Tokyo Olympics

Israel's Olympic Baseball Team Plays in Hartford Before Trek to Tokyo

Some players on the team have connections to Connecticut.

NBC Universal, Inc.

Baseball will be featured in the Olympics for the first time since 2008.

Tuesday, one of the six teams playing in Tokyo got some practice in Hartford.

Team Israel took the field against the Bristol Blues, the first of two exhibition games at Dunkin' Donuts Park before they head to the Olympics.

A handful of players with Connecticut connections are part of the team, including New Haven native Josh Zeid.

“It’s been a while since I played a baseball game in Connecticut that really meant something to me and today was the first time I played in front of 30 family members,” said the right-handed pitcher, who played ball at Hamden Hall Country Day School.

The Israeli Olympic baseball team is playing two games at Dunkin' Donuts Park in Hartford before heading to the Tokyo Olympics.

“It means the world to play here in front of the people I love the most.”

For Zeid, the chance to be a part of this team means a lot.

For one, he can show his kids that yes, their dad used to play pro ball.

They weren’t alive for his time on the diamond with the Houston Astros.

“My wife sent me a picture after the game the other day when I threw my first game in four years and it was my 2-year-old standing in front of the TV pointing at the TV that’s my daddy. I mean I’m not a very emotional guy, I didn’t cry, but every emotion that you could possibly feel went through my body.”

Fans with ties to Israel traveled from near and far to Connecticut to catch the game.

"It's really exciting and I think it's really great that they're going to the Olympics," said Debbie Berrill of Bristol.

"To see that the sport I love is being represented in the Olympics and by the place I'm from is really, really, really.. who would have thought?” said Chanah Weinberg of Israel.

A sense of pride as a country they love steps up to the plate to make a run at what’s been America’s pastime.

"I think that Israel is a very diverse place, there are so many different types of Jews in Israel. Even the merchandise and everything that Team Israel has, has the Star of David on it,” said Leah Weintraub.

Team Israel plays again Thursday before they travel to Tokyo.

“I’m honored to participate just in an Olympic event, but I’m also honored to represent the beautiful countryside, the great people, just continue to play the game than a love. There’s nothing more. There’s nothing better than that,” said Zeid.

There are some big names on the team like four-tile MLB all-star Ian Kinsler, a former Yard Goats player, and some Yale grads too.

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