Major League Baseball allows anyone with a Jewish grandparent to play for Israel. Similar rules apply for every other country, which explains why Spain’s roster is full of players born in Venezuela, Cuba, Mexico, the Dominican Republic and the United State.
South Africa manager Rick Magnante doesn’t feel there is a “level playing field” and offers a suggestion.
“Suppose everyone of African-American descent could apply for citizenship for South Africa,” he said.
That’s not the reality, however, and Israel is pleased with the early result and the prospect of growing the game back home.
Among the more intriguing players on the roster is Adam Greenberg. In his first major league at-bat, for the Chicago Cubs in 2005, he was hit in the head by a pitch from Valerio De Los Santos of the Marlins.
Greenberg never got back to the majors. At 31, he’s a year past his last pro swing, for the independent Bridgeport Bluefish.
“There probably is a stereotype out there about Jewish people not being great athletes,” Greenberg said. “When a great Jewish athlete comes along, it takes some people by surprise.”
“But the bigger picture is getting kids in Israel excited about baseball and showing them people that they can relate to playing the sport at a high level,” he said.
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