Later on we visited the home of one of the great men of Israel, president of Technion, hero of Israel's War of Independence, General Yaakov Dori. He lives simply in a house that is part of a housing development. There were a number of people there: General Samuel Tankus; Sasha Goldberg, a Haifa businessman; and Carl Alpert, an American who is assistant to General Dori.
Colonel Henshel, Chaim Glovinsky and I joined the group, met the ladies of the party and then sat down to coffee and a discussion of sports that soon developed into a pretty fair rhubarb. Colonel Henshel told of his scheme to form an intercollegiate athletic association which would include Hebrew University, Wingate Institute and Technion. These schools have an informal athletic association now and meet each other in soccer, volleyball, fencing and certain track and field events. Colonel Henshel wanted to formalize the association, and everybody present agreed that it would be a fine thing. Colonel Henshel made a note of it on a sheaf of papers he took from his pocket. Then Colonel Henshel took up his favorite subject: baseball.
"We've inspected the new field at Wingate," he said briskly, "and, with certain modifications, a fine baseball field can be laid out on the soccer field. Now I'll report back to our committee in the United States and we'll step up our efforts to get baseball equipment and a baseball coach over here."
General Dori, sitting back in his chair, his hands clasped on his lap, nodded agreeably. Mr. Goldberg just smiled with the air of a man who had no violent opinions on the subject one way or the other. Chaim Glovinsky sipped his coffee in his imperturbable way. Then Carl Alpert moved forward to the edge of his chair and set his coffee cup down on the table. Mr. Alpert is a short, balding man, whose smiling, friendly countenance apparently masks an actual determination (when he feels strongly about something) not only to disagree with what you have to say but to challenge your right to say it.
"Colonel Henshel," he said, "I think you're wasting your time."
Colonel Henshel, who had been beaming around the little circle, let his mouth fall open in astonishment. "What did you say, Carl?" he asked incredulously.
"You are wasting your time trying to introduce baseball in Israel. The game will have no appeal for the young people here. It is not in character with the spirit of the country. It is too slow. The young people want fast games like soccer. They took to basketball because it's fast and exciting. They would be bored to death by baseball."
Colonel Henshel looked at me and then at Chaim Glovinsky.
"Carl," he said, turning back to Alpert, "you're completely wrong. Baseball is not slow when you understand it. It's highly scientific, and there's something happening every second if you know what to look for. Now, furthermore, our committee at home is charged with raising funds for sports over here, and the idea of introducing baseball in Israel has great appeal for the people we depend upon for contributions."
Carl Alpert leaned back in his chair and crossed his legs.