TEL AVIV – Team Israel General Manager Peter Kurz has submitted an expanded roster of 44 players to the World Baseball Softball Confederation from which the 24-man traveling roster for the Olympic Games will be selected. The WBSC is baseball's global governing body and the organizer of the baseball competition at the Olympic Games.  

Israel's roster includes all 24 players from the team that clinched Israel’s Olympic berth by winning the WBSC Baseball Europe/Africa Olympic Qualifier in September 2019 in Italy. There are 12 players who return from Israel's entry at the 2017 World Baseball Classic, which reached the quarterfinals. The next generation of Israeli baseball players is also represented with six players who helped Israel finish in first place at the European Championship U18 Qualifier in 2019 in Sweden.

Alongside nine players who have played in the Major Leagues are four players who are currently serving in the Israel Defense Forces under the distinguished athlete designation and three more who will be drafted in the same class in the coming year.

Team Israel will have its first training camp in May in Arizona and will then meet again in early July in New York, where it will play a series of exhibition games before flying to Tokyo for the Olympics.

Team Israel's expanded roster for the 2021 Olympic Games:  

Pitchers (21): Jeremy Bleich (Major League Analyst, Pittsburgh Pirates) , Eric Brodkowitz (Idaho Falls Chukars), Gabe Cramer (free agent), Jonathan deMarte (free agent), Jake Fishman (Miami Marlins),  Alex Katz (free agent), Dean Kremer (Baltimore Orioles), Jared Lakind (Lancaster Barnstormers), Alon Leichman (coach, Seattle Mariners), Shlomo Lipetz (free agent), Shlomo Lipman (Jerusalem Lions), Ivri Margolin (Team Misgav), Jon Moscot (free agent), Ido Peled (Ra'anana Raiders), Dean Pelman (free agent), David Sharabi (Sioux Falls Canaries), Matt Soren (free agent), Joey Wagman (Temp Praha), Ben Wanger (University of Miami), Zack Weiss (Kansas City Monarchs), Josh Zeid (coach, Chicago Cubs).

Catchers (3): Tal Erel (Lynn University), Ryan Lavarnway (Cleveland Indians), Nick Rickles (free agent).

Infielders (12): Shaked Baruch (Ra'anana Raiders), Scott Burcham (Colorado Rockies), Mitch Glasser (free agent), Itai Goldner (Tel Aviv Comrades), Kai Friesem (Ra'anana Raiders), Ty Kelly (Long Island Ducks), Ian Kinsler (free agent), Assaf Lowengart (Mansfield University), Zev Moore (Jerusalem Lions), Zach Penprase (New York Boulders), Simon Rosenbaum (coach, Tampa Bay Rays), Danny Valencia (free agent).

Outfielders (8): Natan Bash (Ra'anana Raiders), Noam Calisar (Ryukyu Blue Ocean), Blake Gailen (Lancaster Barnstormers), David Ibn Ezra (Bay College), Robb Paller (Lake Erie Crushers), Jake Rosenberg (Narbeth), Uri Shani (Tel Aviv Comrades), Jeremy Wolf (Lake Erie Crushers).   


Dubai, UAE January 19, 2021 – The Dubai Little League and Israel Association of Baseball are proud to announce the establishment of the Field of Peace Tournament. 

The baseball tournament will feature the 12-and-under National Teams of Israel and the United Arab Emirates competing in events in both Dubai and Israel in 2021. Invitations have also been extended to teams from other Gulf countries to participate. The teams will play for the Unity Cup. 

The first series of games will take place on March 21-25 at the Dubai Little League Park next to Al Quoz Pond Park. The teams will meet again in the fall of 2021 in Tel Aviv.  

"We are excited to enter a new era of cooperation between our organizations and countries," Dubai Little League President Roger Duthie and his IAB counterpart Jordy Alter said in a joint statement. "We strive together to develop the game of baseball in Israel and Dubai as a basis for peace and cooperation between our countries. We see this as a major step forward in both areas and are excited to jointly hold the first team sports tournament between our countries. We hope these games lead to further regional cooperation."

HE Saeed Mohammad Hareb, the Secretary General​ of the Dubai Sports Council said: "To have children play sports at their innocent level which represents more than sport is something that should be cherished. This event will help bound our two nations and I cannot think of anything better than to have children represent the bright future that we look forward to growing together. The Dubai Sports Council is proud to support this initiative which is a testament to the wonderful volunteers of the Dubai Little League and the Israel Association of Baseball." 

About Dubai Little League 

Dubai Little League has over 400 players playing baseball and softball in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. It is a volunteer-run, not-for-profit organization recognized by the Community Development Authority of Dubai. Founded in 1998, Dubai Little League has 7 age divisions ranging from ages 4 to 18. For further information about the Dubai Little league please contact 

About Israel Baseball

The Israel Association of Baseball was founded in 1986 and has overseen the growth of the sport in the country ever since, culminating with Team Israel's historic qualification for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. The IAB is a member of The Israel Olympic Committee, The Confederation of European‎Baseball (CEB), World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC), Major League Baseball International (MLBI), and Little League.‎

As part of the expansion of baseball activities in Israel, the IAB is building new fields and looks forward to the completion of the new Bet Shemesh complex, which will host international tournaments, as well as the Raanana field, which will be a joint baseball-soccer facility, both slated for 2021. There are also plans to expand the Sportek Tel Aviv field and to add lighting.  

For further information about the tournament, please contact the General Manager, Peter Kurz at  or


Dean Kremer Baltimore Orioles

Sunday was a dream-come-true for Israeli pitcher Dean Kremer—and for tens of thousands of fans of baseball in the Holy Land and around the world. Kremer, 24, became the first Israeli citizen by birth to play in the Major Leagues and his debut was a memorable one as he pitched a gem to lead his Baltimore Orioles to a 5-1 victory over the New York Yankees.

Kremer allowed just 1 run on 1 hit through 6 innings to claim the victory. He struck out 7, which was the most by an Orioles pitcher in his MLB debut in over two decades! With pitches reaching 96 miles per hour (155 kph), Kremer struck out the first two batters he faced. He ran into a little bit of trouble when the Yankees got their lone hit against him and scored in the second inning, but then Kremer retired 11 consecutive hitters and left the game after 6 innings with his team ahead 4-1.

"It is with tremendous pride that I watched as a product of our youth and adult national programs excelled in his Major League debut against the New York Yankees," Jordy Alter, the president of the Israeli Association of Baseball said. "We have watched Dean grow up as a member of our national teams, often outperforming our competition, and it was great to share this gift with the world tonight. The IAB and Israel Olympic team look forward to watching Dean in what promises to be a long and successful MLB career."

Kremer joined Team Israel catcher Ryan Lavarnway as the second Israeli citizen to play in the Major Leagues this season. They are the only Israelis to ever play in the Majors in the history of the game.



Today was the day that every Team Israel baseball player had marked on his calendar since September 22, 2019, when they danced off the field at Nino Cavalli Stadium in Parma, Italy, having clinched a berth at the 2020 Olympic Games. On Friday night, the 24 men on the Team Israel roster were to march into Tokyo's Olympic Stadium for the opening ceremonies, thus experiencing another dream-come-true in their collective Cinderella story. Days later, they would take the field for the first time and challenge for their ultimate goal, winning an Olympic medal.

Alas, the COVID-19 pandemic put those dreams on hold. The Summer Games were postponed by one year and will now begin on July 23, 2021. It has created an interesting dynamic for Team Israel's players. The group is still tight and gets together for regular Zoom calls, while each pursues his baseball path to ensure they will be in peak form when they get to Tokyo, which is no easy task in the wake of the virus, with lockdowns and league and team closures around the world. But they all know that baseball is secondary in the battle against the pandemic.

"At this time, my thoughts are that I’m happy that everyone is safe and healthy," Coach Eric Holtz shared earlier this week. "It’s an incredible shame that we will not be leaving for Tokyo as planned, but everyone will continue to train and remain ready for the first time the Umpire screams 'Play Ball'."

Coach Holtz’s players echoed their leader's sentiments, though each reflects on the fact that the games were scheduled to start now in his own way.

Danny Valencia: "It’s crazy to think we should be in Tokyo right now."

"It’s crazy to think we should be in Tokyo right now," said Danny Valencia, who with nine seasons in the Major Leagues is one of Team Israel's most accomplished players. "I try to envision what I’d feel like over there both in sport and with my family. I know we were all doing our part in being as prepared as possible to compete for a gold medal. I was feeling really good about how I felt in a baseball sense. Hopefully we can get past this pandemic and reset with clear minds and figure out how to be better than what we are today, come this time next July."

"It doesn’t feel real that today would have been the opening ceremonies. We’re so far removed and so much has happened. The thing I keep coming back to is that everyone all over the world has their own 'would have been' or 'supposed to' so I try to keep perspective and be thankful for the things we do have," the team's ace pitcher Joey Wagman said. "I cannot wait for next summer. It just adds another challenge for this team which has already overcome so many. It gives us another year to prepare in every way and represent Israel to the best of our abilities."

Blake Gailen: "It’s going to be one of the greatest experiences of all of our lifetimes and I can’t think of a better group to share that with."

Slugger Blake Gailen is one of the few who has already put the 2020 games out of his mind and is only looking forward: "It’s crazy how quickly we adapt because the notion of going to the Olympics this year slipped my mind once we knew for sure it was postponed. Once the Olympic committee made it official that the 2020 Olympics are going to be held in 2021, the first notion I had was obviously disappointment; But soon after was the awareness that there’s nothing we can do about it. As surreal as it’s been to qualify for the Olympics, it’s hard to imagine that a year from now we are going to be at the opening ceremonies," he said. "I'm fairly certain that I can speak for everyone in saying that there aren’t really words to describe the excitement and anticipation that are leading up to next year’s Olympic games. It’s not just about playing; it’s going to be one of the greatest experiences of all of our lifetimes and I can’t think of a better group to share that with."

The postponement of the games has been bittersweet for three of the best players Israel's local leagues have ever produced. Alon Leichman, a pitching coach in the Seattle Mariners system; and college baseball players Tal Erel and Asaf Lowengart, had their respective 2020 seasons in the United States taken away. However, that has opened the door for them to take on integral roles with the Israel Association of Baseball by playing in the local Premier League while coaching and mentoring the next generation of stars.

Alon Leichman: "I prefer to focus on the positives… I know that the one-year delay will only make the fire in our team burn stronger."

"I imagine that walking into the Olympic Stadium for the opening ceremonies will be one of the greatest moments of my athletic career," Leichman said. "I have an uneasy feeling when I think about the fact that we would be in Tokyo now under normal circumstances. However, I prefer to focus on the positives. I embrace the time I get to spend at home with my family and the time coaching and playing with the guys in Israel. I view this time as a unique opportunity to train in Israel and at the same time help get more exposure to the sport. It's been amazing. And I know that the one-year delay will only make the fire in our team burn stronger before we go to Japan next year."

No man has a deeper perspective on how far Israel baseball has come to be in the position it is now than team Israel GM Peter Kurtz: "Its been a long road to reach where we are today as Olympians, starting with the IBL in 2007, and continuing on to our three appearances in the World Baseball Classic and our frequent appearances in European Championship B and C Pool tournaments. The guys have played under insurmountable baseball conditions and to play in four tournaments last summer in a span of 10 weeks and come out as one of six Olympic teams was the highlight of my 20-year career with the IAB, so far.

"I look forward to the next chapter, and although it’s frustrating to wait an additional year, its something all Olympic athletes need to deal with. Our players are keyed up and aiming towards July 2021 and I have no doubt they will be ready. It's also given us an opportunity to improve the team, adding Ian Kinsler and WBC Team Israel alumni Ryan Lavarnway, who was our MVP in Korea in 2017, and Scotty Burcham, who got the winning hit against Korea in that tournament and played a stellar shortstop. It has also given us an extra year of fundraising for the IAB and our goal of developing fields all over Israel and increasing the number of players in Israel two, three and four-fold. It is for them that we are playing in the Olympics and I do hope that today there are kids playing in Beit Shemesh, Ra'anana and Tel Aviv who will be on the roster of the Israel Olympic Team in Los Angeles in 2028."

Gailen At The Bat

Gailen at the bat

Team Israel infielder Mitch Glasser recently penned this tribute to teammate Blake Gailen based on the famous "Casey at the Bat” poem written by Ernest Lawrence Thayer (1863-1940):

Gailen at the bat

The outlook wasn't brilliant for the Israeli nine that day:
The score stood four to two, with but one inning more to play,
And then when Kelly died at first, and Paller did the same,
A pall-like sheket fell upon the patrons of the game.

A straggling few got up to go in deep despair. The rest
Clung to HaTikvah which springs eternal in the human breast;
They thought, "If only Gailen could but get a whack at that—
We'd put up even shekels now, with Gailen at the bat."

Tal Erel preceded Gailen, as did Lowengart,
both young promising Sabras, a rally hoping to start;
So upon that stricken multitude grim melancholy sat,
For there seemed but little chance of Gailen getting to the bat.

And Erel let drive a single, to the wonderment of all,
And Assaf, the loved sportai, tore the cover off the ball;
And when the schmutz had lifted, Peter Kurz saw what occurred,
There was Assaf safe at second and Tal a-hugging third.

Then from five thousand throats and more there rose a lusty kvel;
It rumbled through the Golan, it rattled in the dell;
It pounded on the Sinai and recoiled upon Eilat,
For Gailen, mighty Gailen, was advancing to the bat.

There was ease in Gailen's manner as he stepped into his place;
There was pride in Gailen's bearing and a salty sameach lit Gailen's face.
And when, responding to the mishegas, he lightly doffed his kippa
No stranger in the crowd could doubt 'twas Gailen at the bima.

Ten thousand oy’ny’eem were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt;
Ten thousand yadayim applauded when he wiped them on his shirt;
Then while the writhing pitcher ground the ball into his hip,
Chutzpah flashed in Gailen's eye, a sneer curled Gailen's lip.

And now the leather matzah ball came hurtling through the air,
And Gailen stood a-watching it in haughty grandeur there.
Close by the sturdy batsman the ball unheeded sped—
"That ain't my schtick," said Blake. "Strike one!" the umpire said.

From the benches, black with anashim, there went up a muffled rar,
As loud as on Rosh Hashana the sounding of the shofar
"Kill him! Kill the umpire!" Kvetched Valencia from the bench;
And it's likely he’d have killed him had not Gailen been a mensch.

With a smile of Jewish tzedakah Gailen's visage shone;
He stilled the rising ruach; he bade the game go on;
He signaled to the pitcher, and once more the baseball flew;
But Blake still ignored it and the umpire said, "Strike two!"

"Shlemiel!" cried the plotzed thousands, and echo answered "Oy gavult!"
But one scornful look from Gailen and the audience was awed.
They saw his punim grow stern and cold, they saw his biceps strain,
And they knew that Blake wouldn't let that ball go by again.

The sneer is gone from Gailen's lip, his teeth are clenched in hate,
He pounds with cruel violence his bat upon the (seder) plate;
And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go,
And now the air is shattered by the force of Gailen's blow.

Oh, somewhere in this Chosen Land the sun is shining bright,
The klezmer is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light;
And somewhere men are at shul, somewhere kids are having fun,
Israelis watching anxiously - mighty Gailen has hit a ...

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