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Confederation of European Baseball

Thursday, February 23, 2017

World Baseball Classic Preview: Team Israel

After Italy last week, CEB know introduces an other European participant to the 2017 World Baseball Classic: Israel. 

Baseball started in 1986 in Israel when an enthusiat group of expats established the Israel Association of Baseball (IAB). Baseball has been growing in Israel since and most recently with the launch of an MLB recognized Academy. There are now close to a 1,000 people playing baseball in Israel.

Key facts
  • - 1st participation to the World Baseball Classic / won the 2016 Brooklyn Qualifier
  • - 3rd place at the 2015 European Baseball Championship B Pool

Shlomo LIPETZ and his teammates enjoying Team Israel qualification to the 2017 World Baseball Classic.

Past results at the World Baseball Classic

  • - 2012: Qualifier: W 7-3 vs RSA, W 4-2 vs SPA, L 0-7 vs SPA
  • - 2016: Qualifier: W 5-2 vs GBR, W 1-0 vs BRA, W 9-1 vs GBR

After a disappointing loss to Spain in the final game of the 2012 WBC Qualifier, world N°41 Israel finally managed to qualifiy to the World Baseball Classic. They won the 2016 Qualifier in Brooklyn, winning twice against Great-Britain and against 2013 WBC participant Brazil. There was a lot of motivation with some players of the 2016 team having experienced the heartbreaking loss to Spain in 2012. A great example is Josh ZEID who earned his redemption by going from 2012 Qualifier final game loser to 2016 Qualifier final game winner.

Inside Team Israel's dugout during the 2016 WBC Qualifier in Brooklyn.

The WBC birth helped Israel receive a lot of publicity and increase its exposure at home. 10 MLB players made a trip to Israel in January, a visit that created a lot of excitement among young players and strenghtened the connection between those players and the IAB.

The 2017 roster and expectations

See the complete Israel roster for the 2017 World Baseball Classic.

Team Israel says it will compete with great enthusiasm and enjoyment. "The players are highly motivated, and look forward to competing. Israel is in a pool of serious competitors, and the team knows that it has its work cut out for it. But baseball is baseball, and you never know what will happen. This is a team that is made up of professionals who do not crumble under pressure. They have a job to do and they will do what it takes. It will be exciting to see how far the team can progress." Said IAB Secretary General Margo Sugarman.

The team managed by Jerry WEINSTEIN counts many Jewish-american players with MLB or MILB experience such as pitcher Jason Marquis or outfielder Sam Fuld.
The IAB has put some hard work finding players in Major and Minor Leagues that qualify with the eligibility rules (anyone that has one Jewish grandparent is eligible to the Israeli citizenship).

Israel's 2017 WBC schedule
Israel will begin its journey on March 6th against Pool A host South Korea. They'll then face Chinese Taipei on March 7th and The Netherlands on the 9th. If qualified, the final game of the Pool is on March 10th and the two teams are going to the second round in Tokyo, Japan with the two best teams of Pool B. 

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