Wednesday, March 29th | 8 Nisan 5783

March 3, 2023 10:31 am

Play Ball: Israel’s Baseball Miracle Continues with World Baseball Classic

× [contact-form-7 404 "Not Found"]

avatar by David Wiseman


Jeremy Bleich pitching for Team Israel. Photo: Margo Sugerman/Israel Baseball.

There are sporting miracles, and then there is the Israel National Baseball team.

In 2012, the team was trying to qualify for the World Baseball Classic for the first time and took on Spain for a precious spot. Unfortunately, the Israeli team lost to Spain in extra innings.

In 2017, the team successfully qualified for the World Baseball Classic. This time it was successful, defeating Great Britain for that elusive spot.

As the 2017 World Baseball Classic approached, there was a mixture of nerves and excitement. Then, the unexpected happened. In the opening match, Israel defeated the third-ranked South Korea team, following it up with wins against the fourth-ranked Chinese Taipei and ninth-ranked Netherlands.

Related coverage

March 29, 2023 11:17 am

A Message From Campus: Judaism Can’t Exist Without Zionism

Not long ago, while walking through George Washington University’s campus, I came across several posters with headlines that read “Judaism...

Not only did Israel make it to the second round, but did so undefeated! It then defeated fifth-ranked Cuba before losing to the Dutch and the top-ranked Japanese.

This was a David and Goliath situation. Israel was the first qualifier to win a second-round match at the World Baseball Classic. So what could Israel do to top it? How about being just one of five teams in the world to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, joining host country Japan in the six-team tournament?

When Israel defeated South Africa in September 2019, it became the first Israeli team in a ball sport to qualify for the Olympics since the 1976 men’s soccer team. At the Olympics, it lost to both the US and South Korea in pool play. Israel then defeated Mexico, which was its only win at the Olympics. Another loss to South Korea set up an elimination match against the Dominican Republic. Taking a 6-5 lead into the bottom of the ninth inning, Israel lost 7-6, finishing in fifth place.

And now we find ourselves back at the World Baseball Classic, the tournament where it all began six years ago. There is a lot of anticipation — not just to see how Israel does this time, but also because Israel’s opening matches are in Miami, where it should receive significant fan support.

Israel is in Pool D with Puerto Rico, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, and Nicaragua — easily the toughest of the four pools. Israel has assembled a fantastic roster and is managed by Ian Kinsler, who played for Israel at the 2020 Olympics.

Forget about nerves, this time it’s all excitement and we can’t wait to watch them. Play ball!

David Wiseman is the co-founder of Follow Team Israel, a page devoted to sharing the stories of Israeli and Jewish sport with the world. 

The opinions presented by Algemeiner bloggers are solely theirs and do not represent those of The Algemeiner, its publishers or editors. If you would like to share your views with a blog post on The Algemeiner, please be in touch through our Contact page.

Share this Story: Share On Facebook Share On Twitter

Let your voice be heard!

Join the Algemeiner

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.