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Dean Kremer, first Israeli drafted into the MLB, notches a win in pitching debut

By Marcy Oster

(JTA) – Dean Kremer, the first Israeli baseball player to be drafted into the Major Leagues, was called up to the Baltimore Orioles and earned a victory in his debut – all in less than 24 hours. Kremer led the Orioles to a 5-1 win over the New York Yankees on Sunday, Sept. 6, allowing just one hit and one earned run while striking out seven in six innings on Sunday afternoon. He got the call that he would be starting at 10:30 the previous evening, MiLB.com reported.

Kremer, 24, was born in California to Israeli parents. He was drafted in 2015 by the San Diego Padres but did not sign, opting to play another year at the college level. In 2016 he was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers and signed with the team. He was traded to the Orioles in July 2018 and had been playing in the minor leagues until the call-up.

The 6-3, 185-pound righthander pitched for the Israeli national team in the 2014 European Championships and in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. He also played for the gold-medal winning Team USA in the 2013 Maccabiah Games in Israel.

While Kremer is the first Israeli citizen to pitch in the Major Leagues, he is not the first Israeli citizen to play in the majors. That designation belongs to Ryan Lavarnway, who obtained Israeli citizenship in November in order to play for Team Israel at the Tokyo Olympics this year, but they were postponed to next summer due to the coronavirus. Lavarnway was called up to the Miami Marlins in August but was later designated for assignment.

Kremer’s entire extended family, including his grandparents, lives in Israel, and one of his brothers is serving in the Israeli army. His great-uncle is Haim Saban, the American-Israeli billionaire businessman who created the Power Rangers franchise and also played a role in last month’s deal normalizing Israel’s relations with the United Arab Emirates.

Kremer says he is happy to be a role model for Israeli children who want to play professional baseball.

“It’s awesome to be able to hold the torch, so to speak, for guys like me,” Kremer told MiLB.com. “There is a list and it’s growing every year. We’re just showing the kids over there that it’s possible.”

He has told reporters that he takes his Jewishness seriously and would not pitch on Yom Kippur, the CBS affiliate in Baltimore reported.

Main Photo: Dean Kremer pitches for the Baltimore Orioles in his Major League debut against the New York Yankees at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on Sept. 6, 2020 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

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