Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Ferrara first death of Israel Baseball League

Our Man Elli in Israel has resurfaced to bring us sad news: what appears to be the first death among the veterans of the Israel Baseball League. Team manager Tony Ferrara was 84.

"Tony took over for Ken Holtzman when he was fired from Petah Tikva Pioneers," Elli recalls. "Real, real nice guy, players loved him, low-key, and a baseball man through and through.

"Tony may not have been Jewish, but he was the epitome of a mensch."

Tony Ferrara played four seasons with St. Louis Cardinals affiliates before injury ended his dream, but went on to work as a batting practice pitcher, bullpen catcher and scout for Major League teams including the New York Yankees, New York Mets, Seattle Mariners, Chicago Cubs and Oakland A’s.

He also coached college and in the minors-- and acted in and was technical adviser on The Natural.

He was a longtime friend of Mickey Mantle and even wore Mantle's number 7 in his most recent job as bench coach for the Newark Bears.

There was an impromptu memorial service for Ferrara yesterday at the Babe Ruth bat at Yankee Stadium. One of The Mick's sons was there, along with Ron Darling, Art Shamsky, Ed Kranepool, Miracle Met and IBL manager Art Shamsky and legendary Yankee publicist and IBL official Marty Appel.

Click here to see our complete coverage of the ill-fated Israel baseball League on our Israel Baseball League archive site.

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