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Baseball Victory Briefly Washes Away 'Bitter Taste of the Day'

March 30, 2011 By:
Alan Abbey
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Alan Abbey

The youth baseball team I coach here in Jerusalem, the Wildcats -- comprised of 15 boys, ages 10-12, including my son -- had a game scheduled at the Kraft Family Stadium in central Jerusalem on Wednesday, March 23, at 5 p.m.

In the morning, my biggest concern was whether we would be rained out. Instead, two hours before the first pitch, a package bomb went off within shouting distance of our field, at the International Convention Center. One woman was killed, and dozens were injured.

Should we play the game? Could we play the game?

Our opponents, the Beit Shemesh Rockets, were ready to come. Their coaches offered the classic line, which I heard from the Jerusalem police spokesman on television even as I exchanged rapid-fire e-mail and text messages with them: We cannot let such an event disrupt our daily lives. Of course, getting to Jerusalem would itself be a challenge, with roadblocks everywhere.

So I polled the parents of my players. Most said that they would send their kids to the game. A few demurred, believing it would not be appropriate. No one mentioned the potential danger of a follow-up attack.

My wife was concerned that our son and the other boys would see inappropriate things. But in the end, she said that we should judge whether or not we should play on the availability of even getting to the field.

Surprisingly, the roads to Kraft were clear.

And once there, the umpire had laid out the base paths and bases. In the end, 12 of my 15 players arrived.

Beit Shemesh, one hour late because of taking the back roads, brought 11. We played the game.

The Wildcats rallied for a dramatic 5-3 victory on a walk-off two-run homer, and for a moment, the bitter taste of the day had been washed away. The banners for the Jerusalem Marathon, which was scheduled two days later and went off without a hitch, fluttered by as we drove home.

I'm still not sure if playing the game was proper. Did we expose ourselves and our kids to danger? Were we crazy even to consider playing?

It was another Israeli moment -- with no completely right or wrong answer.

Alan Abbey is author of "The Eulogizer," JTA's daily appreciation column of those who recently passed away.

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