U12 NT

Tryouts for the under 12 National Team will take place from March 21. Tryouts for the 2017 Israel National Under 12 team are open to players born between 2005 and 2007.
Tryouts are only open to Juvenile players who are registered members of the IAB. The national team will practice until the summer.
The tryouts will take place on Tuesday March 21 from 18:00-20:00 at Kibbutz Gezer and on Wednesday March 29 at the Sportek in Tel Aviv from 17:00-19:00.
For players not participating in the Enrichment Program, the cost of the tryouts is 100 NIS - payable in cash at the tryouts. Tryouts are free for players participating in the Enrichment Program.
The Under 12 National Team will likely play in the Tuscany Series tournament in Italy in July.
What to bring
All players need to arrive at the tryouts with a hat, proper uniform, ‎baseball shoes, regular sports shoes (for the batting cage) and water.‎
Don't miss out on this opportunity to play for Team Israel!

Israel vs Cuba

Team Israel defeated Cuba, 4-1, in Game 1 of Pool E yesterday at Tokyo Dome. The win marked the Israel's fourth straight victory (4-0) in the 2017 WBC. Cuba opened the scoring with one run in the second inning, marking the first time Israel trailed in the WBC tournament (29 innings). Israel countered with a run of its own in the fourth frame (RBI double by Ryan Lavarnway), and two runs in the sixth frame. The club tacked on an insurance run in the eighth inning to complete the scoring. Lavarnway finished 2-for-4 with a double and RBI, Blake Gailen (1/2, 2B, 1 BB, 1 SH) posted two RBI and Zach Borenstein the go-ahead RBI in the sixth inning. Starter Jason Marquis pitched 5.2 innings (4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 HR, 1 BB, 4 SO, 1 HB), throwing 69 pitched, 45 strikes…Zack Thornton (1.1 IP, 1 SO) picked up the win and Josh Zeid (1.1 IP, 1 BB, 2 SO) the save.WBC Ryan MVP
Before the game, Catcher Ryan Lavarnway was presented with the award for MVP of Pool A in Round 1. 
Team Israel plays Team Netherlands this evening, March 13, in Tokyo at 7pm (12:00 Israel time, 5am ET)

 

Team Israel

Team Israel shocked the baseball world when it swept Pool A of the WBC by beating Korea, Chinese Taipei and Netherlands in Seoul, South Korea. This makes Israel the first team to not lose a game in the first round of the WBC after qualifying for the tournament. Next, the team plays the second round in Tokyo.

History has been made by what is clearly the greatest Jewish sports team in history. With the rules of the WBC stating that any player who is eligible to become a citizen of a country, all teams are able to bring on players who may not necessarily live in the country they are representing or have citizenship. “If you look at all the teams from countries like Netherlands, Italy or Israel, they are like an ingathering of exiles,” says Peter Kurz, Israel Association of Baseball President and General Manager of Team Israel at the WBC.

While to some outsiders this rule may be controversial, the logic is sound. Major League Baseball, in its efforts to spread baseball to all parts of the world, created the WBC tournament to encourage the sport in countries where baseball is less popular. In order to create a more even playing field for the competition, the MLB sought to ensure that American players with foreign heritages could play for those countries.

“In our case,” explains Peter, “anyone who has at least one Jewish grandparent is eligible to play on Team Israel. For us, this means that from the sports perspective we could put together a very competitive team, but from the personal perspective, we have done something even more significant: We have lit a Zionist flame in a group of 28 professional baseball players whose hearts are now in Israel.”

“As Americans, to be able to represent Israel, which in turn represents the worldwide group of Jewish people, is something extremely special,” said Team Israel first baseman Nate Freiman at the post-game press conference after the win against Netherlands. “We hope that this jump starts the program in Israel, and that someday there are Israelis playing on this team.” 

Ten members of the team flew to Israel in January and met with young baseball players and toured the country to learn about their heritage and history. They instantly became positive ambassadors for Israel, sending out Tweets and social media posts that were great advertisements for the positives that Israel has to offer. On this first day in Tel Aviv, Cody Decker tweeted: “Tel Aviv. We’re home.” When he got to Jerusalem, he tweeted: “As far as views go, this one is on my top 5 list ever…Jerusalem is beautiful”. Sam Fuld summed up his trip saying: “From the Mediterranean to the Dead (Sea), the Western Wall to graffiti wall, Masada to sabbaba, what a trip.” On the last day of the trip, Zeid tweeted: “One of the best weeks ever. Doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re from, Israel is an incredible, must see experience.”

“They left their hearts in Israel,” says Kurz. The trip only served to increase their commitment to wearing “Israel” across their chests in this international competition. They wear the team jersey with the greatest pride and remove their baseball hats before the singing of Hatikvah to reveal Israel Baseball kippot with which they show their deep identity with Israel and the Jewish nation.

“This team and this tournament has deepened cooperation between the American Jewish community and Israel via these players who have put their careers on hold, and have left their families to fly halfway around the world to represent Israel on the world stage. They have faced the powerhouses of world baseball and come out victorious and they are helping to build the sport of baseball in Israel.”

The pride at being part of this great endeavor is clearly felt from each member of the team.  For many of them, their participation in Team Israel is part of a chronology of Jewish history. “Two generations ago, we were being killed, being picked out just because of our lineage,” said Team Israel catcher Ryan Lavarnway at the post-game press conference after the win against Chinse Taipei. “But two generations later, for us to be able to stand up here and to have the Israeli flag and the Jewish star hanging in the stadium means a lot to a lot of people around the world. We’re here, we’re competing in a sport on the highest level, and we have the right to be here.”

For Kurz, who worked tirelessly to put together a team with the greatest chance of taking Israel as far into the tournament as possible, this is just a first of many steps. “With the involvement of these great Jewish athletes, we are well on the way to making baseball one of the top team sports in Israel and the pride of every Jewish sports fan all over the world.”

Team Israel WBC

Team Israel plays its first game of the World Baseball Classic against Team Korea today at the Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul, South Korea. Right handed pitcher, Jason Marquis is scheduled to start the game for Israel.

Games can be seen live on Fox Sports, MLB Network, and will be streamed on www.worldbaseballclassic.com:

Monday, March 6: Korea vs Israel - 11:30 (Israel Time); 4:30am (Eastern Time)

Tuesday, March 7: Taipei vs Israel - 05:30 (Israel Time); 10:30pm (Eastern Time - March 6)

Thursday, March 8: Netherlands vs Israel - 05:30 (Israel Tןme); 10:30pm (Eastern Time - March 7)

 

 

 

 

 

Mensch on a Bench

The Mensch on a Bench (AKA the Mensch or Menschi) burst onto the Israel Baseball scene in September last year at the WBC qualifiers in Brooklyn, New York. His stuffed, tallised* and behatted presence was a major factor in Team Israel’s decisive win in the qualifiers that earned the team a place in the WBC tournament in March. In spite of his very full schedule in Seoul, South Korea, where he is planning to continue to work his magic on Team Israel in the first round of the tournament, the Mensch agreed to take a few minutes to talk to us in this exclusive interview.

How did your relationship with Team Israel begin?

I was recruited by Team Israel player Cody Decker. He was insightful enough to understand that in spite of my inability to swing a bat or to throw a ball, I had other talents that would bring significant value to the team. My expertise lies in bench warming, hence my name. He knew that my presence on the Team Israel bench, on my "Mensch bench", would be a mitzvah and a brocha all in one. So, he contacted my agent, Amazon.com, and one rather uncomfortable journey to Brooklyn in a carboard box later, the rest is history. 

So, you’re the Team Israel mascot?

I would not put it that way. I don’t approve of all that dancing around on the field. That’s for the youngsters. I’m more of a spiritual advisor and all around friend. I offer a shoulder to lean on and at a push, a pillow if you’re need one. I’m also a very good listener. 

What did you do in Brooklyn to ensure the win?

I can’t reveal all my magic, otherwise every other so-called Mensch will try (unsuccessfully) to replicate what I do, without doubt. What I will reveal is that it had a lot to do with the bottle of Manischewitz kiddish wine that was constantly by my side. The power is in the grape. The fact that I was also given my own locker in the club house, also increased my powers. 

What were your challenges in Brooklyn?

Occasionally one of the players would sit on me by mistake when I was in the dugout - a mensch on a mensch on a bench on a bench. That hurt. They are big, muscular Yidden. They didn’t make us mensches like that back in my day. Now they’re gezunt!

Back then, I was a shadow of my current self – as you can see I have now increased significantly in size thanks to Cody’s powers and an adherence to the Team Israel workout plan. So, I am back and ready to dominate at the WBC.

For the first time in your life, you have left the US. What’s it like being in Korea?

It’s really difficult to find a good bowl of matza ball soup here. I’ve tried, but they keep offering me this kimchi chazerai. I don’t know about you, but by me, a pickle needs to be a cucumber with salt and dill, and accompanied by a good corned beef sandwich. I’m not sure about this spicy cabbage pickle, but who knows, I may give it a go if I start chalishing for a good nosh. 

I did get to drink some delicious flavored soda from our good friends and team sponsors SodaStream. It was nice to make a le'chayim with them. Lovely people!

How have the locals accepted you?

They are very excited about me. Everyone stops by to say hello – more than my children do – they don’t call, they don’t visit… The locals call me Menschi! Maybe because it rhymes with Kimchi. I don’t know.

Who are the players that you have your eye on in Team Israel?

I’m a mensch, so by definition, as good person, I can’t play favorites. Obviously, I have my eye on Cody because without him, what would I be? Certainly not a Mensch on Bench on the Team Israel bench in Korea. What I will say is that we have 28 mensches who all know a thing or two about baseball. They hit good, they pitch good, they catch good, and please God, they’ll win good, tfu, tfu, tfu

What do you plan on taking back home with you?

Hopefully some very good memories of a very successful tournament and maybe a few tchochkies from the local markets. 

 

*Glossary:

Tallis - Prayer shawl

Mitzvah – good deed

Brocha - blessing

Kiddish – blessing over wine

Yidden - Jews

Gezunt - healthy, substantial

Chazerai - junk

Chalishing – dying

Tchochkies – knick knacks

Le'chayim - a toast, to life

Tfu, tfu, tfu - spitting three times to ward off the evil eye

And Mensch, of course, is good person

 

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