A group of 11 Major League Baseball players and former Major League stars will be visiting Israel from January 3-10. The players are members of the Team Israel baseball team that will play in the World Baseball Classic (WBC) tournament in March 2017 in Seoul, South Korea. The team won its place in the tournament by qualifying at a tournament in Brooklyn, New York in September.
The players who will be visiting Israel are: Danny Valencia, Sam Fuld, Ty Kelly, Ike Davis, Ryan Lavarnway, Josh Zeid, Cody Decker, Jon Moscot, Corey Baker, Jeremy Bleich and Gabe Kapler.
According to the rules of the WBC, players who are eligible for citizenship of a country are allowed to play on that country’s team. As a result, Jewish baseball players are eligible to play on Team Israel. This will be the first time that American Jewish baseball players represent Team Israel in a world championship.
The team will visit tour Israel, including visiting the holy sites in Jerusalem, an air force base, Masada and the Dead Sea. They will also spend time meeting the local Israeli baseball players of the Israel Association of Baseball, and will have practices for the tournament. An event will be held on January 5 at the Baptist Village at 16:00 where members of the IAB can come to meet the players and watch them practice. Details to follow.
The group will be accompanied by a film crew that will make a documentary of the trip called “Heading Home”.
“This is an extremely exciting event for Israel baseball in particular and for sport in Israel in general,” says Peter Kurz, President of the Israel Association of Baseball. “The team is clearly the most impressive Jewish sports team ever assembled, and we are very proud that they will be representing Israel at the WBC. This trip will be an excellent opportunity for them to learn about Israel and meet the teams and players in Israel that will be supporting them at the WBC.”
The trip is sponsored by JNF Project Baseball, Jeff Aeder, founder of the Jewish Baseball Museum and other donors.