Indians’ Owner Sees the Promised Land
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Article reprinted with permission from the Cleveland Jewish News.
By Ed Carroll
Cleveland Indians owner, chairman and CEO Paul Dolan traveled to Israel the week of April 24 with the Jewish Federation of Cleveland. Dolan joined about 30 other Jewish and non-Jewish business people who were invited on the trip by the Federation, which partnered with Israel Bonds.
Dolan recently spoke to the Cleveland Jewish News about the trip and baseball.
CJN: Were you invited by them to go or was this something you sought out and were interested in?
DOLAN: Invited. They try to put together a group of Cleveland business leaders and I think they shoot for a mix of Jewish and non-Jewish leaders, and we had a mix of both and it was a really wonderful trip.
CJN: You had never been to Israel before this trip?
DOLAN: I had been, once before.
CJN: What were some of the sights you got to see?
DOLAN: We spent a lot of time in Tel Aviv. There we visited with some business people, we visited a school where they were helping Ethiopian immigrant children assimilate into the community, we went to the orchestra where they were providing services to young people with developmental disabilities to help them acclimate, we went to the laundry with the bullet factory underneath. And then from Tel Aviv we traveled up to Beit Shean, which apparently is a partner city to the Jewish Federation of Cleveland, and saw some of the things the Jewish Federation is doing there; and then traveled on to Jerusalem, where we did a lot of the things you’d expect to do in Jerusalem, including a trip to Masada and the Dead Sea.
CJN: What were your thoughts seeing the Dead Sea and that area?
DOLAN: Well, seeing the Dead Sea, that I had never done before, and it’s an extraordinary experience, floating – I don’t float very well, so being able to do that was a unique and fun experience. And Masada was certainly impressive.
CJN: You mentioned (during your talk at Temple Emanu El, bit.ly/DolanTalksIsrael) that you saw one baseball field?
DOLAN: Yeah, there was a rather large city park in Tel Aviv, there was one baseball field. It was empty. To be fair to baseball, the whole park was empty; it was the middle of the day.
CJN: How did the field look compared to fields in the Cleveland area, Progressive Field notwithstanding?
DOLAN: It looked like a city baseball field.
CJN: Did you happen to follow the World Baseball Classic earlier this year?
DOLAN: Oh I did, yes.
CJN: Did you pay attention to Team Israel at all?
DOLAN: Israel had a nice run in the World Baseball Classic. They were sort of the surprise team of the tournament. I don’t think there were actually too many Israelis on the team.
CJN: You’re right, I don’t believe there were any actual Israelis on the team.
DOLAN: Yeah, but Israel did well in the tournament. Don’t know if people in Israel were aware of that or not.
CJN: You know Cleveland had a minor leaguer on the team, right?
DOLAN: I can’t remember, did we?
CJN: Yes, his name is Tyler Krieger, he’s a second baseman.
DOLAN: Oh yeah, I know Tyler Krieger, I didn’t realize he was on the team. He’s a nice ballplayer. I think he plays second base in (Double-A) Akron right now.
CJN: Did you see anything for the 50th anniversary of the Six-Day War while you were there?
DOLAN: I don’t recall, but we were there on Remembrance Day and so that was a very powerful moment, when the sirens went off and the whole country comes to a halt and we get out of our cars or wherever we are and stand in silence, that was very, very powerful.
CJN: Were you aware that was going to happen or was that a surprise?
DOLAN: Yeah, we were given plenty of warning.
CJN: Where were you when it happened?
DOLAN: We were in Rehovot, outside of Tel Aviv, we had just come from this school where we watched how these young Ethiopian children would be assimilated into the school there.
CJN: Any desires to make a return trip?
DOLAN: I would love to go back. It was a great experience. If there was a reason to go back for me, I would go back.
CJN: As I know you’re aware, your comments at Temple Emanu El regarding Chief Wahoo went viral with multiple local and national outlets picking up our story. Do you expect that any time you talk about the sensitive subject of the Wahoo logo?
DOLAN: I was surprised that my comments in that setting got that kind of play, I didn’t realize it would get that kind of exposure. I know there’s lots of interest in both kind of issues so it doesn’t surprise me that if it gets out it would get wider play, but I guess I was not expecting that forum to be the catalyst for a national story.
CJN: As far as the team is going, how do you feel about them so far, a month-and-a-half into the season?
DOLAN: That it’s a month-and-a-half into the season, and we’d love to be 20 games (ahead) in first place, but I think we’ll be fine. As long we get healthy and remain healthy, we should be just fine.
CJN: What were your thoughts when they announced Terry Francona would manage the American League in the All-Star Game, albeit a formality?
DOLAN: Well, as you pointed out, by reason of being the American League champions that was going to be the case. It was great to be the American League champion, would rather be the World Series champion, but Terry is deserving of that kind of recognition and I hope he gets the chance to manage the All-Star team for years to come.
CJN: Any other thoughts on your trip to Israel?
DOLAN: It was a great experience. Israel is a great story whether it’s a 4,000-year old story or just a century-old story, whether we talk about the antiquities or modern state, each one of those stories is very interesting and impressive.