Israel Baseball Opens U.S. Organization Headquarters

Israel Baseball Opens U.S. Organization Headquarters

Israel Baseball Americas has established a center in Baltimore that will support the Israeli national baseball team and assist with player development and recruitment.

As it prepares for the next World Baseball Classic in 2026, Team Israel hopes that it will have its strongest recruiting class ever now that Israel Baseball Americas is off and running // Photo Credit: Avi Miller/Israel Baseball
As it prepares for the next World Baseball Classic in 2026, Team Israel hopes that it will have its strongest recruiting class ever now that Israel Baseball Americas is off and running // Photo Credit: Avi Miller/Israel Baseball

When discussing the impetus for the brand-new Baltimore-headquartered organization known as Israel Baseball Americas (IBA) that seeks to broaden Israeli baseball’s influence in the United States and keep up the momentum that Team Israel generates every few years between the Olympics and World Baseball Classic, two of its bigwigs, CEO Nate Fish and COO Adam Gladstone, draw on former Jewish big league pitcher Josh Zeid’s mantra: “When you get a group of Jewish baseball players together, the conversations are just a little bit different.”

Indeed, it is more than just a sense of comity among Jewish ballplayers; it is a brotherhood, a globally connected network of athletes, one ranging from amateur players on kibbutzes to borderline Hall of Famers, that is united in a mission to propel Israeli baseball to further success in international competition. What better way to achieve said goal than to bring Israeli baseball stateside, where a nation of up-and-coming ballplayers is inspired by an unprecedented number of Jewish big leaguers plying their trade at the same time, a crop of ballplayers that one day could include Assaf Lowengart, the first-ever Israeli-born baseball player to be signed by a partner league of Major League Baseball (Frontier League).

With nationwide clinics, showcases, overnight camp programs for elementary school-aged children, and even fantasy camps for adults, the IBA aims to develop a pipeline of American Jewish ballplayers who could potentially contribute to Israel’s national team while also supporting the Israel Association of Baseball, the volunteer-led organization that runs the national team and works to promote the sport in Israel. The emergence of the IBA marks the first time that Israel will have an outlet in the United States supporting its national squad with scouting, player development, and branding.

Though plans for its launch have ramped up over the past year, the IBA has really been over a decade in the making with a groundswell of interest in Israeli baseball among teens and young adults growing incrementally stronger each year.

“I realize I have all these messages from guys that are actually now on the team, when they were like 15 or 16 and they were just discovering us or reaching out to introduce themselves,” noted Fish, who also serves as a coach for Israel’s national baseball program. “It’s fun to see that generation of guys grow up to actually be national team players now.”

It is a national team of players gunning for a deeper run in the next World Baseball Classic in 2026 (Israel went 1-3 and was eliminated in pool play during last year’s WBC), and is now backed by an IBA board of advisors including former big league All-Stars Ian Kinsler, Kevin Youkilis (Tom Brady’s brother-in-law and Fish’s college teammate at the University of Cincinnati about whom Fish remarks, “has really stepped up as a leader for our team and for our staff and the Jewish community in general”), and Brad Ausmus, all of whom have maintained prominent roles in Major League Baseball, as well as Team Israel legend Shlomo Lipetz. Among other Jewish baseball luminaries on the IBA masthead are Director of Scouting Alex Jacobs, a former professional scout for the Houston Astros and Arizona Diamondbacks who currently works with the Philadelphia Phillies under General Manager Sam Fuld, and Zeid who will serve as the organization’s pitching director.

“We’re really fortunate that across the playing level, the coaching level, the PR and marketing level, the front office level, we have incredibly talented human beings in every single part of that ecosystem,” noted Avi Miller, IBA’s director of communications.

“For us, the excitement is there. It allows us to produce a lot more intriguing content for our fan base and to engage with people. It allows us to have a lot more legitimacy around the game. We know that the Jewish players are active in MLB and even in the high-level minors. A lot of them are in touch and a lot of them talk about their Judaism, their Jewish heritage. We are beyond thankful and excited about the opportunities that will come from that.”

Though the IBA’s reach spreads far and wide across America – there will be quite a few clinics and showcases throughout New York and California as well as one at Rice University – the Baltimore base serves an important twofold purpose. First, it is where board member David Warschawski, who runs a globally recognized PR firm, and advisers Dan Wahlberg, Adam Zarren, and Adam Neuman, along with Miller, are all situated. Secondly, Judaism runs deep through the ranks of the hometown Orioles between new principal owner David Rubinstein, assistant general manager Eve Rosenbaum, and starting pitcher Dean Kremer, who holds Israeli citizenship and competed for Israel during last year’s World Baseball Classic. For good measure, Gladstone was formerly employed by the O’s and has many contacts throughout the franchise, one that could very well square off against the Atlanta Braves in this year’s World Series.

While the slate of activities for the balance of 2024 and beyond has yet to be finalized, it seems safe to say that the IBA will be stopping through Atlanta at some point very soon. Just last month, in fact, IBA Director of Camps Nate Mulberg (he’s also an assistant coach at Richmond University and was Team Israel’s first base coach during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics) was working out at the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta and left so impressed that he’s now determined to host a future clinic at the popular Dunwoody facility.

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