Fans come out in droves as professional baseball hits Israel. On June 23, 2007 the Israel Baseball League (IBL) held its historic Opening Day. It was a dream come true to die hard baseball fans in Israel and was proof that baseball has truly become a global sport. The atmosphere at the Yarkon Sports Complex in Petach Tikva was like out of the movie "Field of Dreams" where fans lined up from all parts of Israel and all across the world to come to a baseball game.
But this baseball game was anything but ordinary. Fans were greeted by players and managers from all six IBL teams, as they signed autographs all throughout the night. Larry Baras, founder of the IBL, personally greeted fans as they walked into the ballpark, as he witnessed his vision come to life. During the Opening Ceremony, all of the 120 players in the IBL lined up along the foul lines as Hatikva, the national anthem of Israel, was sung. Commissioner Daniel Kurtzer threw out the honorary first pitch, and Jeff Royer, General Partner of the Arizona Diamondbacks, was honored prior to the game as well.
As for the game itself, the Modi'in Miracle led by Manager, Art Shamsky, put on an offensive show in front of a crowd of 3,112 fans (security guards estimated it to be over 4,000 fans), as they downed the Petach Tikva Pioneers, 9-1. Modi'in Outfielder Adalberto Paulino, of the Dominican Republic, went 2-for-4 with three runs scored and shortstop Adam Harwood went 2-for-3 with 1 RBI and 1 BB. The Petach Tikva Pioneers starting pitcher, Abel Moreno, could not locate his pitches as he allowed seven runs (five earned) with seven walks and two strikeouts in 2.1 IP. Petach Tikva's Ryan Crotin got the Pioneers on the board as he crushed the first home run ever in IBL history of the left field fence during the fourth inning. Modi'in LHP Andre Sternberg earned the first win in IBL history with two hitless innings. Modi'in starter Matt Bennett of Australia, was magnificent pitching 3 innings, allowing no runs on four hits with three strikeouts.
After the last out of the game, fans stayed and admired the history that had just occurred in Israel. The significance of this game will hopefully further popularize the sport of baseball in Israel.
Learn more about the Israel Baseball League.
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