President Of Israel Shimon Peres met today with ex-professional Major League Baseball player Brad Ausmus.
Ausmus, who played in the past fir the Los Angeles Dodgers, and San Diego Padres volunteered to manage and play for the Israeli national Baseball team in preparation for the qualifying round of the World Baseball Classic and is currently in Israel to learn more about baseball in Israel. U.S. Ambassador Dan Shapiro, an avid baseball fan, also took part in the meeting.
During the meeting Ausmus gave the president a full baseball kit, including a practice jersey with the president’ name, a bat and a ball for signing and said he left the "sweet spot" of the ball – usually reserved for the most senior player in the team – for the president to sign.
The president thanked the team manager for the kit and said the ball is "easy to sign, difficult to hit."
The president asked to hear about baseball in Israel and Ambassador Shapiro replied: "baseball is turning to be an increasingly popular in Israel, especially since the formation of the national team. We hope that Israelis will get more exposure to baseball – a common sport that can contribute to the bond between the two peoples."
Ausmus told the president that he arrived to Israel in order to "test the waters" and updated him on the efforts to build the team that would represent Israel in the 2013 World Baseball Classic in March 2013 in the United States together with Jewish-American baseball players.
President Peres said that he had watched baseball games in his youth during his visits to the United States. The president emphasized that "there is nothing that helps connect between nations more than sports. I wish the Israeli national baseball team great success."
The Israeli team will play in the qualifying round this coming November against the Spanish, French, and South African national teams. If the team finishes in the top of the group, it will play in the WBC that will take place in March 2013 in the U.S.
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