October 19, 2019

Israel’s National Baseball Team Advances to Europe-Africa Olympic Qualifier

Israel's national baseball team at the European Championships in Germany. (Israel Association of Baseball Facebook page)

(JTA) — Israel’s national baseball team came in fourth place in its first European Championship tournament.

Israel lost to the Spanish national team in the battle for the bronze medal on Saturday night.

The team can still qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics at the World Baseball Softball Confederation Olympic Qualifier Europe-Africa tournament in Parma, Italy, which starts on Sept. 18.

The top five teams from the European Championship will now advance to the Parma qualifier. The sixth team playing in that tournament will be South Africa, which won the 2019 African Baseball Championship.

The Israeli team, which is packed with Jewish-American college players and some pros, had the country’s best showing in the last World Baseball Classic in 2017, surprising many by making the main tournament, where it finished sixth.

While the World Baseball Classic only requires that players be eligible for citizenship of the country they represent, for Olympic qualifying tournaments and for the actual Olympics players must be citizens of the country they represent. The majority of the national team players is Jewish Americans who received citizenship in order to play or Israelis who live in the United States. Among the former pros on the squad are Danny Valencia, 34, and Jeremy Wolf, 25.