Israel Baseball League
The Israel Baseball League began its inaugural season on June 24, 2007. Art Shamsky, Ken Holtzman and Ron Blomberg served as managers and Dan Duquette was the director baseball operations. Few of the players had any professional baseball experience and those often in minor European or independent American leagues. Many of the players had played college baseball in the USA.
The Israel Baseball League had a very untraditional farm system. Rather than operating "minor leagues" to develop players, the IBL operates a twofold player development strategy. The league owned and managed the Israel Baseball Acadamy to deveolop young talent in Israel starting at age 8. The league goal was for 25% of players to be Israeli by 2011. To develop international talent, the IBL management also operated a team in the New England Collegiate Baseball League and was affiliated with training facilities in Europe, Asia, Canada and the United States.
The IBL folded after one season due to a horrible financial structure due to the too much, too quick system of establishing baseball in the country. Many players were unable to cash their paychecks due to insufficient funds.
Unique Features of the IBL
The league was incorporating a couple unusual rules - if a game was tied after a 7 innings, a home run derby will take place to determine the winner and a DH may only bat twice a game, with no designated slot in the lineup.
Shortly after throwing a complete game shutout to lead the Blue Sox to the first IBL Championship title, Rafael Bergstrom became the first IBL player to be drafted to a professional contract in the US. Bergstrom, a right handed starting pitcher, was signed on August 29, 2007 by the Bridgeport Bluefish. Bergstrom is a graduate of the University of California, San Diego and played two professional seasons in Germany and one in Australia before joining the IBL for its inaugural season. The Bluefish play in Bridgeport, Connecticut and are part of the Independent Atlantic League.
|Israel Baseball League Championship Teams|
|2007||Bet Shemesh Blue Sox||Ron Blomberg|
Players of note
- Nat Ballenberg, minor league coach
- Nate Fish, Bundesliga infielder
- Oren Gal, Israeli national team infielder
- Orr Gottlieb, Israeli national team pitcher
- Ophir Katz, Israeli national team infielder
- Alon Leichman, Israeli national team pitcher
- Shlomo Lipetz, Israeli national team pitcher
- Moko Moanaroa, minor league outfielder
- Abel Moreno, minor league pitcher
- Maximo Nelson, NPB and minor league pitcher
- Adalberto Paulino, minor league outfielder
- Esequier Pie, minor league pitcher
- Justin Prinstein, Hoofdklasse pitcher
- Jason Rees, Hoofdklasse outfielder
- Rafael Rojano, minor league pitcher
- Aaron Pribble: Pitching in the Promised Land: A Story of the First and Only Season of the Israel Baseball league, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, NE, 2012.