Account of the unsuccessful attempt to introduce baseball in Israel.
Most Israelis have never heard of the game of baseball, writes high-school teacher Pribble. But that did not stop Boston businessman Larry Baras—famed creator of the cream-cheese–filled bagel—and others from starting the Israel Baseball League in 2007, to “bring joy” to the lives of Israeli families. Enlisting 120 players from nine countries, the league’s six teams played 45 games in their first—and last—season. The two-month adventure allowed Pribble, a former minor leaguer and “sort of” Jew, to visit Israel and spend his summer break playing his favorite game as a pitcher for the Tel Aviv Lightning. Before long, he realized that the league was poorly funded and managed. Paychecks were late, bats and balls were at a premium and the league management seemed disorganized and unable to communicate with players. The teams (Netanya Tigers, Bet Shemesh Blue Sox, etc.) had to make do with rocky infields and dugouts with plastic chairs instead of benches, but “for a fleeting moment professional baseball bloomed in the desert.” Besides covering game highlights, Pribble describes the bonding of disparate players from the United States, Dominican Republic, Israel, Canada and elsewhere; visits to Masada and the West Bank; and his relationship with a young Jewish girl from Yemen. The author does a nice job evoking the unlikely setting, but the story’s lack of drama—and superficial renderings of fellow players—will disappoint many readers. He argues unconvincingly that the summer brought him closer to his roots.
Even a first pitch by Dr. Ruth fails to sex up this lackluster debut.