In the recently published World Baseball and Softball Confederation (WBSC) rankings for 2017, Israel Baseball moved up a massive 22 places to 19th in the world. We chatted to Peter Kurz, President of the Israel Association of Baseball, about this and other great successes in Israel Baseball last year.

Israel rose 22 places in the 2017 world rankings to 19th place in the world. What were the factors that contributed to this rise?
One of the most important factors was the success of Team Israel in the World Baseball Classic where we came in 6th place in the WORLD, ahead of countries such as Cuba, Venezuela, Canada and South Korea. After sweeping the Qualifiers in Brooklyn in 2016, we miraculously swept the first round of the WBC tournament in Korea, defeating Taiwan, Netherlands and host South Korea. In the second round in Japan, we defeated Cuba, but then fell to the Netherlands and Japan.

But just as importantly, Team Israel finished second in the European Championships in Belgrade in July and our U12 and U14 teams finished in first place in tournaments in Italy. Although these Italian tournaments aren’t “official” WBSC tournaments, they do show the dominance of Israel baseball at the youth level.

What were your Israel Baseball highlights for 2017?Belgrade
No doubt it was our showings at the WBC and European Championships, and even though at both tournaments we fell short of winning, we did reach the highest pinnacles that Israel baseball has ever reached. In fact, Israel’s 6th place finish in the World Championships, is the highest plateau EVER reached for any Israeli National team, in ANY sport. And it’s no mistake that it happened in baseball.

We also hosted the 2017 Maccabiah Baseball Tournament, which was a great success, with Team USA taking gold. We were fortunate to have Seattle Mariner Robinson Cano visit our Enrichment Program. He spent time talking to our playing and also showed his skills at bat.

At the same time, I still get a thrill when an 8-year-old’s face lights up when he successfully throws his first strike, or one of our Academy players makes a perfect play under the direction of Richard Kania, our constantly smiling coach from Czech Republic, or one of our IDF Sportaim as he hits a double into the gap at a Premier League game. Those are the real highlights for me and they happen every week in the IAB.

What impact did Israel’s great success at the WBC have on baseball in Israel?
The players who agreed to play for Team Israel WBC, guys including Sam Fuld, Ty Kelly, Jason Marquis, Ike Davis, Ryan Lavarnway, Josh Zeid, all had incredible experiences that they will remember all their lives, and that they still talk about on social media today. The visit of the 10 MLB players in January, and their intense enthusiasm at performing in the Baptist Village in Petah Tikvah for all the kids, hitting Team Pichome runs, signing autographs, taking selfies, was awesome and spread throughout the association. Our performance in Korea and then Japan meant a lot more media coverage with each win, from newspapers, radio, TV, nightly news shows – exposure that we wouldn’t have had any other way. There’s no-one in Israel today who can say they haven’t heard about Israel baseball unless they spent March in a cave!

The result was that we got a lot of new kids wanting to play and there is a definite increase in Israeli interest in baseball. There’s also serious interest from American Jewish players who want to be in a team that can compete in the Olympic qualifiers in 2020 with a team of Israeli passport holders.

You’ve been IAB President for 4 years and previously you served as Secretary General for 8 years. What have been the major changes you’ve seen over these years?
First off, the number of players. When I started we had less than 400 and today are close to 1000, so I think that’s an Maccabiah2017achievement.
I also think the professional level of play has improved dramatically. Today we have the Israel Baseball Academy, we have much more IDF sportaim. The coaching and umpiring has also improved dramatically, and we bring in many visiting coaches to give clinics, and coach teams and coaches.

There is a lot more buzz, more media coverage and a lot more knowledge of baseball in Israel. Awareness of Israel Baseball among the baseball community in the US and among the Jewish community is much greater today. 

President of the IAB is a volunteer position. What motivates you to dedicate so much time to this demanding role?

I LOVE it. I LOVE baseball, I LOVE watching the kids and adults play and love bringing something meaningful to the youth of Israel. It means a lot to me to be a trailblazer and I want to see the first Israeli play in the MLB! I also feed off the other volunteers, on our Executive, our Board and our coaching staff.LeagueWinners2017

What can we expect in the coming years for Israel baseball?
The MOST important thing is in 2018 to build two new fields! If you build it, they will come is not a cliché but a way of life for me. That our the most important mission right now and it will happen this year in Bet Shemesh and Ra’anana.

We are also looking to add more players and leagues, locations and fields, coaches and umpires. We want to send more national teams to international tournaments, and our goal for the Senior National Team is to win the European Championships B pool, place in the top 5 in the A pool, and reach the Olympic qualifiers.
My goal is to have 2,500 players in the IAB by 2021.

And finally… your favorite MLB team and favorite player? Cano 1
New York Mets of course…no favorite players, just anyone who was ever a Met!!

 

The fourth annual IAB All Star Day took place on Monday December 18 at the Baptist Village in Petah Tikvah. 

Skills Competition
Over 90 Minors, Juveniles and Cadets players competed in the Skills Competition, which tested the players’ base running, batting, grounders, fly balls and pitching skills.

The winners in each category were:
Base running: Minors – Guy Shamir (Bat Hefer), Juveniles – Liron Oplinger (Tel Aviv), Cadets – Aviv Bobrov (Misgav).
Batting: Minors – Orly Cohen (Tel Aviv), Juveniles – Toby Cohen (Tel Aviv), Cadets – Amitai Bell (Modiin).All star 2017 2
Grounders: Minors – Avi Graff (Bet Shemesh), Juveniles – Ely Rosenthal (Bat Hefer), Cadets – Amitai Bell (Modiin).
Fly balls: Minors – Noam Grossman (Jerusalem), Juveniles – Itzhak Saban (Ra’anana), Cadets – Golan Ravid (Ra’anana).
Pitching: Minors – Shilo Rosenthal (Bat Hefer), Juveniles – Yahav Arbel (Tel Aviv), Cadets – Akiva Meister (Ra’anana).

After the awards ceremony, Junior League Commissioner Yitzy Roseman lit the Hanukkah candles along with IAB President Peter Kurz.

The more than 200 people who came to play and support the players enjoyed a BBQ, before the start of the highly anticipated Juniors All Star Game.

The All Star GameAll star 2017 3
The Juniors All Stars were divided into teams from the North and from the South. The North was represented by players from Misgav, Tel Aviv, Lev Hasharon and Ra’anana. The South’s players came from Bet Shemesh, Modiin and Jerusalem.

It was a tight game for five innings. The South’s starting pitcher, Yosef Green, pitched a gem from early on, but the North was able to take an early 1-0 lead. The South took a 3-1 lead in the top of the fourth, but the North fought right back with two more runs in the bottom of the fifth to tie the game at 3-3. At the top of the 6th, the momentum began to swing the way of the South, as their bats came alive and they took a 6-3 lead. Coming back into the game, Green shut the North down in the bottom of the 6th. The top of the 7th with two outs and two strikes, the South put the game away with two consecutive steals home. That looked to be the back breaker for the North, which then gave up 7 unanswered runs for a final score of 13-3, and a decisive victory for the South.

Thank you to all those who made this day possible: Leon Klarfeld coordinated the skills competition, assisted by Ido Peled. The coaches who ran the skills competition stations: Judah Rosenthal, Shaked Baruch, Kai Friesem, Ofer Bobrov, Ido Dromy, Moshe Tabak, Jacob Davies and Shlomo Friedman. Mel Levi did the BBQ’ing assisted by David Friesem. Vered Sheidman, Marianna Antoniuk, Yael Berg and Danielle Salber arranged and served the food. Dov Hammer was the announcer for the evening. Yitzy Roseman coordinated the All Star game, and coached the North, with Matthew BryanAvi Levi and Chris Bryan coached the South. Dan Wroblewski and David Thaler umpired the game. Yaron Erel and Miriam Fima ran the merchandising table. Justin Peedin and Margo Sugarman ran the event.

See you all next Hanukkah!

View the embedded image gallery online at:
http://www.baseball.org.il/en/news-blogs/news#sigProIdf82e19bdf4

On Monday December 18 at 18:30 at the Baptist Village, the IAB Junior League All Stars will face off in not-to-be-missed game. The all stars of the teams from the north will take on the south, and it's guaranteed to be an exciting evening of baseball.

Meet the teams:

THE SOUTH 

 

Name: Yosef Green
Team: Bet Shemesh Comets
Height: 176 cm
Weight: 68 kg
Position: P, CF
Throws: Left
Hits: Right
Hometown: Bet Shemesh
Favorite Major League Team: St Louis Cardinals
Favorite Major League Player: Albert Pujols (Angels)

 Yosef Green

Name: Noach Weiss
Team: Bet Shemesh Comets
Height: 180 cm
Weight: 88 kg
Position: OF
Throws: Right
Bats: Right
Homwtown: Bet Shemesh
Favorite Major League Team: New York Yankees
Favorite Major League Player: Derek Jeter  

 Noach Weiss

Name: Yehuda Markson
Team: Bet Shemesh Blue Sox
Height: 163 cm
Weight: 67 kg
Position: C, 3B
Throws: Right
Hits: Right
Hometown: Bet Shemesh
Favorite Major League Team: New York Yankees
Favorite Major League Player: Nolan Arenado (Rockies)

 Yehudah Markson

Name: Yaakov Rabinowitz
Team: Bet Shemesh Blue Sox
Height: 175 cm
Weight: 62 kg
Position: CF
Throws: Right
Hits: Right
Hometown: Bet Shemesh
Favorite Major League Team: New York Yankees
Favorite Major League Player: Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers)

 Yaacov Rabinowitz

Name: Avi Graf
Team: Bet Shemesh Blue Sox
Height: 175 cm
Weight: 60 kg
Position: 3B
Throws: Right
Hits: Right
Hometown: Bet Shemesh
Favorite Major League Team: Boston Red Sox
Favorite Major League Player: Mookie Betts (Red Sox)

 Avi Graf

Name: Avi Paley
Team: Modiin Miracles
Height: 173 cm
Weight: 52 kg
Position: CF
Throws: Right
Hits: Right
Hometown: Nof Ayalon
Favorite Major League Team: New York Yankees
Favorite Major League Player: Mike Trout (Angels)

 Avy Paley

Name: Moshe Tabak
Team: Modiin Miracles
Height: 167 cm
Weight: 60 kg
Position: 2B
Throws: Rght
Hits: Right
Hometown: Metar
Favorite Major League Team: New York Mets
Favorite Major League Player: Daniel Murphy (Nationals)

 Moshe Tabak

Name: Evan Milgram
Team: Modiin Miracles
Height: 166 cm
Weight: 58 kg
Position: IF
Throws: Right
Hits: Right
Hometown: Kibbutz Gezer
Favorite Major League Team: New York Yankees

 Evan Milgarm

Name: Zev Moore
Team: Jerusalem Lions
Height: 177 cm
Weight: 80 kg
Position: SS, 2B
Throws: Right
Hits: Right
Hometown: Neve Daniel
Favorite Major League Team: New York Yankees
Favorite Major League Player: Didi Gregorius (Yankees)

 Zev Moore

Name: Eitan Moore
Team: Jerusalem Lions
Height: 173 cm
Weight: 73 kg
Position: SS, 2B
Throws: Right
Hits: Right 
Hometown: Neve Daniel
Favorite Major League Team: Boston Red Sox
Favorite Major League Player: Dustin Pedroia (Red Sox)

 Eitan Moore

Name: Lior Brenner
Team: Jerusalem Lions
Height: 175 cm
Weight: 55 kg
Position: C, 3B
Hits: Right
Throws: Right
Hometown: Efrat
Favorite Major League Team: Washington Nationals
Favorite Major League Player: Stephen Strasburg (Nationals)

 Lior Brenner

 

THE NORTH

Name: Shlomo Friedman
Team: Lev Hasharon Nationals
Height: 182 cm
Weight: 66 kg
Position: P, CF
Throws: Left
Hits: Right
Hometown: Woodmere, NY
Favorite Major League Team: Houston Astros
Favorite Major League Player: Alex Bregman (Astros)

Shlomo F

Name: Gal Partouche
Team: Lev Hasharon Nationals
Height: 175 cm
Weight: N/A
Position: C, 2B
Throws: Right
Hits: Right
Hometown: Irvine, CA
Favorite Major League Team: Los Angeles Angels
Favorite Major League Player: Mike Trout (Angels)

 Gal Partouche

Name: Ido Peled
Team: Lev Hasharon Nationals
Height: 175 cm
Weight: 69 kg
Position: P, 3B
Throws: Right
Hits: Right
Hometown: Bnei Dror
Favorite Major League Team: New York Yankees
Favorite Major League Player: Mike Trout (Angels)

 Ido Peled

Name: Ido Dromy
Team: Lev Hasharon Nationals
Height: 172 cm
Weight: 63 kg
Position: C, P
Throws: Right
Bats: Right
Hometown: Tel Mond
Favorite Major League Team: New York Yankees
Favorite Major League Player: Salvador Perez (Royals)

 Ido Dromi

Name: Doron Katz
Team: Misgav
Height: 183 cm
Weight: 66 kg
Position: CF, P, SS, 2B
Throws: Left
Bats: Right
Hometown: Misgav
Favorite Major League Team: Boston Red Sox
Favorite Major League Player: Yasiel Puig (Dodgers)

 Doron Katz

Name: Zakai Avidor
Team: Misgav
Height: 186 cm
Weight: 73 kg
Position: P, 1B
Throws: Left
Bats: Left
Hometown: Oakland, CA
Favorite Major League Team: New York Yankees
Favorite Major League Player: Miguel Cabrera (Tigers)

 Zakai Avidor

Name: Ido Malka
Team: Misgav
Height: 177 cm
Weight: 65 kg
Position: OF
Throws: Left
Hits: Right
Hometown: Misgav
Favorite Major League Team: New York Yankees
Favorite Major League Player: Manny Machado (Orioles)

 Ido Malka

Name: Dan Laderman
Team: Tel Aviv Comrades
Height: 176 cm
Weight: 66 kg
Position: OF, 1B
Throws: Right
Bats: Right
Hometown: Tel Aviv
Favorite Major League Team: Oakland Atheltics
Favorite Major League Players: Bryce Harper (Nationals)

 Dan Lad

Name: Nadav Levi
Team: Tel Aviv Comrades 
Height: 175 cm
Weight: 60 kg
Position: OF
Throws: Left
Hits: Left
Hometown: Tel Aviv
Favorite Major League Team: Washington Nationals
Favorite Major League Player:Stephen Strasburg (Nationals)

 Nadav Levy

Name: Iddo Rachamimov
Team: Tel Aviv Comrades
Height: 167 cm
Weight: 70 kg
Position: C
Throws: Right
Hits: Right
Hometown: Tel Aviv
Favorite Major League Team: New York Yankees
Favorite Major League Player: Jose Altuve (Astros)

 Ido Rachamimov

Name: Itai Goldner
Team: Tel Aviv Comrades
Height: 175 cm
Weight:60 kg
Position: SS, 3B, P
Throws: Right
Hits: Right
Hometown: Herzliya
Favorite Major League Team: New York Yankees
Favorite Major League Player: Aaron Judge (Yankees)

 Itai

Name: Yair Roseman
Team: Ra'anana Raiders
Height: 179 cm
Weight: 63 kg
Position: CF, 1B
Throws: Left
Hits: Left
Hometown: Ginot Shomron
Favorite Major League Team: Toronto Blue Jays
Favorite Major League Player: Kevin Pillar (Blue Jays)

 Yair Roseman

Name: Betzalel Kupietzky
Team: Ra'anana Raiders
Height: 184 cm
Weight: 89 kg
Position: 3B
Throws: Right
Hits: Right
Hometown: Ra'anana
Favorite Major League Team: Los Angeles Dodgers
Favorite Major League Player: Yasiel Puig (Dodgers)

 Betazlel

Name: David Gellis
Team: Ra'anana Raiders
Height: 175 cm
Weight: 78 kg
Position: SS, C, P
Throws: Right
Hits: Right
Hometown: Ra'anana
Favorite Major League Team: New York Yankees
Favorite Major League Player: Aaron Judge (Yankees)
 David Gellis

Name: Yonatan Ziering
Team: Ra'anana Raiders
Height: 179 cm
Weight: 74 kg
Position: C
Throws: Right
Hits: Right
Hometown: Ra'anana
Favorite Major League Team: Boston Red Sox
Favorite Major League Player: Carlos Correa (Astros)
 Yonatan Ziering

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The IAB’s annual Hanukkah events are coming up. Join us for two days of fun and baseball during the Hanukkah vacation. The Annual Hanukkah Tournament for Minors, Juveniles and Cadets will take place on December 15, and the All Star Day including the skills competition for Minors, Juveniles and Cadets and the Howie Osterer Memorial All Stars Game will take place on December 18.

IAB Hanukkah Tournament Schedule - Friday December 15

MINORS
Venue: Sportek Tel Aviv
10:00-14:00 - All registered teams - Tel Aviv, Ra'anana, Modiin, Jerusalem

JUVENILES
Venue: Baptist Village
9:00-10:30 – Modiin White @ Lev Hasharon 2
10:40-12:10 – Bat Hefer @ Modiin White
12:20-13:50 – Lev Hasharon 2 @ Bat Hefer
Venue: Baptist Village
9:00-10:30 – Ginot Shomron @ Tel Aviv 1
10:40-12:10 - Modiin Royal @ Ginot Shomron
12:20-13:50 – Tel Aviv 1 @ Modiin Royal
Venue: Sportek Tel Aviv
9:00-10:30 – Tel Aviv 2 @ Lev Hasharon 1
10:40-12:10 - Lev Hasharon 1 @ Ra'anana
12:20-13:50 – Ra'anana @ Tel Aviv 2
Venue: Yad Binyamin
9:00-10:30 – Yad Binyamin @ Modiin Navy
10:40-12:10 - Modiin Navy @ Hashmonaim
12:20-13:50 – Hashmonaim @ Yad Binyamin

CADETS
Venue: Baptist Village - Softball Field
9:00-10:30 - Lev Hasharon @ Jerusalem
10:40-12:10 - Jerusalem@ Modiin Navy
12:20-13:50 - Modiin Navy @ Lev Hasharon
Venue: Sportek Tel Aviv
9:00-10:30 - Hashmonaim @ Ra'anana 2
10:40-12:10 - Modiin Royal @ Hashmonaim
12:20-13:50 - Ra'anana 2 @ Modiin Royal
Venue: Sportek Tel Aviv
9:00-10:30 - Misgav @ Tel Aviv
10:40-12:10 - Ra'anana 1 @ Misgav
12:20-13:50 - Tel Aviv @ Ra'anana 1

All-Star Day
The All-‎Star Day for registered members of the IAB and their families will take place on Monday, December 18, at the Baptist Village from ‎‎16:00 to 21:00. ‎
Schedule‎
‎16:00-17:30 – Skills Competitions for Minors, Juveniles, and Cadets‎‎ (only registered players)
17:45-18:00 - Awards ceremony and candle lighting.
‎18:00 - BBQ
‎18:30 – Howie Osterer Memorial Juniors All-Star Game

All-Star day is FREE. No registration is required. So, come join the festivities for a great day of baseball and bring your ‎family, Monday, December 18, at the Baptist Village for IAB All-Star Day. ‎

Robinson Cano, second baseman for the Seattle Mariners, paid a surprise visit to our Enrichment Program practice during a short private family visit to Israel.

Robinson arrived at the Baptist Village Field in Petah Tikvah where nearly 100 players ages 9-17, who had no idea he was coming, welcomed him warmly. Wearing an Israel Baseball hoodie, he gave the players an inspirational talk. He recalled his early beginnings in Dominican Republic, and his hard slog to get to the top. “It’s a lot of hard work and dedication, but the best thing is to listen to your parents and your coaches - they are always right,” he advised.

He was impressed by the size and extent of Israel Baseball. “I hope that all of you make it to the big leagues,” he told the players. “Before I came here, I thought maybe there would be about 200 people playing baseball, so it’s great to see all of you here,” he said, hinting at the nearly 1,000 players in Israel today. “I was also very impressed with Team Israel in the World Baseball Classic this year.”

Robinson boasts a significant list of achievements in his 12-year major league baseball career that began with his debut with the New York Yankees in 2005 at age 22. He has been an eight-time All Star, was the 2017 All Star MVP, won the Home Run Derby in 2016, is a two-time Gold Glove and five-time Silver Slugger winner, was MVP in the Dominican Republic's 2013 World Baseball Classic championship winning team, and he was a member of 2009 World Series championship team.

After chatting with the players, Robinson, along with his father, Jose, who pitched for the Houston Astros in 1989, his younger brother Joselito, a pitcher in the Mariner’s organization’s Everett AquaSox, and cousin, Burt Reynolds, an outfielder for the Mariners’ Clinton Lumber Kings, took batting practice on the field. After they all put up an impressive performance, Robinson requested to see some of our players batting skills. Assaf Lowengart, a member of the Israel Baseball Senior National Team, who had hit an impressive home run the previous week during the Premier League championship game for the Ra’anana Raiders, impressed the visitors with a strong performance, topped by a final effort that sent the ball over the fence. Next up, Noam Calisar, also a member of the Israel Baseball Senior National Team, put one over the fence as well.

Senior National Team member Alon Leichman, who is the Coordinator of Organizational Learning for the Seattle Mariners' player development program, was home in Israel for a visit and was on hand to throw BP for the Cano family.

When he first arrived, Robinson promised to be with us for up to half an hour, but over an hour later, he was still happily signing autographs for every player and smiling for a barrage of selfies. He and his family left after spending nearly an hour and a half with us. Immediately after leaving, he posted video clips of his visit to the practice on his Instagram page, and sources close to the family report that he had a great time with the players.

View the embedded image gallery online at:
http://www.baseball.org.il/en/news-blogs/news#sigProIdd2c05b3453

Don't have an account yet? Register Now!

Sign in to your account