Ten Jewish current and former Major League Baseball players and their families visited the Tel Nof Israeli Air Force Base near Rehovot, last week as part of a trip to Israel in preparation for the World Baseball Classic. The base visit, organized by Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF), allowed the players to meet and hear firsthand from the fighter pilots who protect Israel’s skies.
The visiting players, led on the trip by FIDF supporter and Jewish Baseball Museum Founder Jeff Aeder of Chicago, included former New York Met Ike Davis; New York Mets players Ty Kelly and Josh Zeid; Oakland Athletics players Ryan Lavarnway and Sam Fuld; Boston Red Sox player Cody Decker; Cincinnati Reds player Jon Moscot; St. Louis Cardinals player Corey Baker; Philadelphia Phillies player Jeremy Bleich; and Los Angeles Dodgers Director of Player Development Gabe Kapler.
“These 10 Jewish baseball players are visiting Israel for the first time to celebrate the fact that they’ve qualified for the World Baseball Classic,” said Aeder. “I thought this would be a wonderful opportunity to expose them to the country and for them to meet some of the brave men and women who defend Israel and Jews everywhere, and derive pride from the Jewish State’s ability to defend itself.”
Aeder added: “It is my great honor to do anything I can to support the soldiers who fight to protect the land of Israel.”
The 10 players will represent Israel in the World Baseball Classic, marking the first time that American Jewish athletes will play for Israel in a world championship. World Baseball Classic rules state that players who are eligible for citizenship of a country may play on that country’s team.
During their tour of Israel, the 10 players and staff practiced on baseball fields and met with Israel Association of Baseball players. They also visited some of Israel’s landmarks and holy sites.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem/Photo Credit: Daniel Bar-On)