Major League Baseball Finds a New Home in the Middle East

E-mail Reena Ninan
Video: Holy Homers

No peanuts … no Cracker Jacks … and the burgers are all kosher. Major League Baseball has come to Israel.

The Petah Tikva Pioneers took on the Modi'in Miracle. Since there isn't a Yankee Stadium equivalent in Israel, the opening game took place at a local Baptist church, the only place in Israel equipped with a proper baseball field.

Gatorade was given up for the local bottled water. The American national anthem was replaced by the Israeli one. No one took off their caps and patriotically placed them over their hearts. That could be because most of them don't understand Hebrew. Only 20 of the 120 players are Israeli. Many of them were recruited outside of Israel. Some are from the U.S. and even the Dominican Republic. I overheard one player ask in Spanish, "What's FOX News doing in our dugout?" I took that as a hint to leave.

The players were much more accommodating with younger fans looking to have their baseballs autographed. They aren't making an A-Rod level salary. For a 45-game season each player gets $2,000. Their flight to Israel and room and board are covered. Most of them are grateful for the chance to keep playing the game and to see a new country.

Bringing baseball to Israel was the idea of Boston businessman Larry Baras. This was his way of giving back to the community.

Video: Holy Homers

"Israel is known for violence. Bringing baseball here, which so many of us love, is one way to do something good," said Baras.

The final score: 9-1. Modi'in Miracles took home the first win.

And if tickets sales are any measure, (1,000 seats were expected to be sold, 3,000 ended up selling) Major League Baseball has found a new home in the Middle East.

E-mail Reena Ninan

Reena Ninan is FOX News Channel's new Middle East correspondent. Before coming to Jerusalem, Reena joined the NYC bureau of FNC as an on-air correspondent in March 2006. Click over to read her full bio.