Twelve years. That's how long I was intimately involved in the activities of the Israel Association of Baseball: umpire, umpire trainer, club team coach, national team coach, fitness instructor, board member, peace envoy, guidance counselor and who knows what else.
Mine was an unlikely beginning: As I was walking down King David street, I heard the sound of a ball hitting a bat come from behind the YMCA. Curious about that sound, I went around the building to see, to my utter surprise, a baseball practice. I stood around watching, making mental notes of things that could be improved, and when the players took a break, I asked the coach if he would mind if I made some suggestions. He was receptive to my input and asked if I wanted to umpire the scrimmage game that was about to start.
That's how it started. A twelve year relationship that has taken me to places like Cyprus; Moscow; north, central and south Italy; and Philadelphia, Omaha, Kansas City and Pittsburgh for various competitions. A relationship that gave me the opportunity to participate in two Jewish Olympics, once as an umpire, once as a coach. A relationship that gave me the opportunity to travel to Jordan as a peace envoy in a failed effort to forge a relationship between Israel Baseball and Jordan Baseball. A relationship that gave me the opportunity to meet Major League Baseball owners, players, scouts, and executives.
But most importantly it was a relationship that gave me the opportunity to invest in the lives of young men, to see boys mature into men who will one day move beyond baseball to be soldiers and university students and build careers and families. And hopefully do those things better because of something they learned in one of my programs.
I'm thankful to those who offered any type of support to my efforts whether it was a financial gift, a kind word, friendship, a word of wise counsel, or by running interference for me with my adversaries.
Now, it's time for my four-month leave of absence to officially become a resignation. Thank you Israel Association of Baseball, it's been a great ride.
Here are a few pics of my last act as Israel Baseball national team coach.