If I asked the average Orioles fan in Baltimore what the World Baseball Classic is, I’d probably get a fair number who could describe it in general terms.
It is an international baseball tournament proposed to the International Baseball Federation by Major League Baseball, the Major League Baseball Players Association, and other professional baseball leagues and their players associations around the world.
The 2017 WBC will mark its fourth renewal.
Now if I asked the average reader of JMORE if Israel has a dog in this fight, I’d probably get blank stares and a bunch of shrugged shoulders. Well, there is a Team Israel, and its loss in the qualifier in 2012 vs. Spain in Palm Beach, Fla., was its first step at cracking this 16-team tournament held every four years.
2017’s WBC will be held next February and March with opening-round qualifiers to be held in four locations: Miami, Seoul, Tokyo, and Guadalajara. The final game of the 2017 tournament will be played in Dodger Stadium.
What does this have to do with Baltimore’s own Adam Gladstone, and why is he on my brain right now?
Two good questions.
Gladstone, 44, is a Baltimore native who just happens to love baseball, which is why he has crammed a lifetime in the game as a minor league umpire and a minor league executive. In 2014, Adam was Buck Showalter’s first-ever video review guy during the first year video review was allowed.
More recently, when I started up a Saturday morning “live-stream” on pressboxonline.com, I picked Adam to be my co-host, both for his vast knowledge of the game and his deep-rooted connections to the game. It was through doing this weekly show that I learned of Adam’s involvement with Team Israel, a team that I hadn’t even known existed.
The reason this story has some pertinence is that Sept. 22-25, Israel will be vying for the 16th spot in next year’s classic. There were three previous qualifiers to get teams 13, 14 and 15.
Strangely, all three of those rounds were held in March with this matchup of Brazil, Great Britain, Pakistan and Israel set to hook horns in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Gladstone works under the auspices of Peter Kurz, who is the president of the Israel Association of Baseball and general manager of Team Israel.
Gladstone, who loved his time coaching in the Maccabi Games in Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Houston back in 1993-1995, saw an article about the formation of Team Israel in 2012 for the ’13 Classic and wrote Kurz a letter.
“Basically, my job has gone from being a logistics secretary to more of a director of operations,” says Gladstone. “In essence, my job is to stay in touch with everybody to make sure they have what they need.”
Gladstone will work hand in hand with manager Jerry Weinstein (like Gladstone a lifer in the game, who is a coach in the Colorado Rockies organization) as a scout and development person. The two will coordinate the efforts of five other scouts from major league organizations to track down players.
One important item Gladstone has to oversee is the eligibility of the players.
“The players do not have to be Jewish, but they must meet one of the three hardline criteria,” he says. “One, they had to have been a bar mitzvah. Two, they have to have had a mother or father who was Jewish. And lastly, three, they have to have a grandparent who is Jewish.”
The roster of Team Israel is dotted with players who fans here in the U.S. have heard of: pitchers Jason Marquis and Craig Breslow, first baseman Ike Davis and catcher Ryan Lavarnway.
Ex-Orioles coach Jerry Narron will be a part of Weinstein’s staff as well.
If you’d like to read more about Team Israel, go to the website http://www.worldbaseballclassic.com/team?team=isr or type in a search for IAB-Israel Association of Baseball on Facebook.
Win or lose, Team Israel in the WBC will fulfill its main goal of building the brand of baseball in the Jewish state. For that, Adam Gladstone will be happy to have played a small part.
Stan “The Fan” Charles is the founder and publisher of PressBox.
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