Right to left: WNBC's Len Berman moderates a panel with IBL Founder Larry Baras, IBL spokesperson Marty Appel, IBL team Manager and former NY Met Art Shamsky, with IBL players Nate Fish and Dan Rootenberg.
By Julia Levy
While dedicated baseball fan Emily Posner, Cornell '04, might not be present at the opening night game of the brand new Israel Baseball League (IBL) this June, she created one of the most unique pre-season launch celebrations from 6,000 miles away.
In New York City on Thursday, April 26, 2007, Emily Posner led a kick-off event for the IBL with a distinguished panel and including IBL's first official player draft. Moderated by famed WNBC sports anchor Len Berman, the panel featured IBL founder Larry Baras; IBL manager and celebrated NY Mets player Art Shamsky; IBL Director of Baseball Operations and former General Manager of the Boston Red Sox and Montreal Expos Dan Duquette; IBL spokesperson and former PR Director for the NY Yankees Marty Appel, and IBL players Dan Rootenberg, Nate Fish, and Dovid Green. "I think we are all pretty amazed at the evening Emily put together. This was a wonderful way for the IBL to reach out to its emerging fan base here in the U.S. and have everyone join in on the fun," said Larry Baras, IBL's founder.
Following the panel, the IBL conducted its first player draft via video conference with Israel. It was hosted by ESPN's celebrated anchor and national correspondent Jeremy Schaap, Cornell '91, and featured picks for teams Bet Shemesh Blue Sox, Modi'in Miracle, Netanya Tigers , Petach Tikva Pioneers, Ra'anana Express, and Tel Aviv Lightning. The first pick of the night was 22 year-old Aaron Levin for the Modin Miracles while the last pick was Sandy Koufax, the famed pitcher who refused to participate in the 1961 World Series game because it fell on Yom Kippur.
The inspiration behind this event was sparked by a newspaper article about the IBL that Posner's father, an avid NY Mets fan, shared with her. "My father has such great enthusiasm for the IBL even though he has never visited Israel. This makes me realize that the IBL will serve as a gateway to Israel for Jewish-American baseball fans who need to learn more about the wonderful, lively events and activities happening in Israel." Posner, a Taglit - birthright israel and Cornell alumna, sought to combine her affinity for both organizations in this spring event. "I was so excited about the IBL that I wanted to introduce it to others who love Cornell, Israel, and baseball– three of my favorite things," she explained.
Drawing from her leadership role on the Cornell Jewish Connection (CJC) Committee, Cornell Hillel's innovative social, cultural, and networking initiative for young Cornell Jewish alumni, Posner received an initial seed grant from Taglit-birthright Israel and The David Project along with Alicia Post. Cornell Hillel also matched the grant.
The IBL panel and draft took place at Benjamin Cardozo School of Law where Emily Posner is a second year law student. Three hundred seats were reserved for young alumni from both birthright Israel and Cornell Hillel alumni who later concluded the night with an after-party in Greenwich Village. For the Cornell Jewish Connection which has sponsored such programs as Power breakfasts at the Regency Hotel in New York City and Shabbat Dinners with the Weill Cornell Medical College's Jewish Student Association and Ivy League Schools, this was one of their largest events thus far. "As a Zionist and a baseball fan, I'm so happy to see the establishment of the IBL" said Rabbi Ed Rosenthal, executive director and campus rabbi at Cornell Hillel. "It was a great event for our young alumni to be a part of as well."
Don't expect baseball, Israel and Cornell's connection to end after the event. After watching the games from New York, Posner will likely visit Israel again to cheer on the IBL from the stands. "My support for the IBL will not stop with its New York launch. My next goal is to bring a NYC group together to watch the first IBL game on television here," she said.
Additional sponsors of the event included Sabon, Abarbanel Wine Company, Damion Edwards photography and Heeb Magazine.
Julia Levy graduated from Cornell 2005. She serves on the Cornell Hillel Board of Trustees.