Head out to any country in the Middle East and you’ll find that the most popular sports played there are basketball and soccer (or football which is how they call it). Very few play a different sport aside from basketball or soccer and it’s actually quite rare that you’d find someone playing a sport like baseball.
In Israel though, the only democracy among countries a part of the Middle East and the only Jewish state in the world, you’ll be able to find a select few playing baseball and you can even find a smaller handful playing ice hockey despite the Holy Land being known as a warmer country.
When thinking of Israeli athletes, the biggest name that comes to mind is NBA veteran Omri Casspi. Soon, the most popular Israeli athlete will be prospect Deni Avdija who is expected to be as high as a top five pick in the upcoming draft.
If you were to go to Israel and ask people about Casspi or Avdija, lots of people would be able to tell you all about them. If you were to ask about Baltimore Orioles pitcher Dean Kremer, most Israelis wouldn’t even know who he is.
Kremer is an Israeli-American baseball pitcher that has been apart of the Israeli national baseball team since the age of 16 which he even represented Israel in the World Baseball Classic qualifiers and the big dance itself in 2017 when the Jewish nation shocked the world with a sixth place finish. While he was born in California, his parents were born in Israel and he holds Israeli citizenship. He can also speak Hebrew fluently which he does so at home.
Among the baseball community in Israel which consists of a few thousand people, Kremer is a hero to the kids who dream of one day reaching the major leagues. While Kremer made history today by becoming the first Israeli citizen to reach the big leagues, no Israeli born player has yet to make the MLB.
Aside from being the first Israeli citizen to debut in the bigs, he was also the first Israeli to be drafted which he was originally selected by the San Diego Padres in 2015 in the 38th round but opted not to sign. He ended up getting drafted a year later by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 14th round which got his career started.
In 2018, he was traded to the Baltimore Orioles as part of the package for Manny Machado. In the same year, he led all minor league pitchers in strikeouts with 178.
With Baltimore in the thick of a playoff race albeit currently not occupying a playoff spot, the Orioles decided to call up their 10th ranked prospect to see what he could do at the games’ highest level. He didn’t disappoint as he struck out seven while walking three, giving up a hit and a run in six innings against a powerful New York Yankees lineup. Kremer showed the potential he has and that he could be a key part of the Orioles future rotation going forward.
The Israeli-American will always be a hero for baseball in Israel and he’s lining himself up to have a successful baseball career, both in the major leagues and for team Israel.
Featured image credit: Taiwan News
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