Israel's national baseball team will visit Lancaster, Pennsylvania, as part of its pre-Olympic training camp this summer. The Lancaster Barnstormers will host Team Israel for a game against the Susquehanna Valley Stars at Clipper Magazine Stadium on Saturday, July 17. First pitch is scheduled for noon. Tickets will go on sale to the public at lancasterbarnstormers.com on Monday, May 17 at 1000 am ET.
The Susquehanna League is an established twilight league, dating back to 1935. It is comprised of eight teams in York County (Conrads, East Prospect, Felton, Hallam, Jacobus, Stewartstown, Windsor, and York Township) who compete in a 34-game schedule. The Susquehanna Valley Stars will also feature collegiate players from the Pennsylvania State University Athletic Conference.
The game is one of nine that Team Israel will play in the United States during its training camp. Games against the New York Boulders in Pomona, New York, on Monday, July 12 and against the Bristol Blues and Ocean State Waves in Hartford, Connecticut, on Wednesday-Thursday, July 14-15, have already been announced. More games will be revealed in the coming days.
“I am very excited to come back to Lancaster, which is a great baseball town. I have such fond memories of my time working in the Barnstormers front office during our 2006 title run,” Adam Gladstone, Team Israel's Assistant GM and Director of Baseball Operations. “We are grateful to the Barnstormers management team for helping to make this possible. A special thanks goes to my old friend Jeff Barkdoll, who was part of our coaching staff at the York Revolution, for putting together and managing the Susquehanna Valley Stars. I am sure it will be a memorable afternoon for all the fans who come out.”
“We are excited to host Team Israel at Clipper Magazine Stadium as they prepare for the 2021 Olympics,” Barnstormers GM Michael Reynolds said. “We feel this is a great opportunity and experience for all of the Central Pennsylvania community. Especially for our Barnstormers fans who will have the opportunity to see Blake Gailen and Jared Lakind before they head to Japan with their Team Israel teammates.”
The game will be a homecoming of sorts for the aforementioned Team Israel players who also play for the Barnstormers in the Atlantic League. Gailen is a club legend and the Barnstormers' all-time home run leader and this season will be Lakind's third in a Lancaster uniform.
“Lancaster has been my summer home for about half my career,” Gailen said. “The fans and the city are always so supportive of whatever route I take and they are always a part of my journey. It will be a cool experience playing in front of those loyal fans wearing Israel across my chest, as they were there when my Team Israel journey began. It’s almost a sort of homage to be able to suit up for Israel at Clipper Magazine Stadium as kind of a hat tip to the fans and the city.”
Team Israel will have as many as 28 players in total plus some of the top local talents of the next generation on its training camp roster. The team 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.