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Miracle Mets Art Shamsky Becomes Baseball Ambassador to Israel

Contact: Jodi Bodner • JNF Director of Communications • 212-879-9305 ext. 221 • jbodner@jnf.org

November 4, 2010 – New York, NY -- Art Shamsky, former major leaguer, member of the 1969 World Champion New York Mets, and manager of the Israel Baseball League’s (IBL) first season Modi’in Miracle has taken on the role of ambassador for Jewish National Fund’s (JNF) Project: Baseball.

“Baseball is a wonderful sport that teaches teamwork and responsibility,” said Shamsky.  “As it gives players the opportunity to deal with both the successes on the field as well as the disappointments,  it is a tremendous basis for life’s many ups and downs. And, it is not only a game for children – both boys and girls -- but adults -- men and women – also enjoy it. This project will offer families in Israel many wonderful moments to share together.

“I am honored that JNF asked me to be the ambassador for Project Baseball,” he continued. “I am hoping that with my experience as a professional baseball player for many years and a member of the 1969 World Champion New York Mets, I will be able to not only help raise money for the development of baseball in Israel but also help in the construction and renovation of fields to play baseball and softball. I'm looking forward to helping in this endeavor.”

JNF’s Project: Baseball is a far-reaching plan to foster the growth of baseball in Israel, where the number of fans and players is on the rise but adequate baseball fields are scarce. The campaign involves building state-of-the-art baseball, softball, and professional-caliber fields throughout the country to provide recreational outlets and entertainment opportunities for Israelis of all ages.

Through Project: Baseball, JNF has upgraded and enhanced three baseball fields: Sportek, a much-needed facility outside of Tel Aviv that caters to local amateur players; the field at the Yarkon Sports Complex in Petach Tikva, which hosted the 2009 Maccabi Games and is used by hundreds of people each day; and the field at Kibbutz Gezer.

The field at Gezer—located between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv—is Israel’s first, and is used by players throughout the region as well as the national softball league. JNF funded the field's expansion to MLB dimensions (30% larger), upgraded the drainage and landscaping, installed new fencing, and improved the field which can now accommodate a number of teams practicing simultaneously.

"If Gezer's field could speak we would hear a warm story of new immigrants from North America and South America planting 10,000 pieces of sod and turning an old artichoke field into one of the premier ball fields in Israel," said Lee Siegel who has lived in Gezer since 1976. "Our adult softball teams and youth baseball teams have practiced and played games on our field for many years. We are easily into our second generation of players, who along with playing the game coach their younger siblings. Our teams are a combination of secular and religious, native born and new immigrant Israelis, recreational and competitive. But everyone thrives and basks in the history that surrounds us from close and far. King Solomon's vacation stopover looks down upon us from Tel Gezer and the sun sets over first base. What could be better? Only a more improved field."

JNF is now working on the next phase of improvements which includes a lighting system so the field can be used for night games, an improved batting cage and bullpen pitching mounds, a press box and scoreboard and sound systems.

I believe in JNF’s efforts,” said Shamsky. “Not just what they are doing for baseball but what they have done all over Israel and what they hope to do in the future. For generations, baseball has strengthened communities throughout the world and provided children with important leisure opportunities. It builds sportsmanship, fosters camaraderie, and creates positive attitudes. More than any other sport, it encourages teamwork. A runner on first base cannot advance without the help of a teammate. Project: Baseball will give the children of Israel an opportunity to learn life lessons while building lasting friendships.”

A baseball “Field of Dreams” mission to Israel is planned for May 29-June 4, 2011. Join JNF on a week-long trip to play baseball against the Israeli National Team and tour the land of Israel. Visit the many places you’ve heard about while playing the sport you love. For information go to www.jnf.org/travel/missions or contact mission chair Dr. Kenny Fried at kennyfss@aol.com or 201-923-4180.

To learn more about Project: Baseball please visit www.jnf.org/projectbaseball or call 888-JNF-0099.

 # # #

JEWISH NATIONAL FUND (JNF) began in 1901 as a dream and vision to reestablish a homeland in Israel for Jewish people everywhere. Jews the world over collected coins in iconic JNF Blue Boxes, purchasing land and planting trees until ultimately, their dream of a Jewish homeland was a reality. JNF gives all generations of Jews a unique voice in building a prosperous future for the land of Israel and its people.

JNF embodies both heart and action; our work is varied in scope but singular in benefit. We strive to bring an enhanced quality of life to all of Israel’s residents, and translate these advancements to the world beyond. JNF is greening the desert with millions of trees, building thousands of parks, creating new communities and cities for generations of Israelis to call home, bolstering Israel’s water supply, helping develop innovative arid-agriculture techniques, and educating both young and old about the founding and importance of Israel and Zionism.

JNF is a registered 501(c)(3) organization and United Nations NGO, which continuously earns top ratings from charity overseers.

For more information on JNF, call 888-JNF-0099 or visit www.jnf.org.

 

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Water Challenges

In Israel the most precious commodity is water and it is at risk. Find out how you can help.

 

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