Can we play ball? Israel to compete in 2013 WBC qualifier

Major League Baseball’s top Jewish talent could represent Israel at the 2013 World Baseball Classic.

June 3, 2011 07:03
2 minute read.
Kids playing baseball

Kids playing baseball 311. (photo credit: Michael Freund)

Major League Baseball’s top Jewish talent could represent Israel at the 2013 World Baseball Classic, after the Israel Association of Baseball (IAB) was invited to send a side to participate in the new 16-team qualifying round to take place in the fall of 2012.

In accordance with World Baseball Classic rules, non- Israeli citizens of Jewish heritage are permitted to play for Israel, opening the door for MLB stars of the like of Ian Kinsler, Jason Marquis and Kevin Youkilis to play for the blue-andwhite.

“We are very grateful to MLB and the MLBPA for allowing Israel to participate in this prestigious tournament,” said Haim Katz, president of the IAB, adding that the balance of the team is expected to be made up of the top players from the Israel national team. “It is a tribute to our efforts and progress in promoting the great game of baseball in Israel. Participation in the World Baseball Classic is particularly exciting to us as it enables us to create a team of not just Israeli citizens but of all those of Jewish heritage.

“We look at this mission as a partnership between the North American Jewish community and Israel and as a vehicle to strengthen the ties between us.”

In order to advance to the third World Baseball Classic, which is considered to be the World Championship of its sport, in March 2013, Israel will need to come through a qualifying round which will feature a six-game modified double-elimination format.

“We are pleased to extend an invitation to Israel to participate in the qualifying round of the World Baseball Classic,” said Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig.

“The skill level and passion for the game in Israel is remarkable and we know their participation will be a wonderful addition to the tournament.”

Despite the failure of the professional baseball league in Israel, which was launched in 2007 and lasted just one season, the sport has expanded in the country over recent years, with the European Championship qualifiers to be hosted by Israel from July 26-30.

“Team Israel’s participation in the World Baseball Classic is a further imprint of the growth and expansion of the sport in Israel and Europe,” added Katz.

“We are proud to field a team for this World Baseball Classic and will make every effort to reach the finals.”

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