Jason Rees and Jeff Mor of the Beit Shemesh Blue Sox
Just over one month ago, this blog reported on media coverage of the new IBL baseball league forming in Israel. June 24, 2007 marked the league’s opning day.
Since making my Aliyah to live in Israel over 8 years ago this past March, whenever baseball fans/Torah scholars got together an talked a little baseball, that oft-used biblical pun, “In the big inning…” was always bandied about. The Israel Baseball League opener in the Yarkon Sports Complex in the city of Petach Tikva was indicative of that great old pun that we all chuckle about.
The game ended up as something of a laugher with Modi’in putting it to Petach Tikva by a 9-1 score as the Israeli announcers had no clue as to hebraicized baseball jargon.
I missed the league opener on Sunday, although early in the afternoon I had thoughts of busing it over to Petach Tikva’s Yarkon Field. But then a number of pressing matters plus intense Beit Shemesh heat prevailed and I ended up locked-on to the computer for the duration.
The game pitted Manager Art Shamsky and his Modi’in Miracle against the Petach Tikva Pioneers.
Hillel Fendel of Israel National News records how Modi’in turned a close game into something of a rout in the 3rd inning;
The game blew open in the third inning, when the Miracle from Modiin managed to turn only two hits - both singles - into no fewer than five runs. They were helped along by four walks and two sacrifice flies. Meanwhile, inning by inning, Petach Tikvah was going down quietly, making little trouble for Modiin pitchers Matt Bennett of Australia and Audy Alcantara of the Dominican Republic. The serenity of their “offense” was disturbed only by a solo home run by Ryan Crotin of Amherst, NY, among four other harmless hits. The game ended softly with a ground out by right-fielder Ben Dashefsky of New York.
But on Monday, with game tickets in hand, and with old tunes in mind like ”it’s a beautiful day for a ballgame, for a ballgame today…” and that old Phillies beer commercial, “Baseball and Balantine”, a group of us Ramat Beit Shemesh residents headed for “for the sticks”, for the proverbial “boondocks” known as Gezer to root for the Beit Shemesh Blue Sox in their inaugural game of the Israel Baseball League season against the Netanya Tigers.
It was Beit Shemesh’s favorite son, starting pitcher Jeff Mor facing Netanya’s Leon Finegold who brings some heavy heat by way of a 90+ mph fastball, not exactly on par with a healthy Joel Zumaya, but pretty rapid by Israeli standards.
We arrived at the Gezer field by way of winding, twisting roads and in time for the 2nd inning. We missed Mor striking out 2 of the first 3 hitters he faced in the 1st inning as the fans chanted “We want Mor[e].”
After Netanya broke through for a run in the second inning on rightfielder Brian Pinchuk’s RBI single in the second to lead 1-0, Bet Shemesh got the run back in the 4th on an RBI single by second baseman Jim Pierce. Rightfielder Jason Rees’ hit drove in the winning run in the fifth as the Blue Sox held off the Tigers in the 6th inning to emerge with the victory. The umpires called the game after six innings due to darkness, or rather poor lighting which the IBL will undoubtedly rectify once it resolves it’s sometimes quirky website.
League games are normally 7 innings, as opposed to American baseball which goes 9 innings and extra-innings in event of a tie. In the IBL, ties in regulation play would be broken by a homerun derby.
The closely-fought pitcher’s duel and tight defensive battle was only marred by a 4th inning hit batsman which went largely unreported in media coverage of the game. The Petach Tikva pitcher Leon Feingold lost control of a fastball which hit Beit Shemesh catcher Jake Ayers in the neck, just below the ear. As Ayers lay on the ground seemingly motionless for a few moments, it looked serious as he was surrounded by players from both teams and a stretcher was wheeled in. But then, Ayers was helped up and left the field under his own power with what seemed to be an ice-pack being applied to the affected area. He was then taken to the hospital for tests. League officials informed me by email that as of 28 June, 2007 Ayers is ok but is day-to-day.
The food was top drawer, glatt kosher and economic. Although there was not the broadcasting balagon of the league-opener where game announcers struggled with adapting loshen Kodesh (the holy tongue of Hebrew) to baseball lingo, this game’s Anglo public address announcer has what to learn in terms properly announcing each hitter of the lineup, what position each plays, etc.
But a great time was had by all, and the hometown club won. Can even the most demanding Phillies or Cubs fan ask for anything more?