Rosenthal: A stunning, tear-filled conclusion for Team Israel, with inspiration and history

From Ken Rosenthal at The Athletic on September 23, 2019:

Blake Gailen tells the story all the time. He was standing in center field at the Tokyo Dome during a pause at the 2017 World Baseball Classic, five feet from his Team Israel teammate, Sam Fuld. Yet the crowd of nearly 45,000 was cheering for Team Japan so loudly, the only way for Gailen and Fuld to hear each other was by screaming like they were at a rock concert.

The atmosphere in Parma, Italy, on Sunday in the Europe/Africa Olympic qualifying tournament finale was not nearly as electric. Gailen, a 34-year-old Triple-A outfielder in the Dodgers’ organization, compared it to a college environment – low-level Division I, maybe Division III or even NAIA. But when the game ended, when Israel had beaten South Africa, 11-1, to earn a spot in the Olympic baseball tournament for the first time, Gailen was in tears.

“I don’t ever remember crying during a game,” Gailen said. “Even in the WBC, I only cried when it ended, when we got eliminated. But I was super emotional today. This is the Olympics. It hit me so hard. And I saw how hard it was hitting guys around me also.”

How could it not?

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Originally published: September 24, 2019. Last Updated: September 24, 2019.