Baltimore's link to Israel's magical run in the World Baseball Classic

Posted at 5:50 PM, Mar 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-27 18:04:39-04

They were the darlings of the World Baseball Classic and Yoni Rosenblatt was there for it all.

“I love Israel. I love sports medicine. I rehab elite athletes every day. It was a great fit,” said Rosenblatt.

The 35-year-old from Pikesville is a physical therapist and owner of True Sports Physical Therapy in Fells Point. He’s a proud Baltimorean and a proud Jew. Rosenblatt was one of the physical therapists and strength and conditioning coaches for the Israeli baseball team that made history in the WBC.

“We were thrilled, very proud of what we had accomplished,” said Rosenblatt.

What they accomplished was sweeping their way through Israel’s first round of its first World Baseball Classic. They defeated host South Korea, Chinese Taipei and the Netherlands.

“Did I think we would advance to the top eight teams in the world? Once I got to know the guys, yeah I did,” said Rosenblatt.

Team Israel’s roster was made up of primarily Jewish Americans who could play for the team because of the Classic’s heritage rule. The rule allows countries to field players who qualify for citizenship. Also on-board was Baltimore native Adam Gladstone, who has worked for the Orioles in their video replay department. Gladstone was Team Israel’s Assistant General Manager. Maryland native Ben Werthan, was a scout for the Israeli team. He’s the O’s Advance Scouting Coordinator.

“We were all excited to wear some of our Orioles gear on that stage,” admitted Rosenblatt.

Team Israel finished the WBC with a record of 4-2. Their run ended with a second-round loss to Japan in Tokyo.

“When we lost we were disappointed, sad, proud for what we did, what we accomplished, what we showed the world. We saw Jewish kids living in Japan crying with excitement to put an Israel flag around their shoulders,” said Rosenblatt. “That’s powerful stuff. That’s head and shoulders above wins and losses. Now you’re talking about really affecting people’s lives for the positive. That was amazing.”

And their success should last generations. Rosenblatt says the Israel Association of Baseball was awarded around $200,000 for its country’s performance in the tournament.  Those are shekels that will cultivate the future of Israeli baseball.

“They’re going to take that money and build fields across the country.  Not just build fields but build baseball infrastructure. Growing the game in Israel is going to be amazing to watch. If you think they’re going to build a field this year, in 18 years the starter for the Israeli national baseball team will be Israeli-born. That’s going to be amazing to watch,” said Rosenblatt.

As far as any anti-Israel or anti-Semitic remarks, Yoni said he didn’t hear any in Korea or Japan.  He says there were some during the qualifying games in Brooklyn, but nothing the guys hadn’t heard before and overcome.

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