Exhibition games serve as final tune-up for Tokyo Games.
(Courtesy of New York Boulders) The New York Boulders announced today that Team Israel Olympic Baseball team will play two exhibition games at Palisades Credit Union Park this July as they prepare for the Tokyo Olympics.
On July 13, the Israeli team will face off with the host Boulders at 7 p.m. The following morning at 11 a.m., the Israeli squad will face the NYPD’S Finest Baseball Team.
Because Team Israel finished in the top five in the 2019 European Baseball Championship, it earned the right to participate in the 2020 Olympics qualifiers. That round robin tournament took place in Italy, Sept. 18-22, 2019. As the winner of that tournament, it qualified to be one of the six national teams that will compete at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. As host country, Japan automatically qualified..
In addition, two teams qualified through the 2019 WBSC Premier12 tournament in November 2019. Mexico qualified as the best team from the Americas, and South Korea qualified as the best team from Asia or Oceania (other than already-qualified Japan).
Another team from the Americas will qualify through the Americas Qualifying Event March 22–26, in Arizona. The last spot will be awarded to the winner of the Final Qualifying Tournament April 1–5, in Taipei City.
Tickets for the exhibition games will go on sale on Monday, March 2. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Israel Baseball Association to help offset their Olympic expenses and help grow the sport of baseball in Israel.
“We thank Shawn Reilly and the New York Boulders for hosting Team Israel as we begin our preparations for the Tokyo Olympics,” Israeli Association of Baseball President and General Manager Peter Kurz said. “In light of the recent anti-Semitic attacks in the United States and especially in Rockland County, we are proud to be there, wearing the blue and white uniforms with Israel across our chests and with the Magen David proudly displayed.”
He added, “We hope that the neighboring Jewish community will come out in mass to proudly show that Am Yisrael Chai.”
Boulders’ Team President Shawn Reilly said, “We are pleased to host Team Israel as the Olympics are one of the world’s great sporting events and Team Israel is sure to be one the great storylines of Tokyo. Sports are a great way to unify communities and by hosting Team Israel we hope that we can contribute to the healing of our community while enjoying some great baseball.”
This year’s Team Israel team will possess a local flavor with Westchester County resident Eric Holtz as the teams’ manager. Additionally, Yorktown Heights native Jonathan deMarte, 26, is also expected to represent Israel.
Team Israel also lists a trio of former MLB players on this year’s roster: catcher Ryan Lavarnway and infielders Ty Kelly and Danny Valencia.
Lavarnway, 32, played for six major league teams over a career that spanned 2011- 19. Kelly, 31, saw time with the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies between 2016-18, while Valencia, 35, logged time with six teams from 2010-18.
To be eligible to represent a country at the Olympic Games, a person must hold citizenship in that land.
“It is very exciting to have the Israeli National Team playing in Palisades Credit Union Park,” said Town of Ramapo Supervisor Michael Specht. “They are the surprise team of the Olympics and we are honored that this miracle team will play here in our beautiful world class facility, just two weeks before competing in the Olympic Games.”
After their games in Rockland, Team Israel will continue their pre-Olympic tour with expected stops in Pawtucket, RI, as well as Boston, Baltimore and Washington, DC.
The New York Boulders open the 2020 season on Thursday, May 14, traveling to face the Sussex County Miners before hosting the Washington Wild Wings for their home opener at 7 p.m. on Friday, May 15. Season tickets and packages for the 2020 season are now available – for more information call 845-364-0009 or slide to www.NYBoulders.com.