Pitching in the Promised Land
A Story of the First and Only Season in the Israel Baseball League
By Aaron Pribble
(University of Nebraska Press, Hardcover, 9780803234727, 280pp.)
Publication Date: April 2011
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
It was the first (and last) season of professional baseball in Israel. Aaron Pribble, twenty-seven, had been out of Minor League Baseball for three years while he pursued a career in education when, at his coach’s suggestion, he tried out for the newly formed Israel Baseball League (IBL). Of Jewish descent (not a requirement, but definitely a plus) and former pro, Pribble was the ideal candidate for the upstart league. In many ways the league resembled the ultimate baseball fantasy camp with its unforgettable cast of characters: the DJ/street artist third baseman from the Bronx, the wildman catcher from Australia, the journeymen Dominicans who were much older than they claimed to be, and, of course, seventy-one-year-old Sandy Koufax, drafted in a symbolic gesture as the last player. After falling in love with a beautiful Yemenite Jew, enduring an alleged terrorist attack on opening day, witnessing a career-ending brain injury caused by improper field equipment, participating in a strike, and venturing into the West Bank despite being strongly advised against it, Pribble must decide whether to forgo a teaching career in order to become the first player from the IBL to sign a pro contract in the United States. His is a story of coming of age spiritually and athletically in one short season in the throes of romance, Middle Eastern politics, and the dreams of America’s pastime far, far afield from home.
Learn about Holy Land Hardball, a documentary on the Israel Baseball League.
Aaron Pribble played collegiate baseball at the University of Hawaii then professionally in the Western and Central Baseball Leagues, in France, and in the Israel Baseball League. He has a master's degree in political science and teaches at Tamalpais High School in Mill Valley, California. Aaron lives in San Francisco.
"Mr. Pribble makes his adventure into a fascinating tale, full of both difficulties and thrills. Pitching in the Promised Land makes good reading."—Dorothy Seymour Mills, NY Journal of Books
-Dorothy Seymour Mills
"Aaron Pribble, a former professional baseball player turned schoolteacher, who starred for the Tel Aviv Lightning in the Israel Baseball League's only season, provides readers with a front row seat and his own unvarnished take on the upstart league."—Jonathan Papernick, Jewish Daily Forward
"With a writing style that is approachable, warm, effective, and engrossing, Pitching in the Promised Land will likely appeal to both Jewish seamheads and casual fans."—Joshua Platt, Jewish Book World
"This is, of course, much more than a baseball story. Pribble relates his romantic involvement, developing bonds of comradeship, and his efforts to consider his own Jewish identity within an Israeli society still striving to resolve its own contradictions. Pribble consistently hits the right notes, conveying his experiences with humor, irony, and a sense of novelty."—Jay Freeman, Booklist
"Pribble tells his story with wit, a little self-deprecating humor, and an eye for detail. . . . It's hard to imagine a better introduction to a far-off land and its age-old conflicts."—James Bailey, Baseball America
"[Pitching in the Promised Land] takes us on an interesting and enjoyable jaunt through a unique moment in Israeli and baseball history."—Donald H. Harrison, San Diego Jewish World
-Donald H. Harrison