When Israel’s national team takes to the field at the World Baseball Classic Qualifiers in Brooklyn, New York, next week, it will be counting on two veterans to advance to the 2017 round, Dean Kremer and Shlomo Lipitz. Kremer, a pitcher from Stockton, California, was a 14th round draft pick by the Los Angeles Dodgers in June, while Lipitz, born and raised in Israel, plays semipro ball in Brooklyn.
Both players are optimistic. “I like our chances. But it comes down to who wants it more ... and who has a better tournament,” say Lipitz. “On paper we have a great chance to win it all, but at this level of competition, every team can beat every team on any given day. One thing for sure, it’s going to be interesting.”
Kremer has the perspective of having played for the Israel Senior National Team in two European championship tournaments, including winning the C-Pool of the Confederation of European Baseball championship two years ago. “I think we have a really good chance looking at the roster that the staff has put together,” says Kremer, who was born to Israeli parents and goes back to visit his family every summer.
Lipitz, who notes that this year’s crop is arguably better than the one that did well at the last qualifiers, also takes a long view of the situation. “The roster is full of talent that I am sure we will see playing in the big leagues sooner than later,” he says.
For both players, representing Israel in the United States is an honor in itself, not to mention playing in a venue where there will be plenty of Jewish baseball fans. “It will be a dream come true to represent Israel on this big stage,” says Kremer. “I am looking forward to being able to connect with not only our team but to connect with a full stadium of people who feel a strong connection to both baseball and being Jewish,” chimes in Lipitz.
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