Ten Jewish Major League Baseball players and their families are visiting Israel this week, ahead of the upcoming World Baseball Classic, where they will play for the Israeli team. Israel will be making its first appearance in the international Baseball tournament. This will mark the first time Jewish-American athletes play for Israel in a world championship. WBC rules state that players who are eligible for citizenship of a given country may play on that country’s team.
On Thursday, the Jewish-American-Israeli team and its coaches and managers visited the Tel Nof Israeli Air Force Base, near Rehovot and took a group shot with some pilots and crew.
The Jewish players’ visit at the IA base was organized by Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) and led by Jeff Aeder, founder of the Jewish Baseball Museum. The players met and spoke with the fighter pilots who protect Israel’s skies.
The visiting players included former NY Met Ike Davis; NY Mets current players Ty Kelly and Josh Zeid; Oakland Athletics players Ryan Lavarnway and Sam Fuld; Boston Red Sox player Cody Decker; Cincinnati Reds player Jon Moscot; St. Louis Cardinals player Corey Baker; Philadelphia Phillies player Jeremy Bleich; and Los Angeles Dodgers Director of Player Development Gabe Kapler.
The first-round hosts of the WBC will be Tokyo, Seoul, Miami, and Guadalajara. The second round hosts will be Tokyo and San Diego, and the championship round will be played in Los Angeles.
“These ten Jewish baseball players are visiting Israel for the first time to celebrate the fact that they’ve qualified for the World Baseball Classic,” Aeder said. “I thought this would be a wonderful opportunity to expose them to the country and for them to meet some of the brave men and women who defend Israel and Jews everywhere, and derive pride from the Jewish State’s ability to defend itself.”
During their tour of Israel, the ten players and staff practiced on baseball fields and met with Israel Association of Baseball players. They also visited some of Israel’s landmarks and holy sites.
It should be noted that the WBC games feature mercy rules, whereby games are called if one team is ahead by 10 or more runs when the opposing team has batted in at least seven innings, or 15 or more runs when the opposing team has batted in at least five innings.
Mercy rules do not apply during the championship round.