This summer, Jake Rosenberg ’18 made history when he competed in the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics for Israel’s first Olympic baseball team.
Rosenberg began his college career playing at Alvernia University in Reading, Pa., Before moving to Ithaca College for his freshman year. The outfielder played baseball for the Bombers for two years before graduating. Rosenberg was one of 20 Americans who obtained Israeli citizenship to become eligible for the Israel Olympic team.
The Israeli national baseball team have spent the past two years competing in tournaments in order to qualify for the Olympics. The team placed inside the summit five at the 2019 European Baseball Championship, which qualified him for the playoffs at the 2020 Olympics.
However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, team members had to return home in 2020. Since then, a 10-day minicamp was held in May 2021 which took place in Arizona. In early July, the team played 10 exhibition games to conclude their preparation for the Olympic Games.
The team won the tournament with a 4-1 record and became one of six national baseball teams at the 2020 Summer Olympics. The team finished fifth at the 2020 Summer Olympics.
However, before joining the team and moving to Israel, Rosenberg said he couldn’t imagine himself playing baseball for Team Israel.
After graduating, Rosenberg said he was not ready to settle down and work nine to five. His father, who works for the Jewish Federation in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, has shared his connections with people who may put him in touch with Tel Aviv Baseball, a club in Israel.
“I was never able to travel overseas because of the sport, so I knew I wanted to travel a bit,” Rosenberg said. “I’m Jewish, I have Jewish origins and have never been there before, so I thought this would be a great place to go. I was thinking of going for a few months, but it turned into a long trip of several years.
Rosenberg said he had planned coaching positions for youth baseball teams in Israel and that he planned to only play in a men’s league.
“I went to Israel after college to have fun for a few months,” Rosenberg said. “While I was there I was told about this team they were trying to put together for the Olympics. I felt like I would be foolish to refuse, so I decided to get citizenship and take the Olympic trip. ”
Although Rosenberg did not plan to be involved as a player for Israel’s national team when he visited Israel, the news did not surprise his former Bombers teammate, Robby Buple. 18.
Buple was in the same year as Rosenberg and transferred from Alvernia with him. BUPU noted whether it was playing baseball or playing a casual game of basketball, Rosenberg would never give anything less than his everything.
“One thing you can never question about Jake is his work ethic,” BUP said. “He puts in the time, he makes the effort, and it’s always 100 percent. … Once he went to Israel I think he had more time to focus on that and polish his game. He was a solid player at Alvernia, and he was a very talented player at Ithaca. , but you can see how he refined his game and took that step to the next level for international competition.
Shortly after arriving in Israel, members of the Israeli national team also noticed Rosenberg and his dedication. Dean Pelman, who graduated from the University of Florida in 2017 and pitched for the Gators, noted he and Rosenberg had similar personalities and styles on and off diamond.
The two met early in Rosenberg’s stay in Israel and bonded in baseball, basketball and ping-pong. Rosenberg didn’t speak Hebrew, so he and Pelman got closer quickly. Pelman noted Rosenberg’s involvement with the Israel team has obviously been beneficial at every level he has been involved in.
“We must train [together] and it also showed how he was as a teammate and coach, ”Pelman said. “He’s just a great role model for kids. He does everything right and he is a hard worker.
Now that the Olympics are over, Rosenberg is back in Philadelphia. As Rosenberg and the team were aiming for a medal, he said the experience was invaluable.
“[It was] the best baseball experience I have ever had, ”said Rosenberg. “Being able to represent your second home in Israel on a national stage is a dream come true. I made friends and memories for a lifetime.
Rosenberg said he is in no rush to return to the diamond and is taking some time to recuperate and broaden his horizons. However, he said he is grateful for the opportunities that baseball and the Israeli the team introduced him with, and is not ready to give up the sport altogether.
“I don’t think I will play [baseball] in the near future, ”said Rosenberg. “I’ve played baseball for 20 years in a row, so I want to take up a new hobby in the meantime. But you never know. I really want to go back to Israel soon. The main reason I went was to help develop baseball, and with our participation in the Olympics, I think that helped. “