Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Ferrara first death of Israel Baseball League

Our Man Elli in Israel has resurfaced to bring us sad news: what appears to be the first death among the veterans of the Israel Baseball League. Team manager Tony Ferrara was 84.

"Tony took over for Ken Holtzman when he was fired from Petah Tikva Pioneers," Elli recalls. "Real, real nice guy, players loved him, low-key, and a baseball man through and through.

"Tony may not have been Jewish, but he was the epitome of a mensch."

Tony Ferrara played four seasons with St. Louis Cardinals affiliates before injury ended his dream, but went on to work as a batting practice pitcher, bullpen catcher and scout for Major League teams including the New York Yankees, New York Mets, Seattle Mariners, Chicago Cubs and Oakland A’s.

He also coached college and in the minors-- and acted in and was technical adviser on The Natural.

He was a longtime friend of Mickey Mantle and even wore Mantle's number 7 in his most recent job as bench coach for the Newark Bears.

There was an impromptu memorial service for Ferrara yesterday at the Babe Ruth bat at Yankee Stadium. One of The Mick's sons was there, along with Ron Darling, Art Shamsky, Ed Kranepool, Miracle Met and IBL manager Art Shamsky and legendary Yankee publicist and IBL official Marty Appel.

Click here to see our complete coverage of the ill-fated Israel baseball League on our Israel Baseball League archive site.


Anonymous said...

Just to round out some of the names who came to Tony's service or visited him in his last days: Ambassador Dan Kurtzer (the IBL Commissioner), Art Shamsky, Ron Darling, Gene Michael, Ed Kranepool, Carl Everett, Ross Moschitto, David Mantle, Fred Cambria, Billy Sample, IBL players Dan Rootenberg, Alan Gardner, Leon Feinberg, Scott Cantor, Eric Holtz, Yankee trainers Gene Monahan and Donahue, Yankee PR men Marty Appel, Mickey Morabito and Rick Cerrone, Ray Negron, actor Tony LoBianco, singer Cristina Fontanelli, broadcaster Spencer Ross.....in the interest of accuracy, Tony never played for the Cardinals, but did play in their farm system....and he was never a major league coach, but did throw BP for the Yankees and Mets, and as recently as this past summer, at age 84, for the Newark Bears. Threw BP daily in the hot Tel Aviv summer at 82. Never married, baseball was his family, and he had more friends than almost anyone in the game.

Anonymous said...

Correction: Leon Feingold is the name, not Feinberg

Anonymous said...

Tony's impact was always immediate and deep-rooted...people simply loved him because he loved life and he loved his friends without condition...additional young men who played in the IBL and who were touched by his presence and tutelage and came to visit him were Ryan Crotin, who flew in from Buffalo, NY to visit him, Ben Dashefsky, who spent the weekend in NYC so he could visit with Tony and IBLer and rabbinical student Dovid Green, who took time from his studies and teaching obligations to spend time with Tony...These fine young men, made better by their relationship with Tony (as we all were) along with former IBLers who could not make it in for a visit...Justin Cardinal (Ottowa, CAN), David Kramer (St.Louis), Andrew Morales (Toronto, CAN), Alon Leichman (Gezer, ISR), Adam Goldman (Miami, FL), Ian Okorofsky (Toronto, CAN), Jake Ayers (Peoria, IL), Jason Rees (New South Wales, AUS), Kevin Brill (Miami, FL), Michael Olson (AUS), Mike Hochman (Toronto, CAN), and Noah Walker (where the hell are you these days, Noah?!...;-) sent heart-felt messages to the man who showed up on the scene in the Holy Land and touched everyone's lives. And, to a man, everyone mentioned in these posts would want to say to Tony...Love ya! May we all have the richness and durability of the Coach.

Anonymous said...

one addition... Ari Alexenberg, an IBLer who played for Tony on the Pioneers also visited with Tony in his final days.

BringHeat said...

Actually, the article and Elli got it right (!) by describing him as a player for the Cardinals affiliates - meaning minor league teams. I always enjoy reading the IBL-related articles posted here, although this is the first time it's because it was well-written and professionally done. Good job, guys.

Also present at the memorial were Tom O'Malley, my old manager with the Newark Bears; IBL player Adam Harwood; and quite a few others unmentioned whose names I don't know or recall. They and dozens more showed up for his funeral in Manhattan yesterday, which was a quite moving experience. Knowing Tony and being a part of his life was quite an experience, and he will absolutely be missed. Love ya, Coach.

Anonymous said...

Maxine Agee, Tommie's widow, flew up from South Carolina for Tony's funeral. He was a special man and loved by many. God Bless you, Coach!