Selective, baseball tournament Tokyo Olympics ? Let’s say it only applies to the top of the discipline. Only six teams: USA, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Dominican Republic and Israel. Pardon ? The Hebrew state in the bat’s big league?
This is no joke, although his presence by some is considered as amazing as the Jamaican bobsled at the Calgary Winter Games in 1988. Admittedly, with barely a thousand athletes, no one had imagined that Israel could take the Olympic light in this discipline. No one, except Peter Kurz, general manager of “Team Israel”.
His story begins in the late 1990s, when he takes his son to a club in Tel Aviv. Baseball, he knows like any good American. He was born in New York, immigrated at the age of 20 in 1976, and has long divided his time between the two countries. In the children’s club, he took on more and more responsibility, and soon became involved in the Israeli baseball association. Becomes Secretary General when President.
A very close-knit team
In 2017, the national team achieved a surprising achievement: 6e of the World Baseball Classic, a major international competition. The announcement a few months earlier of the discipline’s return to the Games in 2020 (its withdrawal from the program was decided in 2005) gives Peter Kurz a crazy idea. Why not with us?
He started a recruitment campaign in the United States, and got vibrating identity fibers to Jewish players from all walks of life. Some are at the end of their careers, others in smaller teams. They do “Alya” to obtain Israeli nationality. A real alchemy occurs between these men. And in September 2019, the unlikely happened: they won the qualifying tournament Europe-Africa. Are you going to Tokyo in cheers?
Not so fast. the Covid Long prevents the group of 24 players, of which only four were born in Israel, from reuniting. They communicate at a distance, discovering each other’s family stories. They’re getting even closer. Peter Kurz is now hoping for a podium, to especially encourage calls. He has worked there for twenty years, and hopes “One day sees the first Israeli who grew up in Israel play baseball in the major league”. He believes in it.