Jun 11, 2007 — When the Israel Baseball League plays its first-ever game on June 24, YU alumnus Dovid Green wil be there, playing the infield for the Petach Tikva Pioneers. Yeshiva College junior Aryeh Rosenbaum will take his place on the field the following day with the Bet Shemesh Blue Sox.
At the inaugural player draft that took place on April 26, Green was the 59th player drafted out of the 60 named that day. (In a symbolic gesture, number 60 was baseball legend Sandy Koufax.)
Mr. Green, a graduate student in psychology at Columbia University, practiced with the YU team—which, he said proudly, is now an NCAA team—where coaches Norman Ringel and Howie Blitz treated him “like family.”
Mr. Green, who hails from Newton, MA, and who helped form the YU baseball team in his junior year, said he dreamed of playing professional baseball “since I was a little kid, but I couldn’t figure out how I could both play for the Boston Red Sox and remain an observant Jew.”
So when the opportunity came along “to play professional ball and be the same person I am, I realized I could fulfill my dream,” he said.
While the 42-game, three-month IBL season will no doubt be taxing, “it will be the best summer job I have ever had,” Green joked before his departure, noting that games aired on Israeli television will be simulcast on the Internet so Americans will be able to share the excitement.
Mr. Rosenbaum—a member of the YU baseball team this past year—attended IBL tryouts in Hinsdale, MA. He had to wait until the college baseball season was over before if he accepted the invitation to join. “If I had joined the league, it would have made me ineligible to play on YU’s team because the NCAA doesn’t allow professional athletes to compete in the college division,” Mr. Rosenbaum said.
He chose the Bet Shemesh Blue Sox, he said, “because there are lots of Americans in [the town of] Bet Shemesh who will identify with me and support our team.” The fact that their colors are white and blue, like the YU Maccabees, was another draw, he admitted.
The pre-med student remembers citing “professional baseball player” as his dream job in his tenth-grade economics class, only to be told by one of his friends, “Orthodox Jews can’t play professional baseball.”
“Well now they can,” Rosenbaum says. “And in Israel, no less.”