Israel’s national baseball team making its way to the Olympics


“There is baseball in Israel!” declared Peter Kurz, general manager of Team Israel. His squad had just received President Reuven Rivlin’s blessing in advance of the Tokyo Olympics in the summer.However, not long ago, one might have ended the above statement with a question mark instead of an exclamation point, as few Israelis – including its president – were familiar with America’s national pastime.But over the past decade, baseball in the Holy Land has produced an impressive string of achievements, reminiscent of David’s upset victory over Goliath. Admittedly, the road has not been smooth. In 2012, a painful extra-innings loss kept Israel from advancing to the 2013 World Baseball Classic.Four years later, with the help of several former Major Leaguers – like pitchers Jason Marquis (a 2009 Major League Baseball All Star with a World Series ring), Josh Zeid and its MVP catcher Ryan Lavarnway (who had also earned a World Series ring) – Team Israel shocked the baseball world by finishing sixth in the WBC, while barely missing the final four in Los Angeles. Its victory over South Korea was dubbed the greatest upset in the history of international…

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