Eric Holtz was recently named the head coach of the Israel Senior National Team that will be playing in Pool B of the European Championships in July in Belgrade, Serbia.
He was born and raised in the Bronx in New York and currently lives in White Plains, New York. At the age of 11, Eric’s father passed away, and this drew him deeply into baseball. “Baseball, and all my great coaches and managers took me in as part of their own families to make sure that I was O.K.,” Eric recalls. “My dad used to tell me stories of watching Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth play and I fell in love with the game.” Eric played baseball from the age of 6 till he was 18.
When he got to college, he disliked his coach so much that he quit baseball until he was 34-years-old and married with kids. “I got involved with baseball again and I’ve never looked back.” Eric coached at Manhattanville College from 2004 to 2007 and then at Westchester Community College from 2008 to 2015. He has played in independent leagues all over the US and currently plays in two leagues when time permits. “I just got back from a men's tournament in Florida where I went 8 for 14 in 4 games.”
A father of three, Eric has instilled his love for baseball in his children. “I’ve been extremely lucky and proud to watch all three of my kids follow in my passion: having Jordan pitch at Bucknell University, Sydni currently playing at NYU and Brett committed to play at Columbia next fall where he will try to take over a position played by my Dad's idol Lou Gehrig #4.”
“Israel is Magical to Me”
Eric had his Bar Mitzvah in 1978 at the Western Wall. It wasn't until 2007 that he returned to Israel, this time with the now defunct Israel Baseball League (IBL) as a 41-year-old rookie Player/Coach. “Those nine weeks in Israel were amazing,” he recalls. “The history, the people - my people, the culture, the food. The passion is like a magnet that keeps bringing me back.” That magnet drew him back six years later for the 2013 Maccabiah. “Nate (Fish) asked me to be his assistant coach for the USA Maccabi baseball team. This gave me another excuse to get back to the Holy Land.”
As a true friend of Israel, Israel Baseball, and a dedicated baseball coach, Eric was a natural choice as head coach for the Senior National Team. “Being asked to coach the SNT was somewhat breath-taking,” Eric enthuses. “I was overwhelmed with emotion as it’s not like any other position of employment or any other position in baseball. You're being recognized for doing something well, and it made me incredibly proud. I now have another opportunity to be part of the Israel and I get to represent the Mother Land. I cannot explain the pride I feel.”
Before he puts on his Team Israel Coach hat, Eric will once again be back in Israel as the Team USA coach for the 2017 Maccabiah. He’s undaunted by the challenge of coaching a team that will be playing against the Under 18 Team Israel in the Maccabiah and then immediately after, coaching the Israel Senior National Team for the European Championships. “It will be fine and a smooth transition as I will be strictly business on the field until the Maccabiah is over, and then my Royal Blue hat will go forth. I think that my passion, knowledge and experience of playing as well as coaching will help Team Israel explicitly.”
Eric will work hard to instill his personal credo into the team. “What I live by is, attitude and effort are the two things we control in our lives every day so there is no reason to have a bad one of either.”
What Eric most looks forward to is “being associated with Israel, representing her and trying like hell to bring her a Trophy.” A win in the B Pool of the championships will earn Team Israel a coveted spot in the European Championships’ A Pool for 2018.