Turning a dream into a reality.
Since 1901, the Jewish National Fund has been dedicated to doing just that. Project Baseball is all about turning a field of dreams into a reality.
Baseball in Israel
It was not until 1979 that the first real baseball field in Israel was built. Today, Israel’s baseball federations, the Israel Association of Baseball (IAB) and the Israel Softball Association (ISA), compete against teams from Europe, Asia, North America, and the Middle East. There are scores of leagues throughout Israel, accommodating players of all ages, genders, and denominations.
In 2005, the IAB held its third annual Tel Aviv Peace Clinic. Eighty Israeli Arab and Jewish students escaped the daily pressures of life in Israel to spend a day playing baseball. The children spent the morning learning the game’s fundamentals and then played a real game in the afternoon. The setting of a baseball field, playing a game new to most of the children, gave them a rare opportunity to interact and work together.
It is estimated that the number of regular baseball players in Israel exceeds 2,000 and continues to grow…or has the potential to grow. But therein lies the problem.
The growth of baseball in Israel has been stymied by several factors, but without a doubt the key one is a severe shortage of baseball fields. Examples:
In Jerusalem, where hundreds of adults and children participate in league play, there is only one true baseball field. And that field does not have a single blade of grass, but has a dangerous combination of dust, rocks, and thorns.
In Bet Shemesh, where children play baseball all the time, the one field is built on a slope, such that players must run uphill to first base.
In Tel Aviv, players rush to and from their positions between innings because there are no lights at the lone baseball field, so all play must cease at dusk.
Haifa, Be’er Sheva, and Tiberias have players, but no baseball fields at all. Players from these cities must travel elsewhere if they want to play.
Why baseball, you ask?
After all, baseball is only a game.
To the uninitiated, that is a true statement. But for those who have come to play it, study it and fantasize about it, it is far more.
Baseball embodies values that are far too diminished in today's society, ideals such as patience, and sportsmanship in the face of failure. Immense value is placed on the individual, whether alone on the pitcher’s mound or with all eyes centered on the lonely hitter in the batter’s box. But baseball also personifies teamwork and interdependence.
The famous columnist George Will once wrote: “Baseball, it is said, is only a game. True. And the Grand Canyon is only a hole in Arizona. Not all holes, or games, are created equal.”
How you can help
Contributing to Project: Baseball makes you a partner in supporting the campaign to provide baseball fields to those in Israel who wish to play the sport. You can donate online or contact your local office by calling 888-JNF-0099 to discuss giving opportunities with a JNF fundraiser.
Giving and Naming Opportunities:
- Field of Dreams: $1,500,000 Provide the funding needed to build a fully-equipped baseball complex in Israel and have the field named after you, a loved one, or your company
- Community Baseball Field: $500,000
- Field Lights: $75,000
- Home Plate (permanently engraved): $50,000
- Pitcher’s Mound: $36,000
- Bleachers: $36,000
- Infield: $36,000
- Left Field, Center Field, or Right Field: $25,000
- Dugouts: $18,000 (each)
- Water fountain: $10,000
- Bases: $5,000
A plaque commemorating those who contributed $5,000 or more will become a fixture at each ball field built.
On Sunday, June 24, participants on JNF's Field of Dreams Mission packed the stands along with over 3,000 other fans to watch the Modi'in Miracle take on the Petach Tikva Pioneers at the opening game of the Israel Baseball League. Players and managers from all six IBL teams greeted fans and signed autographs throughout the night as Modi’in, led by Miracle Met Art Shamsky, defeated Ken Holtzman’s Pioneers 9-1.
JNF has partnered with the IBL to bring the joys of America's pastime to Israel. Through Project Baseball, JNF is raising money to build community baseball fields throughout Israel - where the number of fans and players is growing but adequate baseball diamonds are scarce - to provide a place for all Israelis to enjoy the sport. JNF also helped to upgrade and refurbish Gezer Field, home of the Modi'in Miracle and the Bet Shemesh Blue Sox, and the Sportek Field, home of the Tel Aviv Lightning and the Netanya Tigers, bringing them up to par for a professional league.