Former Major League Baseball All-Star Ian Kinsler Joins Team Israel

‘Wearing Israel’s blue and white means more to me than just playing baseball’

Haaretz Sports Staff
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Israel's national baseball team poses for a group photo at a team practice in Tel Aviv, January 14, 2020.
Israel's national baseball team poses for a group photo at a team practice in Tel Aviv, January 14, 2020. Credit: AP Photo/Ariel Schalit
Haaretz Sports Staff

Four-time Major League Baseball All-Star Ian Kinsler has been added to the roster of the Israeli National Baseball Team after his application for Israeli citizenship was approved earlier this month.

Kinsler becomes the most decorated player on the Team Israel roster that will compete for a medal at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, which have been postponed until next year. 

Kinsler, 37, retired from the major leagues at the end of last season after playing 14 seasons with five different teams. He played in three World Series and won the championship in 2018 with the Boston Red Sox.

The veteran second baseman, who received votes for the American League MVP award in four different years, is a star on defense too and won the Gold Glove award in both 2016 and 2018. 

He is one of 12 players in MLB history to have recorded at least 30 home runs and 30 stolen bases in the same season twice during his career. Kinsler retired with the most stolen bases (243), second-most hits (1,999) and doubles (416), and fourth-most home runs (257) and RBIs (909) among Jewish players in baseball history. 

“It’s every athlete’s dream to be able to compete in the Olympics and I’m even more excited to be able to do this playing for Team Israel,” Kinsler said. “Wearing Israel’s blue and white means more to me than just playing baseball. It means representing a country, a religion and my roots. I can’t wait to get started.”

Team Israel will compete in baseball at the Olympic Games for the first time. It is the first team to represent Israel at the Olympic Games since 1976, when Israel’s national soccer team played in Montreal. The six-team Olympic Baseball Tournament will run from July 29 through August 8.

“I am extremely excited to add Ian to our roster for several reasons,” coach Eric Holtz said. “Obviously, his playing ability speaks for itself, but I’m equally as excited to have his leadership qualities in our dugout.”