Israel’s baseball team is one of a kind. They’re a “ragtag assemblage of retired major leaguers, current minor leaguers and even some weekend warriors with day jobs,” as described by the New York Times.
What is perhaps most unusual about the team is that most barely even speak Hebrew. Only four of the team’s players are Israel natives and the rest are Jewish-Americans with Israeli citizenships which qualifies them for the Olympic team (it’s very common for world class athletes to hold dual citizenships).
“We joke that we’re a combination of the Bad News Bears and the Jamaican Bobsledding Team,” the team’s trainer, Barry Weinberg, told the New York Times.
Their story is that of a classic underdog. Only four years ago, the team ranked 49th in the world. Since then, they managed to climb the baseball ranks and now, they’re competing at the Tokyo Olympics.
Their unlikely story has won the hearts of Israelis, Jews around the world, and apparently, millions on TikTok!
Since arriving in Tokyo, 24 year-old pitcher Benny Wanger has been chronicling the behind the scenes adventures of Team Israel.
Usually spectators only get to see the athletes on screen, so getting the behind-the-scenes perspective is thrilling, some Tik Tok users say.
“Olympic athletes giving us the content we want. So good to see them relaxed vs. super concentrated/serious during their performances. Good luck!” wrote one user, @mysticblackcloud.
Wanger has also been sharing an ongoing series of Tik Toks which he’s titled “Faces of the World.”
The videos highlight the diversity of the olympics, showing athletes from around the world.
All together, the four parts he has shared so far have garnered almost 10 million views.
You can watch Team Israel Baseball in action as they play South Korea on July 29th at 5 a.m. Eastern. They face Team USA on Friday at 6 a.m.
Originally Published Jul 29 2021 01:53PM EDT