Israeli baseball supporters were afforded a rare treat on Thursday when 10 MLB players, who are all part of the Israel national team, practiced and met with young local players at the Baptist Village in Petah Tikva.
The visiting players, who are set to feature in Israel’s squad which will be competing in the World Baseball Classic in March in South Korea, are Ike Davis, formerly of the New York Mets and other teams; Ty Kelly of the Mets; Josh Zeid of the Mets organization; Ryan Lavarnway of the Oakland Athletics; Sam Fuld of the Athletics organization; Cody Decker of the Boston Red Sox organization; Jon Moscot of the Cincinnati Reds; Corey Baker of the St.
Louis Cardinals organization; Jeremy Bleich of the Philadelphia Phillies organization, and Gabe Kapler, the director of player development for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
World Baseball Classic rules state that players who are eligible for citizenship of a country may play on the country’s team.
Thursday’s event included the inauguration of a field in memory of Ezra Schwartz, the American yeshiva boy who was killed last year in a terrorist attack in Gush Etzion.
Many of the players are visiting Israel with their wives, parents and children. The trip’s co-sponsors include JNF Project Baseball and Jeff Aeder, founder of the Jewish Baseball Museum.
The delegation, which arrived on Wednesday, will visit Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and its holy sites, an Israeli Air Force base, Masada and the Dead Sea.
On Friday, the players will participate in the ground-breaking of the new baseball facility in Beit Shemesh. The facility will be built this year in collaboration with the Beit Shemesh Municipality and the JNF Project Baseball and Softball.
“This is an extremely exciting event for Israel baseball in particular and for sport in Israel in general,” said Peter Kurz, president of IAB. “The team is clearly the most impressive Jewish baseball team ever assembled, and we are very proud that they will be representing our country at the WBC. The trip will be an excellent opportunity for them to learn about Israel and meet the teams and players in Israel who will be supporting them at the WBC.”
Israel will play in Pool B at the World Baseball Classic, which features the national teams of Chinese Taipei, Korea and the Netherlands. Pool B is scheduled for March 7th-10th at the Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul, South Korea.