Israel's national baseball team will visit Dunkin Donuts Park during its pre-Olympic camp
TEL AVIV – Israel's national baseball team will play two games at Dunkin Donuts Park in Hartford, Connecticut, this summer as part of its pre-Olympic training camp. Team Israel will face the Bristol Blues on Wednesday, July 14, and the Ocean State Waves on Thursday, July 15. Both games will be early starts with the first pitch set for 10:30 a.m. The Blues and Waves are members of the New England Collegiate Baseball League.
Josh Solomon, the owner of the Hartford Yard Goats, who call Dunkin Donuts Park home, has partnered with Team Israel to help make these games happen. The Yard Goats are the AA-affiliate of the Colorado Rockies.
"We're delighted to be able to spend some time in Hartford during our Olympic preparations," Team Israel GM Peter Kurz said. "I want to thank Josh Solomon for helping make this happen. Josh has been a true friend of Israel Baseball and has donated generously to our cause. I know he was planning to be in Tokyo to cheer us on in person and since that can't happen, playing two games on his turf is the next best thing."
The games in Hartford will be a homecoming of sorts for several Team Israel players, including infielder Scott Burcham, who played for the Yard Goats during the 2018 and 2019 seasons.
"I’ve been extremely fortunate to be able to play in Hartford in the minor leagues," Burcham said of his time with the Yard Goats. "Dunkin Donuts Park is one of the nicest facilities in the country, from the playing surface to the locker rooms. Not to mention the fans bring the electricity every single night."
There have also been several Team Israel players who competed in the New England Collegiate Baseball League. Josh Zeid played for the Torrington Twisters in 2006, Ryan Lavarnway for the Manchester Silkworms in 2007, Alex Katz for the Danbury Westerners in 2014, Jeremy Wolf for the Newport Gulls and Simon Rosenbaum for the Vermont Mountaineers in 2015, and Ben Wanger for the Valley Blue Sox in 2018.
Team Israel will have as many as 28 players in total plus some of the top local talents of the next generation to expose them to a training camp atmosphere. The roster is ripe with players known to baseball fans in the United States; there are seven players with previous Major League Baseball experience plus several current minor league players.
Team Israel will compete in baseball at the Olympic Games for the first time. It is the first team to represent Israel at the Olympic Games since 1976 when Israel's national soccer team played in Montreal. The six-team Olympic Baseball Tournament will run from July 28 through August 7.