Israel national baseball team
|Israel national baseball team|
|Confederation||Confederation of European Baseball|
|WBSC World Rank||18|
|World Baseball Classic|
|Appearances||1 (First in 2017)|
|Best result||6th (2017)|
|Appearances||1 (First in 2020)|
|Appearances||1 (First in 2019)|
|Best result||4th (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). 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).
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.
|Israel roster - 2019 European Baseball Championship and 2020 Olympic Qualifying Team|
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. 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. 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. In 2019 Kremer reached Class AAA for the first time, pitching for the Norfolk Tides of the International League.
Based on its performance in the 2017 World Baseball Classic, Israel automatically qualified for the 2021 World Baseball Classic.
World Baseball Classic
2013 World Baseball Classic
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
In September 2016, Team Israel competed in the 2017 Qualifier 4 round. Colorado Rockies coach Jerry Weinstein served as the manager. 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.
Israel won all three of their games in the qualifier, beating Great Britain twice and Brazil once. With the win, Israel advanced to play in Pool A in South Korea in March 2017, against South Korea, Taiwan, and the Netherlands.
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". Israel began the round robin tournament with wins against world # 3 Korea and world # 4 Chinese Taipei, and world # 9 Netherlands. 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. Ryan Lavarnway was named Pool A MVP.
In the first game of the second round, Team Israel beat Team Cuba (world # 5) by a score of 4−1. Israel lost the next two games, to the Netherlands and world # 1 Japan, and came in third in Pool E.
European Baseball Championship
2019 European Baseball Championship
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. 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). They were followed in 2019 by Jeremy Bleich, Ty Kelly, Nick Rickles, Danny Valencia, and Ben Wanger.
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. In the Championship playoffs, Israel defeated Team France in the quarterfinals, lost to Team Italy in the semi-finals, and came in fourth. In the Championship, Joey Wagman led all pitchers with a 0.00 ERA over 10.2 innings.
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. 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.
Every member of the 24-member Team Israel that competed to qualify in the Olympics was Israeli, with four of the players native-born. 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. 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."
|Qualified for 2020 Summer Olympics|
|Qualified for Final Qualifying Tournament|
European Juveniles Baseball Championship
European Junior Baseball Championship