The WBC Qualifiers begin in Brooklyn, New York on September 22. Two Israel Senior National Team veterans, Dean Kremer and Shlomo Lipetz chatted to us about themselves and the team.
Tell us a little about yourself
Dean Kremer: I was born and raised in Stockton California to Israeli parents. I started playing baseball at the local Little League at the age of five but started my pitching career in college. After graduating from Lincoln High School, I attended San Joaquin Delta College where I became a pitcher. Last year I was drafted by the San Diego Padres in round 38 but I chose to continue with my college career. As a sophomore I attended UNLV where I played for the Rebels as a starting pitcher. In June this year I was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 14th round. I started with the Ogden Raptors and am currently playing for the Great Lakes Loons. I am the oldest of three brothers, Ron 18 who lives in Israel, and Niv who is at high school in Stockton. Although all of us were born in the US, my family and I spend most of our summers in Israel visiting family. Having dual citizenship, US and Israeli, I am able to represent Israel’s Senior Nation Team. I am fluent in Hebrew and love helping the growth of baseball in Israel.
Shlomo Lipetz: I was born and raised in Israel, and I’ve been very involved in baseball in Israel from the start. I grew up in Tel Aviv and was part of the Tel Aviv Tigers club from the age of ten. I’ve been a member of Israel national teams for 27 years. I was the first player to join the outstanding athlete program of the IDF, which allowed me to continue to play baseball during my military service. I played college ball, walking on at San Diego Mesa collage and then I went on to play on a scholarship on one of the leading D2 teams in the nation UCSD. I played on the Netayna Tigers in the professional Israel Baseball League in its one and only season in 2007. I continued to play a short pro season in Mexico and in a few semi-pro leagues around the US. I live and plays in Brooklyn and continue to play semi-pro in the Pedrin Zorrilla Baseball League. This is my second time playing for team Israel in the WBC qualifier. In 2012 I was the first Israeli-born player to make a pitching appearance against the South African national team.
What do you think about the team Israel roster?
SL: Nothing like it. One would argue it even overshadows last qualifiers. The roster is full of talent that I am sure we will see playing in the big leagues sooner than later.
DK: After looking at the roster and seeing all the big names, I am very excited to play on this team and meet everyone.
How do you feel about representing Israel on the baseball field?
DK: It will be a dream come true to represent Israel on this big stage.
SL: Nothing like it. I am proud and excited to represent my country in the highest stage of baseball.
What is your connection with Israel?
SL: I was born and raised in Tel Aviv. Israel is where I picked up my first baseball, where I swung my first bat, where I pitched my first pitch.
DK: I’m born to Israeli parents and go I back to visit my family in the summers. I speak fluent Hebrew, which has helped me whenever I’ve been in Israel, coaching at the Israel Baseball summer camps and visiting local schools to promote baseball. I’ve also played for the Israel Senior National Team in two European championship tournaments, including winning the C-Pool of the Confederation of European Baseball championship two years ago.
What are you most looking forward to playing for Team Israel?
DK: I'm honored to represent a country that is like a second home to me in the game that I love most.
SL: I am looking forward to being able to connect with not only our team but to connect with a full stadium of people who feel a strong connection to both baseball and being Jewish. Nothing better!
How do you rate the chances of team Israel in the qualifier?
SL: I like our chances. But it comes down to who wants it more...and who has a better tournament. On paper we have a great chance to win it all, but at this level of competition, every team can beat every team on any given day. One thing for sure, it’s going to be interesting.
DK: I think we have a really good chance looking at the roster that the staff has put together.