Former Texas Rangers’ All-Star second baseman Ian Kinsler is set to play on the international stage for Team Israel this summer.
Most baseball fans will remember the 2017 World Baseball Classic, when the United States took home the gold medal after defeating the Dominican Republic.
Ian Kinsler was the starting second baseman on that team.
Now just two years after retiring, the former big league second baseman is looking to lace up his cleats once again on the international stage.
With the return of baseball to the Olympics, Kinsler has decided to go back to his roots and suit up for Team Israel, instead of Team U.S.A.
In a post by MLB.com‘s Jon Paul Morosi, the 39-year old Kinsler (wow, time has flown by) visited his country of descent last year to gain dual citizenship.
Former Texas Rangers great Ian Kinsler is playing baseball for Team Israel in Tokyo this summer.
His dual citizenship makes him eligible to play for Team Israel in the upcoming Tokyo Olympics that was postponed from 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In fact, according to Morosi, it was just a few months after his retirement in 2019 that Kinsler accepted the offer to be a part of the Israeli roster.
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One month after his retirement, Israel punched their ticket into the Olympic games by winning the European Olympics in Italy.
Kinsler went under the knife for a cervical spinal fusion but has since remained healthy and in a regular baseball routine so that he could pursue this opportunity.
More importantly, though, Ian Kinsler is re-connecting with his family lineage, which is especially meaningful considering his grandfather’s death in 2001.
Winning an Olympic gold medal is not Kinsler’s focus heading into this summer, but rather creating a lifetime awareness and love of baseball in Israel:
“Youth baseball is a huge passion for my dad. We’ve talked about what it would mean to both of us to see baseball really take off in Israel. My goal is to medal, create a buzz for baseball in Israel, and inspire young people to play. That’s the ultimate goal that I have.”
Ian Kinsler is embracing his heritage while playing the game he loves.
Ian Kinsler’s journey through the major leagues has allowed to assume a platform in order to pursue youth baseball in Israel, as well as having given him a voice to resonate with other Israeli ballplayers with aspirations of making it to the highest level of the game.
Kinsler ended his 14-year career with the San Diego Padres, but also played for the Texas Rangers, Detroit Tigers, Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Angels.
He was a four-time All-Star, World Series champion and two-time Gold Glove award winner, as well as a career .269 hitter with 1,999 hits, 257 homers and 909 RBIs. He also accumulated 243 stolen bases and sported a career OPS+ of 107.