In a real-life Purim story, Israel’s national baseball team read the Book of Esther from a scroll before beating Cuba 4-1 on Sunday, the holiday of Purim. In yet another startling victory, the fledgling Israeli team stands at 4 wins and no losses in their first international endeavor at the World Baseball Classic (WBC) in Tokyo.
The Jewish holiday of Purim begins tonight. At the World Baseball Classic in Tokyo, Team Israel made time for a megillah reading: pic.twitter.com/ALiSfFl8pi
— (((Yair Rosenberg))) (@Yair_Rosenberg) March 12, 2017
— (((Pace))) (@PW_Mpls) March 12, 2017
The Israeli team was ranked the lowest, 41st, when they entered the international competition, but came out swinging, beating third-ranked South Korea 2-1 in extra innings in the opening game. Next, they beat fourth-ranked Taiwan 15-7, and then went on to beat ninth-ranked Netherlands 4-2. Israel finished Pool A in first place with a 3-0 record.
The success of the team is especially surprising since baseball is practically unknown in Israel. There is only one field in the entire country dedicated to the sport, and 1,000 active players. Despite the team’s success, the series is not being televised in Israel. So unlikely is their victory, ESPN referred to them as “Jamaican bobsled team of the WBC”.
The team has benefited greatly from Israel’s Law of Return, which gives all Jews everywhere in the world the right of return and the right to live in Israel and to gain Israeli citizenship. All but two of the players are American Jews, but according to WBC rules, a player may compete for a country if he is eligible for citizenship under its laws.