St. Louisan will play baseball in Israel


The Israel Baseball League was recently formed, and St. Louis has one of its very own signed onto a team for the first season.

David Kramer is a St. Louis Cardinals and New York Yankees fan. Now he’s off to Israel to be one of 120 athletes to play professional baseball for the newly formed Israel Baseball League (IBL).

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“I’m really excited,” Kramer said. “This is kind of a dream come true to me to actually get paid to play baseball, something I’ve loved doing my entire life. Also just playing baseball at a professional level is so exciting.”

Kramer played baseball in high school, then continued the sport in college and graduated from Washington University this past semester with a degree in history. He is a second-time honoree of the first-team all-University Athletic Association and was first-team All-American for the Jewish Sports Review last year.

Out of the six different teams that were formed for the new league, Kramer, a second baseman, joined the Bet Shemesh Blue Sox.

Former New York Yankee and pro baseball’s first designated hitter, Ron Blomberg, is the coach for the Bet Shemesh Blue Sox, and Kramer is looking forward to working with him.

The team consists of players from around the world, including Australia, Canada and Dominican Republic.

The inaugural season begins June 24 and will consist of 46 games. The league will play six days a week, excluding Saturdays for Shabbat.

Kramer said he has a lot of hopes for this upcoming season and is excited to live in Israel. Before this opportunity, he had only been to Israel once, with the birthright program during his freshman year of college. This will be the longest he’s ever been out of the country.

The baseball season for Washington University ended in the middle of May, so in order to stay in shape, Kramer said he’s been working out with friends, which includes running, weight lifting or various other exercises. He was scheduled to leave for Israel earlier this week.

“I hope to continue playing competitive baseball and having a great time in Israel,” Kramer said. “I hope that people will show an interest in it because I love Israel and I love baseball, so I’m just hoping they will work out together. It’s really not a sport right now. They have little leagues but their major sport is soccer. I hope to bring baseball to Israel.”

Once he arrives in Israel, Kramer will live in a complex northwest of Tel Aviv with all the players in the league.

The area includes an exercise complex and is located five minutes from the beach.

He said his mom is worried for his safety when he’s in Israel, but he isn’t.

“I know you have to be smart about where you’re going over there and careful at what you’re doing,” he said. “At the same time though, I feel like more people are more aware of what’s going on there and because of that, there’s more of a feeling of safety.”

Kramer has family that lives in Israel, and has a few friends that are studying abroad there over the summer, so he knows he won’t be alone.

After he returns home at the end of the summer, Kramer plans to work at a hospital for a year, eventually take the MCAT exam, and then apply to medical school. Now he is just anxious to see how the summer will turn out.

There are a few adjustments in Israel’s baseball league that he will have to get used to though.

The IBL uses wood bats, as opposed to the metal bats Kramer is used to playing with.

He said that will be an adjustment, but using wood bats should not be that bad because the summer leagues he used to play on also played with wood bats.

There are also only seven innings, as opposed to nine.

“Just being Jewish, you’re always connected to Israel, so it’s just a great opportunity and I couldn’t say no to the chance of getting to play there,” Kramer said.