This September, the last spot in the 2017 World Baseball Classic field of 16 nations fell to Israel as Israeli Baseball won a tournament in Brooklyn, New York over teams from Brazil, Britain and Pakistan.
Israel can play ball. The Israeli national team narrowly missed qualifying for the World Championships in 2012 and neither the 2012 roster, which nearly gained the finals, nor the current triumphant qualifiers were just some charmed pickup squads.
Israel’s roster includes 20 Major League Baseball-affiliated minor-leaguers, making up 86% of the team, more than any other team in the qualifiers… (Israel at the 2017 WBC)
The 2016 version of Team Israel was assembled by Peter Kurz (President of the Israel Association of Baseball), with an informal team of baseball scouts and experts of Jewish baseball, including Scott Barancik (Jewish Baseball News) and Ephraim Moxson and Shel Wallman (Jewish Sports Review).
How proud of Israel’s accomplishment Hank Greenberg, the famed “Hebrew Hammer,” member of the Baseball Hall of Fame and one of the most feared sluggers of his generation would have been. But, as always seems the case in these latter days in Israel, there’s much more to the story.