The Israel Association of Baseball has announced that another four American Jewish players are arriving in Israel to claim citizenship and join Team Israel in its bid to qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
They join the 10 professional players who immigrated to Israel from the United States last October. National Team Coach Eric Holtz will be joining the players on this trip, and will work with the team members in Israel, the IAB announced.
Team Israel will begin its bid to reach the Olympic Games by playing in the European Championships in July this year. A win in the B Pool of the tournament, to be held in Bulgaria in early July, will send them to the A Pool tourney, where the top teams will vie for a place in the European qualifier for the Olympics. Six teams will compete in the Olympics in Tokyo.
One of the players, Mitch Glasser, was a member of Team Israel in the World Baseball Classic qualifiers in 2016. Joining him are Rob Paller, Matt Sorensen and Zach Penprase. While these players are still in the midst of their professional careers, they are eventually looking to move to Israel on a permanent basis and work on developing baseball in the country.
“We are very excited to include these players on Team Israel,” said Peter Kurz, president of the IAB. “They are all keen supporters of Israel baseball and enthusiastic members of the 2019 Senior National Team that is making a bid to play in the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. They are joining their team members in working to put Israel baseball firmly on the international baseball map and raising the professional level of the game in Israel.”
“I am so excited to be in Israel and to work with the team ahead of the first round of tournaments in the summer,” said Eric Holtz, Team Israel head coach. “I have been involved with Israel baseball for over a decade, and I am motivated by seeing how the level of baseball has improved over the years and by the level of talent among the local Israel players who will be playing on Team Israel this summer. I am also excited to get involved with the younger national teams as they will be the ‘next generation’ of Israel baseball. I feel an incredible bond with Israel, its people and the game of baseball so I look forward to being back.”
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While they are in Israel, the players will be working with the national youth teams and the Israel Baseball Academy, and will attend the IAB’s All Star Day next Wednesday. They will also be in Israel to watch the SpaceX rocket ship landing on the moon.
Nearly 1,000 players play in the IAB’s leagues, from age 6 to adult.