It is that time of year again, time for the most anticipated event of the combined worldwide baseball and popular science communities. No, dearest, imbecilic reader, it is not what you are thinking, the so called “World Series”, or the World Baseball Classic, it is not even Haley’s Comet. It’s the Israel Association of Baseball’s Annual Hannukah Tournament. Boom! 29 teams in 3 age divisions playing games simultaneously at 7 venues across the country. Over 350 participants – players, coaches, umps, parents, grandparents, drivers, and fans.
An event of this magnitude, surely, was no easy administrative task, it required the considerable force of 3 of this Earth’s most powerful Jewish Baseball Geniuses, Neon Leon Klarfeld aka The Overlord of All Jewish Safety, Wellbeing, and Barbecues aka Jewish Santa Clause aka Jewish Wizard of Oz, Margo Sugarman, the Queen of Jewish Emails Pertaining to Israel Baseball and All Other Divine Communications, and, of course, me, the One, The King of All Jewish Baseball.
It began with a simple meeting over pizza with Neon Leon. A great idea. A Hannukah Tournament. It happens every year like the changing of the seasons. What could go wrong with something so natural, so perfect? Weeks later, 40 different versions of the schedule taped the the wall at international HQ of Israel Baseball, an unsolvable puzzle, a broken man, phone calls at all hours from coaches, travel conflicts, venue changes, there’s no home plate at Baptist Village, Raanana needs baseballs, only half of Jerusalem’s uniforms were delivered, the sun is going down and Shabbat starts early this time of year, forecast says rain in Bet Shemesh, there’s only one ump scheduled for Modiin, can Dan ump, Misgav thinks their playing at 10am in Tel Mond, call them, they’re playing at noon at Gezer, I am getting a call on the other line, write up another schedule, Ginot Shomron has a Bar Mitvah in the morning, 3 of their players can’t make the early game, Rehovot and Tel Aviv have to combine to get to a total of 9 players, write up another schedule, e-mail it to me, we’ll send it out to everyone, hold on, I am getting another call, wait, which copy are we sending out?
It was like the control room at Cape Canaveral, Apollo 13, a rescue mission, Houston, we have a Hannukah Tournament, we ate dehydrated food for a week, didn’t sleep, and when we did, fitfully, awoken by a buzzing phone under our pillow, worried for our Jewish Baseball Brothers lost out in space, or on Route 431, The Hashmonaim Flames have a flat tire.
In the end, it worked, sort of. The teams got to the fields. Umps were there. Pitches were thrown. Outs were recorded. Actual baseball games were played. Scores were even reported. More schedules. Day 2. Week 2. Still no sleep. A winners bracket. A losers bracket. We’re getting close to the end, the Spacecraft of Jewish Baseball is nearing safe re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere. Write it up and get it out. Confirm the umps.
Then… it rained. Even now, a week later, as I sit here, literary genius, Ulpan dropout, typing, it rains still. And day 2 of the tournament was eventually canceled due to weather. It was, even with the rain, the largest Hannukah Tournament in nearly 5,000 years.
I can, as you know, faithful reader, continue on like this for some time, with these words, peeling back the layers of time and thought, lingering, going deeper, to a place where there is nothing, to the center, but I will spare you the full power of my descriptiveness…ness, for now, instead electing to show you this new piece of technology, by Queen Margo, a collage slide show music video mixed media installation. We are, after all, inside of a blog, if you have forgotten, a forum for this kind of thing. I warn you only, before you begin, do not stand and punch something due to the rush of adrenaline you will surely receive from the song alone, at least not with your throwing hand. Here it is…
But we did not stop there. No, the insanity of the tournament was not enough. So between rounds of the Hannukah Tournament, we had Israel Baseball All Star Day. West Coast scouting supervisor from the Cincinnati Reds Rex De La Nuez came to see 20 of our best 14-18 year olds, there were skills competitions for younger players, a free barbecue, we lit the Hannukah Candles outside the 1st base dugout, and then the grande finale, the Greatest Jewish Baseball Show on Earth, the 1st ever Premier League All-Star game, under the lights, in front of the ever-growing IAB extended family. Hundreds of friends, family, and kids in their uniforms stayed to watch 2 teams, 24 players in total, battle for the right to call themselves the best, in Israel, that night.
And then, it was over. The phone calls stopped. The inbox returned into a manageable flow. The schedule stopped changing. And I can now say, Ladies and Geetles, without further frothing and rambling, using only the power of my technicolor coat, and 2 modern day royals, we did it. And we continue to do it. We may have been rained out, but we will not be rained on. Israel Baseball, lift off.