Manager of Israel’s National Baseball Team Says ‘Mensch on Bench’ Mascot Will Accompany Players to Championship in Korea
The manager of Israel’s national baseball team told The Algemeiner on Monday that he has approved the inclusion of a popular Hanukkah toy on the team’s trip to South Korea for the 2017 World Baseball Classic (WBC) — as long as the doll doesn’t require its own seat on the plane.
Jerry Weinstein was referring to a claim made by star player Cory Decker on Sunday at a post-game press conference that he intends to bring his “Mensch on a Bench” doll to the WBC, slated to take place in March in Seoul.
“Decker is the man,” Weinstein said. “He leads this team. Whatever he wants, he gets. [But] hopefully we won’t have to buy a seat on the plane next to Decker for the Mensch.”
The toy, a Jewish take on the legendary “Elf on a Shelf” Christmas doll, sat in front of Decker at the press conference, held after Team Israel won a qualifying match against Great Britain, earning it a spot in the WBC. The Jewish state was the final national team to qualify for the WBC, along with Australia, Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, Colombia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Italy, Japan, Korea, Kingdom of the Netherlands, Mexico, Puerto Rico, the United States and Venezuela.
The WBC qualifiers took place in Brooklyn, and Decker, an American Jew, said he rush-ordered the “Mensch on a Bench” from Amazon, so that it would be with the team in New York for the games, SportingNews.com reported. The doll was also included in a post-game celebration on the field after the team’s win on Sunday night.
When asked at the Sunday press conference about the toy’s backstory, Decker — who also has one at his home in California — offered to lend the questioner the book that accompanies all “Mensch on the Bench” purchases.
“But I want it back,” he said of the hardcover title that tells the story of Hanukkah and features “Moshe the Mensch” guarding the lights of the menorah candelabra in the ancient Jewish Temple.