Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Israel Baseball vet looks back: Bad food, hot times

Enough with the inside baseball. Time to catch up with another veteran of the Israel Baseball League who’s making good year later. Ryan Forsythe came storming out of Oklahoma Panhandle State University with .398 career batting average and a reputation as the best overall player in the Heartland Conference. He went on to play in Canada and then headed to the Middle East last season to play infield with the Netanya Tigers and is now a a hard-hitting outfielder with the McKinney Blue Thunder of McKinley, Texas, an independent minor league baseball team in the Continental Baseball League.

Today, he’s made the local paper, as Travis Summer writes in the McKinney Courier-Gazette Star about his off-season exploits and season in the Holy Land in an article called Life of Forsythe:

"...The McKinney Blue Thunder’s big-hitting outfielder is well on his way to becoming an actual firefighter after receiving his Emergency Medical Technician and Paramedic certification this past offseason.

“'I tried the business thing first — got into sales — and I realized that it was so repetitious that I knew there was no way I could do it,' Forsythe said. 'I started to do some research and talk to some buddies that were already in the fire service. I did some ride-a-longs and really liked it, so I enlisted back in school.'

"His sudden turn away from a career in the business world isn’t much of a surprise considering the roads he has traveled in his pro baseball career."

Which leads us to Ryan's time in Israel:

“'I really wanted to see the rest of the world,' Forsythe said. 'It paid pretty well, and it was only a three-month league, so I took up the chance to go out there and play ball. Truthfully I didn’t do any research before I went out there. I didn’t want to scare myself into not going out there. Once I got out there it was great.'

"Playing baseball in Tel Aviv, Israel, a town that surprisingly reminded him more of home than he originally thought.

“'It reminded me a lot of San Diego,' Forsythe said. 'It had beautiful beaches, it was a modern city, had a lot of nice people and had a good transit system.'

"Most of the people Forsythe met spoke English, so the transition to life in the world’s only Jewish state wasn’t too drastic. There was one major unexpected difference, though.

“'The food was terrible,' Forsythe said. 'For breakfast they would serve us hard boiled eggs, tomatoes and cucumbers. We would sleep until it was lunch time to avoid having to eat breakfast. We had to find restaurants that weren’t kosher out there. It was a struggle at first, but eventually I got used to it.'

"As far as being an American in the Middle East, Forsythe was given a lecture from the Israeli Police.
“'They told us stuff does happen, but we shouldn’t worry about it or let it affect our daily lives,' Forsythe said. 'So we still went out at night and did what we normally would have. I wouldn’t have changed anything about it.'"

Read Travis Summers' entire article on Ryan Forsythe here.

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