Soccer and basketball have dominated the sports scene in Israel for decades, but if Shuki Friedman has anything to do with it, their supremacy is about to fade away like a low, inside slider. Friedman plays catcher and first baseman for the Petach Tikvah Pioneers, one of six teams in the new Israel Baseball League (IBL) launched last June. "When we moved to Israel [over 20 years ago], nobody played baseball," Shuki remembers. "Today, it's a dream come true."
The IBL, founded by businessman Larry Baras of Brookline, Massachusetts, has attracted Jewish players from around the world, including Art Shamsky, former member of the 1969 Miracle Mets, who manages the Modi'in Miracle.
Boaz Fish, 13, of Jerusalem, comes from a long line of Mets fans, so he's rooting for Shamsky's team. Boaz is excited to see the players up close and to share his love of the sport with Israel. "People here will also start loving baseball," he predicts. "It's the fairest of all sports-it's not timed, and it doesn't depend on height or things like that. I can actually go to a live game, and all the food at the stadium will be kosher. That's the best of both worlds."