Seeing the Israeli flag waving over the baseball diamond at the Tokyo Olympics is a dream for every Jewish baseball fan. The Israel Association of Baseball has launched a crowdfunding campaign to help us send Team Israel to three tournaments we have to win in order to be able to qualify for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan. With your help, we can raise the finds that will enable us to compete to reach the Olympic Games.

These tournaments are being played around Europe at different stages of 2019. We have to win these tournaments to earn a coveted spot at the Olympic Games.

We need to raise the funds that will help 25 players and coaching staff get to the tournaments. Our expenses include: Air travel and local transportation, accommodation, food, uniforms and equipment, and pre-tournament practice and training expenses including field rentals.

Team Israel includes 10 professional American Jewish players who have made Aliyah to be part of Team Israel for the Olympics.

The incredible success of Team Israel in the 2017 World Baseball Classic is still clear in our memories. Seeing an Israeli team on the global stage of the Olympic Games will be a dream for every Jewish baseball fan. Our local players were inspired and enriched by seeing Team Israel on a global stage, and it motivated them to become even better players themselves.

Seeing an Israeli team at the Olympic Games will be as emotional and exciting an event as we have ever seen in Israel baseball. But we cannot do this without your help. By contributing to our crowdfunding campaign with a tax-free donation, you can share in this fantastic journey and in the future success of Team Israel Baseball at the 2020 Olympic Games.

Click here to donate - https://www.jewcer.org/project/israelbaseballolympics/

 

The rainiest days in Israel recent years in Israel didn't stop Georg Bull, visiting coach from Germany, from leaving a lasting impression on every baseball player he came into contact with. Bull has a long career in baseball, from playing for the West German Junior National Team in 1979 and onwards. He was the first German to play baseball in South Africa and the Dominican Republic. He founded the German Baseball Academy in 2003 and coached seven German youth or junior champions. (for more, click here)

Georg first made contact with Israel Baseball when he met national team coach Amit Kurz at the PONY Tournament in Prague. “For personal reasons I´ve always wanted to visit Israel,” he recalls. “So, when Amit suggested I come and give a clinic (in Israel), I happily agreed.” Bull has also been a mentor to Kai Friesem of the Ra’anana Juniors, who he met at this year’s PONY tournament, and invited him to come and train at his baseball camps in Germany.

After spending a few days touring Israel, and after the sun finally came out, Georg started his coaching tour around the country. Georg started his Israel Baseball coaching tour in Misgav where he impressed our experienced coaches with his knowledge, true love and respect for the game. “Georg brings a simplistic approach to coaching from the Dominican Republic, where he runs an Academy with Nate Trosky, the YouTube baseball celebrity,” notes Justin Peedin, IAB Head of Baseball Operations. “Those guys don't have much to work with yet continue to produce the world’s best ball players.”

He worked intensively with the Israel Baseball Academy players, the IDF Sportaim and members of the Senior National Team. He worked with the players on effective ways to train their mind, body and baseball skills. From hitting popcorn kernels like the Dominicans, to practicing throwing form with towels, the players gained so much from Georg’s practices. “The impact Georg had on us was so immense, and the knowedge that he brought was invaluable. It's guys like him that we need to get us to the next level," enthuses Avi Segal, a member of the Israel Baseball Academy who practiced with Georg.

Georg also spent an evening with the IAB coaches, giving them valuable tips and insights. He finished his trip with a clinic for cadets and juniors in Modiin.

Georg was impressed with the attitude of the Israel baseball players. “The boys came long ways from all directions and cities every day and showed that they loved the game,” Georg says. “I was impressed by the talent, work ethic and the enthusiasm they showed. There were quite a few Israeli players who helped me get better as well because they asked questions and made comments that made a lot of sense and helped with the whole program. Israel was a great experience for me. Everybody received me with open arms and genuine hospitality as well as with a deep love for the great game of baseball. I definitely made friends for life.”

“Georg brings a very encouraging and inspiring approach to the game,” says Justin. “He reminds our players that we grind to get better simply because ‘it's awesome!’ He breaks down the fundamentals simply and effectively, as the pros do day in and day out. We are so grateful to have this bond with one of the world’s best coaches.”

Georg left with a special place in his heart for Israel and we hope to see him back again soon!

“Sugar, sugar and caffeine!” That’s how Dan Rothem explains how he stayed alert through the  7 hours and 20 minutes it took him to broadcast the longest post-season game in MLB history between the Dodgers and the Red Sox on October 16/17 on Israel cable TV’s Sport 5 channel. 

For the past six years, Dan, a veteran of Israel baseball (player and coach) and former Vice President of the Israel Association of Baseball, has been on air, commentating in Hebrew to night owl baseball fans who are up for the live broadcasts. His brother, Asaf, also an Israel Baseball player and former coach, had been a reporter writing about American sports and business when he was approached to cover the games in 2012. “Once Asaf settled in,” Dan recalls, “he suggested they bring me on board as well, and we’ve been broadcasting ever since, many times with the help of former IAB president Haim Katz.” Recently, another Israel baseball alum, Alon Leichman, who has been part of the Seattle Mariners coaching staff, also joined in, providing “an unprecedented level of insight into the sport.”

During the regular season, every week or two (depending on when the channel decides to air a game), Dan and partner sit in the Sport 5 studios in Herzliyah Pituach, just outside Tel Aviv, to commentate. “Our broadcast is a full data-driven operation, he explains. “We have a TV monitor where we see the live feed directly from the field, as well as the audio of the American broadcasters, which our Israeli viewers hear when we don’t speak. We also have a desktop, a laptop open, and two smartphones available providing all the stats and info. During the playoffs, games start in the evening in Israel, and this year, viewers were able to see almost the full schedule - at least one game a day.

Highlights
“I love doing all-star games because unlike basketball and other team sports, baseball is really an individual sport played in a team setting. So, the all-star game is really the best baseball in the world because the fact that the players don’t play with each other daily is insignificant. Having said that, the last two seasons each featured a tremendous World Series. In 2016 the Cubs beat the Indians in a mesmerizing Game 7. In 2017 the Astros also beat the Dodgers in seven games - a tremendous series that featured Game 5, which in my mind, is the best game I’d ever seen, and certainly broadcasted.”

Challenges
“Our biggest challenge is the tension between, on the one hand, introducing the sport to a largely unfamiliar Israeli audience, and, on the other hand, providing insightful analysis. In the early days we really tried to introduce the sport and focus on its basic elements by explaining rules. But we soon realized that was unrealistic, and that broadcast MLB games aren’t a good platform for teaching baseball. So, instead we focused on providing insights into what is actually happening, assuming the viewers have a basic understanding of the sport.”

Dan eschews the view that baseball is a slow sport. “In our broadcasts we really try to focus on the duel between the pitcher and the batter, which, in a real sense, is 90% of this sport. A lot happens in an at a bat, and TV games are a great opportunity to appreciate this duel.”

A Brief History of Dan Rothem in Israel Baseball
In the late 1980s, Dan's brother Asaf’s friends dragged them to the Sportek field in Tel Aviv where Leon Klarfeld (currently the IAB’s Head Umpire) and other coaches oversaw 20 kids of all ages. “We had no uniforms, just one equipment bag with old gloves and bats, and a handful of balls,” Dan reminisces. “We were just a passionate group of kids. In 1989, I was invited to join Israel’s first youth national team that participated in the European Little League qualifiers, where we lost to Saudi Arabia 51-0 in our first ever game!”

Dan followed his early Little League pioneering experience with additional national team appearances, military service, and one memorable but unsuccessful tryout with the Cubs. He became the first Israeli player to play college ball, spending four years at GA Southern and Gardner-Webb University. After college he returned to Israel and played in the Premier League, the Senior National Team from 2004-present, the 2007 Israel Baseball League, and the 2012 WBC qualifiers.

He continues to be a driving force and a larger than life personality in Israel Baseball, and has notably led the Tel Aviv Comrades Premier League team to more championships than he can remember. His philosophy of winning is simple: “We win so much because we don’t care about winning. Every season I tell my players: ‘Don’t worry about winning and losing. Our job is to get better. You have no control over the final result. You have to focus only on what you can control. You have to slice the sport to small, manageable pieces: have a quality at bat, throw a critical mass of quality pitches from the mound, and make athletic plays defensively. That’s it. Don’t worry about the score. If we do these things, the score will take care of itself most of the time (sometimes it won’t!).’”

He has a day job too
When he’s not on the baseball field, Dan is an independent analyst of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the peace process, and US-Israeli relations. “My day job changes based on the projects I’m working on, but all of them allow me some flexibility and control over my schedule so I can dedicate a lot of time to my baseball responsibilities, of course!”

Dan’s Sources
His success as a baseball broadcaster relies in part on a wealth of baseball sources that he shares below:
For in-game stats and pitch-by-pitch analysis, he uses two sources: the first is MLB’s live gameday platform, available for each game at www.mlb.com. The second source is Baseball Savant, which goes even more in depth, provides access to statcast data, the system that measures everything on the field, including pitch velocity, the hit ball’s exist velocity and launch angle, and many other cool things.
For a comprehensive statistical analysis of teams and players, he uses www.fangraphs.com.
He also rely on other analysts and commentators to help figure out the most relevant information for the specific game they’re watching. To this end, they curated a Twitter list called Assaf’s Notebook, named after IAB superstar Assaf Lowengart, the IDF sportsman, who is currently playing at Delta College in California - https://twitter.com/drothem/lists/list.

All around the country in the coming week, hundreds of players and their coaches will take to the fields. Returning and new players will learn from the best, improve their skills, compete in five leagues and have lots of fun. Registered players will also be able to take part in our Enrichment Program, starting in October, as well as other events throughout the year. 

The first game of the Premier League will take place on October 7 at 19:15 at the Baptist Village, and games will take place every Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. Please see our website for the full schedule. All are welcome to come and support the teams. Juniors and Cadets games will also begin in October. Juveniles and minors will begin their game season in February 2019. Details on our website. 

If you are age 5 and up, with or without experience, you can come and play baseball. Please send us an email to info@baseball.org.il for details.

Our returning players are excited to start the season. See what they have to say about baseball. 

The Israel Association of Baseball has finalized and signed a contract with the city of Ra'anana to build a new baseball field in Park Ra'anana. The field will be named after Ezra Schwartz, z"l, who was killed in a terror attack in 2015 while in Israel from the US on a yeshiva program. 

The plan was approved by the Ra'anana city council on July 24.

"This will allow us to have our own full sized field, to host international and European tournaments, to have a field for the National Teams to practice on and to have a field where we could hold Premier League games at night," explains Peter Kurz, IAB President. "This also gives us the opportunity to expand our program in Ra'anana and in the surrounding Sharon region, where we have been quite limited over the last two years after our field was appropriated by the Israel lands authority." 

There will be a big push next year to expand the program in the Sharon area, with outreach to schools, community centers (matnassim) and other after-school programs. 

The location in the western part of the city is excellent for a sports facility, There is good transportation to Park Ra'anana and a train station will soon be built there. In the new facility, to be built as a multi-purpose facility for soccer and baseball, the plan is to have clubhouse facilities and rest rooms, batting cages and bull pens. Under consideration are also a players lounge, clubhouse, and work-out facility for players. The field should be available for use in the fall of 2019.

"The Ra'anana field, along with the field to be built in Bet Shemesh, will provide the IAB with three full-sized, adult facilities with lights, and the possibility of expanding and developing our Premier league to a new professional league," notes Kurz. "In this way, we hope to reach our dual goals of providing a much higher level of baseball in Israel, and also growing to at least 2,500 players playing in the Israeli leagues. Baseball will then become the third largest team sport in Israel."

Don't have an account yet? Register Now!

Sign in to your account