The qualifying rounds of the 2013 World Baseball Classic hold special appeal to Jewish baseball enthusiasts.
The international baseball tournament's September 19-23, 2012 games in Florida will include at least two appearances by Team Israel.
Although official rosters have not been released at the time of this posting, Team Israel will be heavily composed of Jewish American minor and major league baseball players (WBC rules allow non-Israeli citizens of Jewish heritage to compete on behalf of Israel in the tournament).
Former Jewish Major Leaguer Brad Ausmus is the Team Israel manager. He's being assisted by former JMLers Shawn Green and Gabe Kapler, who will serve as player-coaches, and pitching coach Mark Lorraine. Numerous Jewish minor league players will round out the squad.
Columbus Clippers reliever Eric Berger, for example, tells JewishSportsCollectibles.com he's been approached about playing for Team Israel.
Berger says "to represent Israel would be really cool," and that he would pitch for the squad, if he has not been called up to the Indians or participating in the minor league post season.
Should Team Israel qualify for WBC tournament play in March 2013, the team could boast a "Who's Who" of Jewish Major League players on the roster.
In an interview with Israel Sports Radio, Kevin Youkilis committed to play for the squad, if he's healthy.
Current and former Jewish Major Leaguers Ryan Braun, Craig Breslow, Ike Davis, Scott Feldman, Sam Fuld, John Grabow, Ryan Kalish, Ian Kinsler, Jason Marquis, Danny Valencia are also being considered for the team, although some may need to decide between playing for Team USA or Team Israel.
Regardless of the fact that Team Israel's WBC tournament run could be limited to just two games, there will — no doubt — be an expansive array of collectibles available for Jewish baseball collectors (memorabilia associated with the short-lived Israel Baseball League abounds, as detailed in this 2011 post on JewishSportsCollectibles.com).
Major and minor league baseball cards for team members will be among the collectibles. Ausmus, Green and Kapler have been immortalized on cardboard on thousands of cards.
Martin Abramowitz, publisher of the Jewish Major Leaguer card series, indicated in a post in early August on Team Israel's Facebook page that he planned to include an Israel WBC card in a planned 2015 release of JML cards (Stay tuned for more news on this! JSC.com hopes offer additional details on the next JML card set in a future posting).
Ausmus, Green and Kapler are also featured on programs, bobble heads, photos and a wide selection of other memorabilia. Green is also the author of The Way of Baseball: Finding Stillness at 95 mph.
- Amazon: Brad Ausmus
- Beckett: Brad Ausmus
- eBay: Brad Ausmus
- Amazon: Shawn Green
- Beckett: Shawn Green
- eBay: Shawn Green
- Amazon: Gabe Kapler
- Beckett: Gabe Kapler
- eBay: Gabe Kapler
Other Team Israel collectibles include team logo t-shirts, available from PrintMojo.com. A blue design features "Israel" on the chest, with a sleeve design that includes a picture of a batter surrounded by a modified Star of David and text that says "Israel Baseball, Where Traditions Meet."
A gray shirt features "Property of Israel Baseball" and the picture of a batter surrounded by a modified Star of David on the chest with the "Israel Baseball, Where Traditions Meet" text.
Tickets to the WBC qualifying rounds are available for sale on TicketMaster.com.
Roger Dean Stadium will host the WBC qualifiers. A ticket sales representative tells JSC that no commemorative tickets are being sold. Standard tickets are available, however. The tickets will feature team names and dates of games, along with standard seating information, said the sale rep.
With tickets selling for between $8-14, collectors might consider buying tickets as keepsakes, even if they cannot attend the games.
As the tournament play begins, there's also certain to be photos, programs, score cards and other memorabilia that crops up, some of which will be sold in the stadium.
JewishSportsCollectibles.com will be keeping a look out for these items and will be providing updates for collectors. I'm also planning a mailing to players requesting autographs when rosters are set. I'll let you know whether this endeavor proves successful.
Are you planning to attend the WBC qualifiers to watch Team Israel? Will you be buying tickets as keepsakes, even if you can't go? What other Team Israel collectibles and memorabilia exist? Let us know by commenting below.