The Israeli squad defeated the South African team in its first game in the World Baseball Classic Qualifier. Nate Freiman, who ironically enough, plays Double-A ball for the San Diego PADRES(!) knocked two homers in the 7-3 win. In the qualifying tournament’s round robin format, the Israeli squad will go on to face the winner of Spain and France.
Some interesting bits on the Israeli team:
⦿ The team is coached by former Houston Astros great and Dartmouth grad Brad Ausmus
⦿ The 28-man roster includes former MLB players Shawn Green and Gabe Kapler
⦿ White Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis is waiting in the wings should the team advance to the World Baseball Classic
Another compelling aspect of the team is who is eligible to play for Israel:
Eligibility to play on a country’s team is simple, as set down by Bud Selig and Major League Baseball: any citizen of a country, or anyone eligible to become a citizen of said country, is entitled to play. That ruling previously allowed major leaguers Mike Piazza and Nick Punto to play for Italy, and Andruw Jones to play for the Netherlands .
Every country has its own parameters for citizenship.
Israel’s requirement, called Hok Hashvut, or Law of Return, was first established by Knesset law in 1950: anyone with a Jewish grandparent, the spouse of a Jew, or a convert to Judaism, is Jewish for the purposes of “returning to Israel.”
So, in essence, the World Baseball Classic respects Israel’s right to define itself a Jewish state more than most of its neighbors. Go team!
Adam Chandler was previously a staff writer at Tablet. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, Slate, Esquire, New York, and elsewhere. He tweets @allmychandler.