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Project: Baseball

   

"Baseball is about talent, hard work, and strategy.
But at the deepest level, it's about love, integrity, and respect."
- Pat Gillick, 2011 Baseball Hall of Famer & President of the Philadelphia Phillies

Baseball in Israel

Baseball in Israel is growing. There are nearly 1,000 players in 16 centers and on 80 teams, and these figures are increasing steadily every year. It was not until 1979 that the first real baseball field in Israel was built. Today, Israel's baseball federations, the Israel Association of Baseball and the Israel Softball Association, compete against teams from Europe, Asia, North America, and the Middle East. There are scores of leagues throughout Israel, accommodating players of all ages, genders, and denominations.

Jewish National Fund's Project: Baseball is a campaign that fosters the growth of baseball in Israel, where we see a rise in fans and players but a shortage of adequate resources. Project: Baseball involves building state-of-the-art baseball and softball fields throughout the country, as well as teaching the fundamentals of the game to Israeli youth through little leagues, summer camps, and clinics.

For generations, baseball has strengthened communities throughout the world and provided children with important extracurricular 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.

JNF and the IAB

Accomplishments to Date

    israel baseball
  • Expanding Israel's first baseball field, located at Kibbutz Gezer, to Major League Baseball outfield dimensions.
  • Upgrading the Sportek field outside of Tel Aviv, which caters to local amateur players.
  • Renovating the field at the Yarkon Sports Complex in Petach Tikva, which hosted the 2009 and 2013 Maccabi Games.
  • Upgrading fields for the inaugural season of the Israel Baseball League (IBL) in 2007.
  • Sponsoring clinics with IBL and MLB players for Israeli children.
  • Sponsoring the production of “Holy Land Hardball,” a documentary about the IBL’s historic first season.

The Current Need

Fields and Facilities

The lack of dedicated fields and the high cost and poor condition of existing facilities are impeding the growth of the sport at all levels. JNF is working to build a new Baseball Complex in Beit Shemesh. Regional sites, such as Binyamina, where baseball and softball can be the primary owners of a field, will help to ensure the best possible conditions for play and offer prime slots for practices and games. These facilities can generate revenue through rentals to other sports and offer Israel opportunities to host international competitions such as European Championships and World Baseball Classic Qualifiers.

Instruction and Coaching

One of the biggest issues facing the growth of baseball and softball in Israel is the lack of a clear development plan for young players. The level of instruction varies from one region to another and is based on the abilities of the coaches in that area, many of which lack any sort of formal training. 

While a training program for coaches has been put in place in certain areas, it is not country-wide. Further, there is still a shortage of full-time instructors who make their living through coaching softball and baseball. The same issue applies to umpires in Israel. We see insufficient numbers as well as an inconsistency in levels of training and experience across regions. The baseball and softball associations (IAB and ISA) must invest in resources that make coach training courses more accessible, instructional hours more convenient, and subsidize overall costs.

Equipment

While the associations maintain the minimum required equipment to facilitate their respective leagues, it falls on the individual coaches to provide much of the equipment for their teams. This greatly hinders the development of the game by limiting a coach's ability to properly train players, discouraging prospective coaches from joining due to the associated cost of equipment, and preventing parents from actively participating in their children's newfound interest.

Local sporting goods stores do not carry baseball/softball equipment so additional equipment must be purchased online, which is a large expense that incurs custom fees. We must find a solution that will provide equipment to all teams and players throughout the state to help grow the sport.

Get involved and Donate to Project: Baseball. For naming opportunities call your local office at 888-JNF-0099.

 

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