Jason Bonder’s Journey to the Greater Philadelphia MABL and the Impact of COVID-19 on Family and Baseball

By Steve LaMontia, Director of Communications

Jason Bonder resides in North Wales, Pennsylvania and plays in the 35-over division of the Greater Philadelphia MABL.  He began playing in Philly in 2010 after also playing baseball and coaching children in Israel as he was living there as part of his Rabbinical schooling.  Below is a Q & A with Jason regarding his baseball career, his personal roadmap and also how the coronavirus pandemic impacts his family and baseball life.

How long have you played in your MSBL league? I began playing here in Philadelphia in 2010 when I began Rabbinical School. I played with the Colt .45’s four out of the five years of my Rabbinical School program. I went to a tryout and was randomly drafted by them. I consider it one of the greatest chance occurrences in my baseball life. Those guys have become my good friends and they gave me a community to jump into as soon as I got here to Philly. My fourth year of school was spent in Israel, so I had to miss that baseball season here, but I played in the one and only Israeli baseball league and volunteer coached for children there as well. Way back in 2007, I played in the Israel Baseball League, Israel’s one and only “pro” season of baseball. So, playing in the men’s league in Israel was a great reunion for me with friends I made on the ball field.  In 2015 I went out to Tempe, AZ to start my career as a rabbi. When I returned here in my current job, I joined back up with my same team, the Colt .45’s.

What is your biggest takeaway from our current coronavirus outbreak? My biggest takeaway from this coronavirus outbreak is to not take anything for granted. That has always been, and continues to be my approach on the ball field, especially as the decades go by. I always want to remind myself that it is a gift and a privilege to step onto the ball field. Coronavirus now gives us a chance to have a “dress rehearsal” of what it will be like to not be able to play one day. I’ve learned that once I’m off the field, I’ll have to rely on the great memories and friendships that transcend the game. 

What are you doing to stay engaged with baseball? Right now I have two great throwing partners in my kids who are five and two. So I’m not getting the work in that I might if I had teenage kids in the house, but the joy I get from passing the game on to them makes up for that. I’m also hitting off of a tee and throwing into a net as much as I can.

Are you still able to workout regularly during this period? I am getting workouts in but it’s mostly running and bodyweight exercises. Having the gym closed is definitely a tough one for me. 

What special activities are you and/or your family able to participate in? The most special times for us is the time my family and I have together. I know that this coronavirus is terrible. There’s no way around that. But a silver lining is that I am home and getting to spend much more time with my wife and kids. There is a ton of educational content on the internet for kids and so my wife and I are incredibly grateful for that it gives us a moment or two of a break!

Will you be participating in any national fall tournaments this year? I don’t plan to this year but I hope to in the future!

Any comments? I want to give a heartfelt thank you to all of the people who put in so much work to let us continue to play ball. I want to give a big shoutout to my manager, Ian Downes, to our league commissioner, Brett Mandel (who incidentally recommended me for this spotlight piece!) and to everyone nationally who lets us keep having the thrill of lacing up the spikes and competing.