Narberth, Pa. native going for gold with Team Israel at Tokyo Olympics

Monday, July 19, 2021
Narberth native going for gold with Team Israel at Olympics
TEAM ISRAEL: Jake Rosenberg, who grew up in Narberth, Pa., is one of the 20 Americans who will represent Israel at the Tokyo Olympics.

NARBERTH, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- The Jamaican bobsled team might be the most well-known Olympic underdogs in history, but how about the Israeli baseball team?

"So there's six teams: (Israel), Korea, Dominican, Mexico, and the US," Jake Rosenberg tells Action News. "The other five teams are ranked in the top 7 of the world, and we are ranked 24th, so we are definitely the underdogs but we're going for gold!"

Rosenberg, who grew up in Narberth, is one of the 20 Americans who will represent Israel at the Tokyo Olympics later this month.

"It's kinda hard to put into words, it's hard to say it's a dream come true because this isn't anything I ever dreamed about," says Rosenberg. "I didn't know Israel had a baseball team."

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Fans are likely to be banned from the Tokyo Olympics following a state of emergency aimed at slowing rising COVID-19 infections.

Well, they didn't, not until 2018 when the team was put together. At the time, Rosenberg, who played baseball at Harriton High School, was coaching in Israel when he was approached to tryout.

Given that only 500 to 600 kids in Israel even play the sport, the roster consists mostly of Americans who have been granted dual citizenship thanks to having at least one Jewish parent.

"We have four guys born in Israel, we're all Israeli citizens but they're the four main guys from Israel. The rest of them are just like me-- American Jews who thought this would be a great opportunity to represent their second homeland in Israel," Rosenberg explains.

The team's biggest name is former MLB all-star Ian Kinsler. With the second baseman leading the way, the Israeli team won the European and African qualifier in 2019 in Italy.

And on July 30, the Israeli baseball team will make their Olympic debut against the United States.

"I think we're one of the best underdog stories in team sports history," says Rosenberg. "No one really gave us a chance. We had to win so many games through all Europe, Africa, and now to be able to represent Israel at the Olympics, it's hard to put into words."