Former Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler rallies support for Israel

Team Israel manager urges MLB fans to stand up against antisemitism, and to back Israel in its war against Hamas

When former Texas Rangers All-Star Ian Kinsler took the field to throw out the first pitch at the American League Championship Series game against the Houston Astros last week — 10 days after Hamas’ deadly rampage in Israel — he looked fit and trim, like he could grab his cleats and glove and take up his old spot at second base. 

But Kinsler wasn’t wearing the Rangers uniform the home crowd was used to seeing him in for eight seasons, with its distinctive Old West lettering.

Instead, he had donned the blue pinstriped jersey of Team Israel (along with a Rangers cap), part of an effort Kinsler has joined to rally support for the Jewish state since the attack on Oct. 7.

“There’s a lot of propaganda and there’s a lot of backlash towards Israel by people that aren’t really educated or don’t really understand what the country actually does in the relationship with the Palestinian people,” Kinsler, who manages Team Israel, told Jewish Insider last week. “So I’m trying to bring awareness to that situation and hopefully people look into it a little bit deeper than just reading the headlines. I find it bizarre that when Hamas puts out a statement, that people read it and it makes them think different things. I mean, this is a terrorist group that you’re listening to.”

The day after he threw out the first pitch, Kinsler appeared in a video along with 18 current and former Jewish major league players and coaches urging people to stand up against antisemitism – and with Israel. They are the Jewish boys of summer in an anguished autumn of war.

The video begins with the words on the screen, “Following the attacks by Hamas on Oct. 7th, Jewish Major League Baseball players show their support for Israel.” Kinsler and the other players and coaches then introduce themselves by name – some wearing Israeli jerseys or caps – then several of them individually say, “I am a Jew,” before the entire group makes that declaration.

“For years, you have supported us on the field,” says Zack Weiss, a pitcher with the Boston Red Sox. Then Astros star third baseman Alex Bregman says, “But now it’s time to support all of us in standing up against antisemitism.” The video ends with the group collectively saying, “Stand up against antisemitism. Stand with Israel.” Besides Bregman and Kinsler, who is wearing his Team Israel jersey, the most recognizable names are former players Ryan Braun, Kevin Youkilis, Brad Ausmus and Shawn Green. It also features current Philadelphia Phillies catcher backup Garrett Stubbs.

Braun, nicknamed the “Hebrew Hammer,” played his entire career with the Milwaukee Brewers, and won the National League Most Valuable Player award in 2011. Youkilis played most of his career with the Red Sox, including the World Series champion 2004 and 2007 teams. Ausmus was a longtime catcher, before becoming manager of the Detroit Tigers for four seasons. Green was a star outfielder/first baseman, primarily with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Toronto Blue Jays. Some prominent baseball writers, such as Ken Rosenthal and Jon Morosi, have reposted the video.

The video was put together by Team Israel coach Nate Fish.

Kinsler, who played 14 seasons in the major leagues, mostly for the Rangers, who are playing the Arizona Diamondbacks in the World Series, recalled getting a group text from Fish asking the recipients to participate – and said the first player to respond was Bregman. Fish gave the players a script to read so that he could put their voices together in the video. As of Saturday, it had been viewed by 1.3 million people on X (formerly Twitter), reposted 1,200 times and liked 3,500 times. As with anything on social media, the post has generated both positive and negative comments.

ARLINGTON, TEXAS – OCTOBER 18: Former Texas Rangers Ian Kinsler walks out to throw the ceremonial first pitch prior to Game Three of the American League Championship Series between the Texas Rangers and the Houston Astros at Globe Life Field on October 18, 2023 in Arlington, Texas.

“I felt that it was a great idea to let people know that we all stand with Israel,” Kinsler said. “There’s a connection for every single one of those people on the video, and it was definitely an important thing to do.” He said he’s received mostly positive feedback.

Kinsler, who is special assistant to Rangers general manager Chris Young, said people in the team’s front office and coaching staff have approached him and asked if everything is OK.

Kinsler said he’s checked in on friends and baseball players in Israel to make sure they’re healthy and safe.

Earlier in the playoffs, when the Astros faced the Minnesota Twins in the American League Division Series, Bregman drew a Star of David on his baseball cap. In the other ALDS, the Baltimore Orioles sent dual Israeli-American citizen Dean Kremer to pitch Game 3 against the Rangers, just three days after the attacks. 

Kremer, who played for Team Israel in this year’s World Baseball Classic, said before the game, “Obviously, it’s a very sad situation. A lot of things are being brought to light. But everybody’s OK right now.” He added: “Is there a hesitation? No. I still want to pitch. But I mean, it’s going to be in the back of my head.”

Kremer wound up losing that game, giving up six runs in 1 2/3 innings, as the Rangers beat the Orioles, 7-1, to complete a three-game sweep.

Major League Baseball put out a statement after the attacks that read, “We are horrified by the acts of terrorism committed against the people of Israel that took so many lives. We mourn for all those who lost loved ones and pray for the wounded, their caretakers and those still searching for family and friends. We condemn these acts of hatred and violence and are heartbroken for the people of Israel.” MLB also held moments of silence throughout the playoffs.

The idea for Kinsler to wear the Israeli jersey for the first pitch came from his wife, Tess.

“I was asked by the Rangers to throw out the first pitch,” he said. “And that was something that I wanted to do. And my wife, her initial reaction was, ‘You should wear your Israeli jersey.’ And right when she said that, it 100 percent made sense.”

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