Synopses & Reviews
It was the first (and last) season of professional baseball in Israel. Aaron Pribble, twenty-seven, had been out of Minor League Baseball for three years while he pursued a career in education when, at his coachs suggestion, he tried out for the newly formed Israel Baseball League (IBL). Of Jewish descent (not a requirement, but definitely a plus) and former pro, Pribble was the ideal candidate for the upstart league. In many ways the league resembled the ultimate baseball fantasy camp with its unforgettable cast of characters: the DJ/street artist third baseman from the Bronx, the wildman catcher from Australia, the journeymen Dominicans who were much older than they claimed to be, and, of course, seventy-one-year-old Sandy Koufax, drafted in a symbolic gesture as the last player. After falling in love with a beautiful Yemenite Jew, enduring an alleged terrorist attack on opening day, witnessing a career-ending brain injury caused by improper field equipment, participating in a strike, and venturing into the West Bank despite being strongly advised against it, Pribble must decide whether to forgo a teaching career in order to become the first player from the IBL to sign a pro contract in the United States. His is a story of coming of age spiritually and athletically in one short season in the throes of romance, Middle Eastern politics, and the dreams of Americas pastime far, far afield from home.
Learn about Holy Land Hardball, a documentary on the Israel Baseball League.
Most fans donand#8217;t know how far the Jewish presence in baseball extends beyond a few famous players such as Greenberg, Rosen, Koufax, Holtzman, Green, Ausmus, Youkilis, Braun, and Kinsler. In fact, that presence extends to the baseball commissioner Bud Selig, labor leaders Marvin Miller and Don Fehr, owners Jerry Reinsdorf and Stuart Sternberg, officials Theo Epstein and Mark Shapiro, sportswriters Murray Chass, Ross Newhan, Ira Berkow, and Roger Kahn, and even famous Jewish baseball fans like Alan Dershowitz and Barney Frank.and#160;
The life stories of these and many others, on and off the field, have been compiled from nearly fifty in-depth interviews and arranged by decade in this edifying and entertaining work of oral and cultural history. In American Jews and Americaand#8217;s Game each person talks about growing up Jewish and dealing with Jewish identity, assimilation, intermarriage, future viability, religious observance, anti-Semitism, and Israel. Each tells about being in the midst of the colorful pantheon of players who, over the past seventy-five years or more, have made baseball what it is. Their stories tell, as no previous book has, the history of the larger-than-life role of Jews in Americaand#8217;s pastime.
About the Author
Larry Ruttman, Fellow of the Massachusetts Historical Society,and#160;is the author of Voices of Brookline, a national finalist for the Award of Merit of the American Association of State and Local History. He has practiced law in Boston for more than fifty years and produces and hosts a television interview show in his hometown of Brookline, Massachusetts.