Hi to everyone out there in the blogosphere! My name is Leon Feingold; I am 33 years old, a real estate broker and lawyer in Manhattan, and a former pitcher in the Cleveland Indians system.
Growing up in Long Island, New York, I enjoyed playing sports (soccer especially, which is 'football' for those of you outside the United States), but my only connection to baseball before high school was collecting baseball cards. I never was involved with Little League baseball like many other kids were, and I never watched it on TV or listened on the radio. I only started playing baseball around the age of 14 or so when I read somewhere that you couldn't really appreciate baseball cards unless you appreciated baseball. That year for the first time I tried out for my high school baseball team as a sophomore; I could run and throw but I couldn't hit very well or field at all. I wound up getting sent to the nurse's office during tryouts because I missed a lazy fly ball with my glove and caught it with my forehead instead.
I didn't make the team that year (needless to say) but I did start practicing, and that summer I played with a league outside of school and became an All-Star third baseman and first baseman - I guess I had some natural talent and I just needed a little coaching and a lot of practice. I didn't know how to pitch, then - someone suggested I try it because of my size (I'm almost 2 meters tall now - 6'6" - and even back then I was one of the taller kids on the team) and because I threw pretty hard. I was lucky enough my first year to have a coach who was patient enough to show me the difference between the stretch and the windup, and teach me all the other things I needed to know as a pitcher, a position I grew to love. The next year as a junior I made the high school Junior Varsity team as a pitcher, made the Varsity team my senior year, and went to college and pitched all four years on the Varsity team at State University of New York at Albany.
I attended a tryout camp in Watertown, NY with the Cleveland Indians after I graduated college and after throwing in the low-to-mid 90s I was offered a contract - to the best of my knowledge, I remain the only player signed by the Cleveland Indians out of that tryout camp. I spent the next two years pitching in a few cities around the United States: Watertown, NY; Butte, Montana; Winter Haven, Florida; and Burlington, North Carolina. I had a great time and made many friends around the country, but following two shoulder surgeries I figured my professional career was over. I attended law school at Hofstra University School of Law and worked a variety of 'real' jobs, including working as a Senior Analyst with the Wall Street Reporter Magazine, Managing Editor for the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, Operations Manager for American Dynamics Corporation, and now as a Broker with Cooper & Cooper Real Estate - but all the while, my love for the game never wavered and I harbored not-so-secret desires to one day find my way back into professional baseball.
Once my arm got better I played semi-professionally with tournament teams and summer leagues, and was clocked as high as 93mph a few years ago in a tournament. At that point I knew I had the ability to pitch professionally again, and just needed the opportunity. Imagine my surprise when one of my teammates on the Westchester/Rockland Wooden Bat League, where we had been playing with the Fordham Red Sox, told me about a new professional league in Israel (The Israel Baseball League) that was starting up - I knew I had to check it out. I came, I saw, and - well, here I am.
And here we come.