’t going to work (and) that Israel was a dangerous place. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized this was an opportunity to see this wonderful, beautiful country and to really help baseball get going there.”

From the article:

Sure, the conditions weren’t always the best, but it was baseball at its purest, reminding Shamsky of his days as a minor leaguer. “You never know who’s watching these games.” While major league scouts might not be flocking to Israel to watch them, “somebody knows somebody who knows somebody else,” he said.

Shamsky had particular praise for those IBL players — representing seven countries — who took the opportunity to tour the country on off days, visiting various cultural and religious sites. “We were playing in the holiest of places; I thought it was an incredible feeling to do that.”

Read the entire article here.

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