Israel national baseball team

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Israel Israel national baseball team
Country Israel
ConfederationConfederation of European Baseball
ManagerEric Holtz
WBSC World Rank18Increase
World Baseball Classic
Appearances1 (First in 2017)
Best result6th (2017)
Olympic Games
Appearances1 (First in 2020)
European Championship
Appearances1 (First in 2019)
Best result4th (2019)

The Israel national baseball team (Hebrew: נבחרת ישראל בבייסבול‎) represents Israel in international competitions.

Prior to the 2017 World Baseball Classic (WBC), Israel was the 41st-ranked national baseball team in the world (and ranked 16th in Europe).[1][2] After its performance in the 2017 WBC, in which Team Israel came in 6th, the team was ranked 19th in the world (and 4th in Europe).[3]

From left to right, former team manager Brad Ausmus, Shimon Peres and Daniel B. Shapiro.

In 2019 Israel won the European Baseball B-Pool competition, with a 5–0 record. It then won the best-of-three 2019 European Qualification Playoff Series, with a 2–0 record. Consequently, it qualified for the 2019 European Baseball Championship 12-team tournament in Germany, where it came in fourth. As one of the top five teams in the Championship, it thereby moved on to compete at the Africa/Europe 2020 Olympic Qualification tournament. It won that tournament, and thus qualified to be one of six national teams that will compete in baseball at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Current team[edit]

Israel roster - 2019 European Baseball Championship and 2020 Olympic Qualifying Team
Players Coaches





  • 32 Richard Kania (coach)
  • 4 Kibe Kazumasa (coach)
  • 25 Andrew Lorraine (pitching coach)
  • 20 Nate Mulberg (coach)



In the 1970s American immigrants started playing baseball in Israel. In December 1986, the Israel Association of Baseball (IAB) was formed as a non-profit organization to develop baseball in Israel. Israel has baseball teams in all age groups from 10 to 30.

In 2015, Israel senior national team pitcher Dean Kremer became the first Israeli to be selected in the Major League Baseball draft.[5] He was picked by the San Diego Padres in the 38th round. Kremer opted to fulfill his college commitment, and play for the UNLV Rebels baseball team.[6] After playing for the Rebels for the 2016 season, Kremer was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 14th round of the 2016 draft.[7] In 2019 Kremer reached Class AAA for the first time, pitching for the Norfolk Tides of the International League.[8]

Based on its performance in the 2017 World Baseball Classic, Israel automatically qualified for the 2021 World Baseball Classic.

The current senior national team manager is Eric Holtz.[9]

World Baseball Classic[edit]

2013 World Baseball Classic[edit]

Team Israel competed in the September 2012 Qualifier Round 1, in Jupiter, Florida, against Spain, France, and South Africa. Israel won easily in their first game. Israel then beat Spain in the winner's bracket. Spain then eliminated South Africa to earn a rematch with Israel, in the final game. Spain won the winner-take-all final game, 9–7 in 10 innings, to advance to the main tournament.

2017 World Baseball Classic[edit]

Team Israel wearing their kippot during Hatikvah before the game against Great Britain on September 22, 2016.

In September 2016, Team Israel competed in the 2017 Qualifier 4 round. Colorado Rockies coach Jerry Weinstein served as the manager.[10] Israel's roster included 20 MLB-affiliated minor leaguers, making up 86% of the team, more than any other team in the qualifiers even before including recent Major Leaguers.[11]

Israel won all three of their games in the qualifier, beating Great Britain twice and Brazil once.[12][13][14] With the win, Israel advanced to play in Pool A in South Korea in March 2017, against South Korea, Taiwan, and the Netherlands.[15]

Prior to the start of the 2017 tournament, ESPN considered Israel, ranked 41st in the world, to be the biggest underdog in the tournament, referring to them as the "Jamaican bobsled team of the WBC".[16][17] Israel began the round robin tournament with wins against world # 3 Korea and world # 4 Chinese Taipei,[18] and world # 9 Netherlands.[19] Team Israel's first round performance afforded it a spot in the second round, in Pool E in Japan, and ensured its participation in the 2021 World Baseball Classic tournament.[20] Ryan Lavarnway was named Pool A MVP.[21]

In the first game of the second round, Team Israel beat Team Cuba (world # 5) by a score of 4−1.[22] Israel lost the next two games, to the Netherlands and world # 1 Japan, and came in third in Pool E.

In 2018 a documentary was released entitled Heading Home: The Tale of Team Israel, which covered the experience of Team Israel at the 2017 World Baseball Classic.[23][24]

European Baseball Championship[edit]

2019 European Baseball Championship[edit]

Team Israel won the 2019 European Baseball Championship - B-Pool in early July 2019 in Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria, winning all five of its games. It thus advanced to the playoffs against Team Lithuania in the 2019 Playoff Series at the end of July 2019 for the last qualifying spot for the 2019 European Baseball Championship.[25] Israel won the best-of-three playoff series 2–0, and thereby qualified for the 2019 European Baseball Championship.

In preparation for possible qualification by Israel to play baseball at the 2020 Summer Olympics, 10 American baseball players made aliyah in 2018 in order to qualify under the citizenship requirement for the 2019 European Baseball Championships and the Olympics. The players were Corey Baker, Eric Brodkowitz, Gabe Cramer, Blake Gailen, Alex Katz, Jonathan de Marte, Jon Moscot, Joey Wagman, Zack Weiss, and Jeremy Wolf (who lives in Tel Aviv).[26][27][28] They were followed in 2019 by Jeremy Bleich, Ty Kelly, Nick Rickles, Danny Valencia, and Ben Wanger.[28][29]

In Round 1 of the 2019 European Baseball Championship, Israel went 4–1 (defeating world # 18 the Czech Republic, Sweden, Germany, and Great Britain while losing to the Netherlands). The team thereby advanced to the Championship's eight-team playoffs, with Mitch Glasser leading all Championship batters in runs with 7, and Blake Gailen tied with Germany's Marco Cardoso for the lead in hits, with 8.[30] In the Championship playoffs, Israel defeated Team France in the quarterfinals, lost to Team Italy in the semi-finals, and came in fourth.[31] In the Championship, Joey Wagman led all pitchers with a 0.00 ERA over 10.2 innings.[32][33]


2020 Olympics[edit]

Because Team Israel finished in the top five in the 2019 European Baseball Championship, it earned the right to participate in the 2020 Olympics qualifiers. That round robin tournament took place in Italy between September 18 and 22, 2019.[34][35] As the winner of that tournament it qualified to be one of the six national teams that will compete at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

The Israeli team started strong at the September 2019 Africa/Europe Qualifying Event, by defeating all three 2019 European Baseball Championship medalists - world # 8 Netherlands, world # 16 Italy, and Spain, before losing to the Czech Republic. In its final game, Israel beat South Africa 11–1 in a game that was stopped in the 7th inning due to the mercy rule. Team Israel won the tournament with a 4–1 record. It thereby qualified to be one of six national baseball teams that will compete in the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. First baseman/DH Danny Valencia batted .375 and led the tournament in runs (7), home runs (3), RBIs (9), walks (5), and slugging percentage (1.000), and starting pitcher Joey Wagman tied for the tournament lead with two wins, and led in complete games (1) and strikeouts (14) as he had an 0.56 ERA in 16 innings.[36]

Every member of the 24-member Team Israel that competed to qualify in the Olympics was Israeli, with four of the players native-born.[37] The others made aliyah to Israel, under Israel's Law of Return, which gives anyone with a Jewish parent or grandparent or who is married to a Jew the right to return to Israel and be granted Israeli citizenship.[37] Native-born Israeli team member Shlomo Lipetz observed:

"There is no other country like Israel that carries an identity as it does with Jews around the world. We’re not the only team here with citizens that don’t live in the country. There were other teams like Spain that had 22 Venezuelans and two Spaniards. But they didn’t have that connection. This wasn’t just a group of people, All-Stars who came together. It was people who all had a Bar Mitzvah. We were joking around that everyone will post their Bar Mitzvah photo."[37]

Qualified for 2020 Summer Olympics
Qualified for Final Qualifying Tournament
Team W L Pct. R RA
 Israel 4 1 .800 34 11
 Netherlands 4 1 .800 26 15
 Czech Republic 3 2 .600 27 17
 Spain 2 3 .400 16 20
 Italy 2 3 .400 23 26
 South Africa 0 5 .000 8 46

Other competitions[edit]

European Juveniles Baseball Championship

European Junior Baseball Championship

Past rosters[edit]

2017 World Baseball Classic[edit]

Israel roster - 2017 World Baseball Classic
Players Coaches





International tournament results[edit]

World Baseball Classic[edit]

World Baseball Classic
Tournament Results
Medal Tally
Gold medal world.svg
Silver medal world.svg
Bronze medal world.svg
World Baseball Classic record Qualification record
Year Host(s) Round Position W L RS RA Host W L RS RA
2006 Did not enter No qualifiers held
2009 Did not enter No qualifiers held
2013 Did not qualify United States 2 1 18 14
2017 South Korea Round 1 1st 3 0 21 10 United States 3 0 15 3
Japan Round 2 3rd 1 2 9 21
2021 Qualified Automatically qualified
Total 4 2 30 31 5 1 33 17

European Baseball Championship[edit]

European Baseball Championship record Qualification record
Year Host(s) Round Position W L RS RA Host W L RS RA
2010 Did not qualify Croatia 2 2 22 27
2012 Did not qualify Israel 3 2 39 16
2014 Did not enter Did not enter
2016 Did not qualify Slovenia, Austria 8 2 97 29
2019 TBD Serbia TBD

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Israel's baseball team moves up in world rankings". i24news. Archived from the original on 18 October 2014. Retrieved 14 October 2014.
  2. ^ "The WBSC World Rankings 2016 -- WBSC". Retrieved 13 December 2016.
  3. ^ "New WBSC World Rankings revealed following World Baseball Classic 2017"
  4. ^ "IAB - Israel Association of Baseball - Team Israel Roster - European Championships 2019". Retrieved 12 September 2019.
  5. ^ "Kremer first Israeli to be picked in MLB draft". The Jerusalem Post.
  6. ^ Heller, Aron. "Israeli baseball player selected in MLB draft for 1st time". The Washington Times. Associated Press. Retrieved 7 March 2017.
  7. ^ "Dean Kremer Stats, Fantasy & News". Major League Baseball.
  8. ^ "Dean Kremer College, Minor & Fall Leagues Statistics & History". Retrieved 23 September 2019.
  9. ^ "Senior National Team on their Way to Vienna - Israel Baseball - Official Site". Retrieved 31 July 2015.
  10. ^ "How a Survivor's Son Is Bringing Baseball to Israel". The Forward.
  11. ^ "Israel off to great start in Baseball Classic Qualifier tournament in Brooklyn", The Jerusalem Post
  12. ^ "Great Britain vs. Israel - 09/22/16".
  13. ^ "Great Britain vs. Israel - 09/25/16".
  14. ^ "Brazil vs. Israel - 09/23/16".
  15. ^ "Israel Advances to the World Baseball Classic". The New York Times. 25 September 2016. Retrieved 7 March 2017.
  16. ^ "Team Israel -- and its mascot, Mensch on a Bench -- is the Jamaican bobsled team of the WBC," ESPN.
  17. ^ "World Baseball Classic: Israel's Cinderella Run Forges Ahead After Upsetting Taiwan," Haaretz.
  18. ^ "Israel wins at World Baseball Classic again," USA Today.
  19. ^ "World Baseball Classic newcomer Israel advances to second round," USA Today.
  20. ^ "Israel advances to 2nd round of World Baseball Classic," Times of Israel.
  21. ^ "Israel's Lavarnway named MVP of Pool A,"
  22. ^ "Israel upsets Cuba at WBC," The Japan Times.
  23. ^ "Exclusive: Full Trailer for 'Heading Home: The Tale of Team Israel' Doc". Retrieved 5 September 2018.
  24. ^ "Heading Home: The Tale of Team Israel". Retrieved 5 September 2018.
  25. ^ "Meet the Senior National Team Coach: Eric Holtz," IAB - Israel Association of Baseball.
  26. ^ "10 U.S.-Jewish Baseball Players to Get Dual Israeli Citizenship in Bid to Make 2020 Olympics". Haaretz. 11 October 2018. Retrieved 12 October 2018 – via Haaretz.
  27. ^ "Ten Jewish-American baseball players to immigrate to Israel for Olympics". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 12 October 2018.
  28. ^ a b "Israel's baseball team has a secret weapon – and it may get it into the Olympics," Haaretz.
  29. ^ Israel Baseball on Twitter: "Mazaltov to new Olim Nick Rickles, Ty Kelly and Ben Wanger who will join #teamisrael at the European Championships in Germany next week #israelbas...
  30. ^ "Statistiken der Baseball-EM 2019"
  31. ^ Tournaments & Events Overview 2019 (4 August 2019). "Tournaments & Events Overview 2019 | CEB". Retrieved 23 September 2019.
  32. ^ "EUROPEAN Championship A-Pool - Individual Statistics". Retrieved 22 September 2019.
  33. ^ "EUROPEAN Championship A-Pool - Standings & Leaders". Retrieved 22 September 2019.
  34. ^ Scott Barancik. "Retired, shmired," Jewish Baseball News.
  35. ^ Scott Barancik. "MLB Monday (August 26-September 1, 2019)," Jewish Baseball News.
  36. ^ "2019 Stats Leader Board",
  37. ^ a b c Ken Rosenthal (23 September 2019). "Rosenthal: A stunning, tear-filled conclusion for Team Israel, with inspiration and history". The Athletic. Retrieved 25 September 2019.
  38. ^ "European Championship Final Standing".