Arutz Sheva caught the final game of the Summer Baseball Classic tournament of the Israel Association of Baseball (IAB) on Thursday, and learned how baseball is catching on fast in Israel as the Jewish state "dominates" in Europe and now has its first player in the American MLB.
The game saw the Senior National Team and the Under 21 national team face off, and when the smoke had cleared the Senior National Team won the series 3-2 in a walk-off home run.
Playing on the Under 21 team was pitcher Dean Kremer, who earlier this month became the first Israeli citizen to be drafted in the MLB First-Year Player draft when he was picked by the San Diego Padres.
Kramer, the son of Israeli parents, told Arutz Sheva the feeling was "surreal" when he found out he was going to be drafted, and noted that despite being born and raised in Stockton, California, he considers himself as an Israeli. He comes to Israel every summer to play for the Israeli national team.
Last September he told Jewish Baseball News that his family celebrates "all of the holidays. Growing up, we would have Shabbat dinner as often as possible. I never attended Hebrew school formally, but since my parents are Israeli, I have been speaking Hebrew my entire life. My family still speaks Hebrew at home."
Rivera rain check
Thursday's game was supposed to be attended by the legendary former New York Yankees closer pitcher Mariano Rivera, who is currently visiting Israel and has already met with several MKs, but unfortunately he couldn't make it.
IAB Chief Umpire Leon Klarfeld explained to Arutz Sheva how baseball in Israel used to mostly consist of American "anglos," but now there is a great influx of native-born Israelis.
He stated that the Israeli youth national team is ranked fifth in Europe and 19th in the world, and last season "dominated" the European Pool C Championships in Ljubljana, Slovenia.
After winning in Pool C, the team was moved up to Pool B, and if it reaches Pool A it will find itself in the World Cup.
Margo Sugarman, secretary-general of the IAB, described how the classic American pastime of baseball has been making inroads among Israeli kids because they feel special for playing a unique sport in a country where basketball and soccer and standard fare.