The Israel Association of Baseball (IAB) is a non-profit organization, duly registered in Israel, and dedicated to promoting and developing baseball in Israel. The IAB is a member of The Israel Olympic Committee, The Confederation of European Baseball (CEB) and The International Baseball Association (IBAF). The Israel Sports Authority, as well as the above-mentioned organizations, recognizes the IAB as the governing body for baseball in Israel.
Since its inception, in December 1986, the IAB has attempted to create an infrastructure for baseball in Israel by teaching youth baseball. The main activities of the IAB are:
1. Teaching the fundamentals of baseball to youth.
2. Creating teams and leagues.
3. Organizing and running clinics for coaches, umpires and players.
4. Organizing and running first-aid clinics.
5. Creating, organizing and running national tournaments and national teams.
6. Sending national teams to compete in European championship tournaments.
7. Organizing and hosting international tournaments and clinics.
8. Erecting backstops and improving fields.
9. Procuring equipment and promoting baseball in the local, national and international press.
In accordance with applicable Israeli law, the general assembly of the IAB elects a Board of Directors. The present board consists of 14 volunteers.
The daily business of the IAB is carried out by the Executive Committee, the Officers, (President, Secretary General, Treasurer & Vice President), the Regional Directors and the Office Administrator.
The IAB has, for the purpose of facilitating league play and development, divided Israel in to 5 regions: The North, the Sharon and Tel-Aviv, the Central Plain (Shfela), Jerusalem and the Gallilee. Each region forms leagues according to the following age groupings:
Minors: 8-10, Juveniles: 10-12, Young Cadets: 13-14, Juniors 16-18 and Seniors: 18 and over.
There are presently over 70 teams in Israel
The IAB is a fully integrated organization. Religious and ultra orthodox youth, secular children, boys, girls, rich and poor, Kibbutz children, city dwellers, Jews, Christians and Arabs all play together on the same field and very often on the same team.
The IAB places emphasis on teaching good sportsmanship and to be an example to the entire community on how sports can integrate a multi-ethnic society. We are one of the few (if not only) sports association in Israel in which both observant and non-observant Jewish youth play together side by side on the field. The IAB feels it is important to reach out to the community and conducts public and school clinics to introduce baseball to the general population. The most successful of these programs is the "peace clinics" which have been held since 2001. Children from Arab and Jewish schools meet on the baseball diamond to learn a new sport and make new friends. The result of these clinics is Tel Aviv's first Jewish – Arab baseball team in Jaffe.
In international play Israeli National Teams have done well on all levels and are usually considered stiff competition. In the past we have played teams from all over Europe and from the Middle East. The very first sports contact of any kind between Israel and Saudi Arabia was on a baseball field in a European Little League Tournament. About a month before Israel signed a peace agreement with Jordan, the Israeli National Baseball Team played an exhibition game with The Jordanian National Team. In a small way, Israel baseball has played a role in furthering peace with its neighboring countries.
The IAB has organized many clinics for coaches, umpires and players. The very first clinic was the Rising Star clinic, for coaches. It was organized with the help of the International Baseball Association. Other clinics were organized with the help of Major League Baseball International, Maccabi USA and other CEB member federations. Some of the coaches that have conducted clinics in Israel were: Steve Sotir (IBA) Darrin Van Tassel (GSU), Larry Briant (GSU), Jim Levebre (MLB California A's batting coach), Pat Dobson (MLB Colorado Rockies pitcher), Sam Suprizlio (MLB California A's field instructor), Roger Sperber (Maccabi USA), Frank Fulton (German Baseball Federation), Tim Pulmer (German Baseball Federation), Riccardo Fraccari (IBA chief umpire), Tony Fosses (MLB St. Louis Card's pitcher), Bill Waite (MLBI San Clemente High School coach of the year), Al Goldis (MLB Asst. General Manager Cincinnati Reds ), Howard Gershberg (MLB pitching coach Angels AAA), Jeff Siegel (Global Youth Baseball), Marty Clary (Pitcher Atlanta Braves), Norman Ringel (head Coach for Bronx Science High School NYC) Pat Doyle (MLB envoy), Richard Kanya (CEB Envoy) and Anna Maria Paini Scorekeeper.
In February 2000 the Israel Association of Baseball organized and hosted the annual Confederation of European Baseball (CEB) congress in Eilat, Israel. Over 115 representatives from 30 European Baseball Federations participated as well as representatives from Major League Baseball Int. (MLBI), Little League Int., and the International Baseball Federation. The delegates and executive committee members of CEB emphasized their opinion on how the congress was a tremendous success, and unprecedented in its organization, administration and exposure to local culture. Special guest speakers to the congress were Eilat Mayor, Gabi Kadosh and Israel Olympic Committee Chairman, Zvi Varshiviak, both of whom expressed strong support for the development of baseball in Israel and for locating sites for fields.
In July 2000, the IAB organized and hosted the “First Israeli International Friendship Tournament”. With the assistance of Jeff Siegel, of Global Youth Baseball, and his crew of coaches and umpires, the IAB ran a two week instructional clinic and three team tournament, Team Israel Blue, Team Israel White and Team Cyprus. Over 75 youth participated in the clinics as well as the players and coaches of the three teams. Coaches and umpires clinics were held as well. The IAB intends to make this educational tournament into an annual event starting in the year 2002.
The IAB has sent a Juvenile (10-12) national team to official tournaments in Europe every year since 1998 and has sent Cadet teams to JCC and European competitions in 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004. In 2004 Israel participated for the first time in the European Seniors B pool tournament in Germany finishing in 5'th place. In 2008 Israel came in 3rd in the qualifying tournament in Croatia and in 2011 they finished 2nd in the qualifying tournament held in Israel.
The IAB hosted a baseball tournament at the 17'th and 18’th Maccabiah games in 2005 and 2009 respectively. The 2005 USA team was led by head coach Jerry Weinstein (now manager of Colorado Rockies farm team). In 2011 Israel held its first CEB sanctioned tournament, a European senior qualifier tournament.
A professional league, which operated independently but under the auspices of the IAB, was organized in 2007. The league had 6 teams and played a 40 game season during the summer months. Unfortunately the league encountered severe financial difficulties and was unable to continue. In 2009 a new group of investors headed by Marv Goldklang, a minority owner of the NYY and owner of several minor league teams, and Jeff Rosen, a US business man who owns the Maccabi Haifa Basketball team, entered an exclusive agreement with the IAB to consider the possibility of creating a new professional league. This would entail building new facilities and at present we are looking into the possibility of building fields in Raanana, Modiin and Bet Shemesh.
The IAB has been invited to participate in the Qualifiers for the World Baseball Classic which will be held in the fall of 2012. Israeli players will have the opportunity to play side by side with players of Jewish heritage from around the world to represent Israel on a global stage.