Israel Baseball League

From BR Bullpen


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[edit]

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.


The Bet Shemesh Blue Sox won the only title, in 2007. Ron Blomberg was named Manager of the Year.

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.

Jason Rees led the IBL in home runs and RBI. Shlomo Lipetz was one of the best native Israelis as he had the lowest ERA of any league pitcher with 25+ IP.

IBL Teams[edit]

Israel Baseball League Teams
Team Location Stadium Manager
Bet Shemesh Blue Sox Kibutz Gezer, Israel Gezer Field Ron Blomberg
Modi'in Miracle Kibutz Gezer, Israel Gezer Field Art Shamsky
Netanya Tigers Tel Aviv, Israel Sportek Baseball Field Ami Baran
Petach Tikva Pioneers Petach Tikva, Israel Yarkon Sports Complex Ken Holtzman
Ra'anana Express Petach Tikva, Israel Yarkon Sports Complex Shaun Smith
Tel Aviv Lightning Tel Aviv, Israel Sportek Baseball Field Steve Hertz

IBL Champions[edit]

Israel Baseball League Championship Teams
Year Team Manager
2007 Bet Shemesh Blue Sox Ron Blomberg

Players of note[edit]

Further Reading[edit]

  • 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.

Related Links[edit]

Israel Baseball League