For the first time in the Israeli Baseball history, Israel will be participating in the World Baseball Classic after qualifying for the main tournament.
As part of the special coverage from the Sports Rabbi, we did a short interview with Team Israel player, R.C. Orlan.
R.C Orlan is currently a pitcher in the Washington Nationals minor league organization. Last season he pitched as high a A ball. He never pitched for Team Israel, but was on the qualifying roster.
Orlan grew up in Pennsylvania, and comes from a Jewish family.
S.R: What does it mean to you to be representing Israel on the international stage?
R.O: Being given the opportunity to represent Israel is surreal and humbling. I have played many teams that have become a part of my identity, such as how one becomes strongly affiliated with their university. Team Israel, however, resonates deeper: it traces back to the day I was born, and the days that my ancestors were born. It’s awesome to think that I get to play on one of the largest stages in baseball while representing my ancestors.
S.R: What is your connection to Israel & Judaism?
R.O: Growing up Jewish in the United States, we were considered a minority in many the towns in which we lived, so my parents instilled the values in me personally rather than relying on the outside world to provide me with my education. Although it would have been amazing to be surrounded by people that share my culture, it really placed an emphasis on the importance of family and maintaining traditions even though it may not always be the simplest or most popular option at the time. My brother recently visited Israel and I look forward to the opportunity as well, hopefully in the near future.
S.R: Why is the World Baseball Classic an important part of your life and career?
R.O: From the moment that I was invited to participate in Team Israel, I knew it would be such a great experience, for my personal life and my career as a baseball player. From a career standpoint, this is giving me a chance to play against some of the best players around the world and to prove to myself and others that I have what it takes to make a difference for my team on a major league level. Also, as I mentioned earlier, for my personal identity, it is amazing to represent a country that has represented my history for so long.
S.R: How do feel about Israel’s chances in World Baseball Classic? What are your expectations for yourself personally to grow through this experience?
R.O: Personally, I believe we have been underestimated from the beginning and have the ability to be great. We have an incredibly talented team and coaching staff, and we work together as a team. If our performance at the qualifier in New York is any indication, I believe we are a force to be reckoned with. On a personal level, any opportunity for visiting other countries gives you the chance to experience other cultures and helps you to develop a deeper appreciation for your own background. I’m very excited to go exploring and meet new people, even though the difference in time zones will take an adjustment period!
I also hope to have the opportunity to learn from some of my veteran teammates. It’s not often that you are able to work with some of the top players in the game and ask questions about mechanics and training methods.
The Sports Rabbi will have special coverage throughout Israel’s participation in the World Baseball Classic. Keep tuning into the Sports Rabbi to stay up to date with our Zionist stars!