The Oberlin Review
<< Front page Sports February 23, 2007

Baseball Player Offered Chance to Play in Israel

This June, Israel will throw the first pitch of its new professional baseball league and one team wants a Yeoman to be there when it happens. For one lucky senior, it could be an opportunity of a lifetime for him to pursue a career in the sport he loves.

Seth Binder, a senior shortstop for the OC baseball team, has been offered a spot in the new Israeli league and could be playing there this summer.

There will be six teams, such as the Modi’in Miracles, representing six Israeli cities, and currently there is one stadium between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv where all the games will be played. The new league is an attempt by Israel to start up a professional league which is on par with many other countries such as South Korea, Italy, China and Holland.

While the United States’ Major League is by far the best in the world, with Japan’s a solid second, these other international leagues are aimed at creating baseball cultures in their countries by using very talented players from around the world.

In order to find a crop of high quality baseball players, the league had tryouts in Los Angeles, New York, Miami, Boston and the Dominican Republic. Coach Eric Lahetta received an e-mail from the league requesting Binder’s presence at the Miami tryout. The tryouts were filled with many other players who were good baseball players but not currently good enough for the high caliber play of the MLB. Binder shone above many of the others in Miami and was offered a spot in the league.

Since Binder is still playing NCAA ball, there are rules against him agreeing to any form of professional sports and he can do nothing more than consider the offer until he graduates. While playing pro baseball is exciting, it is also in one of the hotspots of global conflict and has many strings attached.

There are worries one might have about playing in a country that was in a war with terrorist groups just a year before. Binder has thought about the things he might encounter there but says in the end, “I’m not afraid, my family is not worried and I just want to play the game I love.”

Having played the game since he was five years old, it appears Binder is ready to play pro sports and could handle it. Being Jewish also has its perks in playing for the new league.

While being Jewish is not a requirement to participate in the league, Binder said that most of the players he tried out with were also Jewish. Going to play in one’s holy land can be a great experience and Binder looks forward to being offered his first visit to the land of his ancestors. If he were to take the spot, he would also be giving back to the Israeli community because part of being a player in the league is teaching young Israelis how to play. These clinics, along with the league’s existence, can create a baseball culture in the country and lead to selection of extremely talented Israeli baseball players. The league also aims to give Israel a chance to field a team for the second World Baseball Classic, something for which Binder could be eligible if he were to play.

The new league is a great opportunity for Binder and for Israel as a country. He has a chance to continue doing what he loves to do and Israel will be able to get a taste of what an Oberlin student has to offer the world.


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