By Scott Barancik, editor

Team Israel has several household names on its expanded Olympic roster, including former Major League stars Danny Valencia and Ian Kinsler.

Minor legal issues. however, have prevented the organization from printing any names on its branded clothing.

That is, until now.

In a move backers hope will goose sales — and help reach a $1-million fundraising goal for the Tokyo Olympics in July — Team Israel today is unveiling a line of hoodies and tee shirts emblazoned with players’ names.

The debut is well-timed. Today marks not only Israel’s Independence Day but the 100th day before the Olympics commence on July 23.

An Ian Kinsler hoodie, available in white or blue and made by Nike, is available for $75

Team Israel beat long odds to earn one of only six spots in the Olympics’ baseball competition. Earlier this week, the Israel Association of Baseball disclosed its expanded Olympic roster. According to the Jerusalem Post, the list of 44 players includes “all 24 players from the team that clinched Israel’s Olympic berth,” nine who have played in the Major Leagues, six native Israelis who helped Israel win the Under-18 qualifiers in the 2019 European Championship, four men “currently serving in the Israel Defense Forces under the distinguished athlete designation,” and “three more who will be drafted in the same class in the coming year.”

The final roster of 24 players — yet to be decided — will be the first Israelis in 45 years to compete in an Olympic team sport.

Last month, Team Israel and the Jewish National Fund launched a “25th Player” campaign to help raise funds for the trip to the quadrennial games.

A Nike tee-shirt emblazoned with Danny Valencia’s name is available for $35

The drive — pegged to the idea that each of us can be the metaphorical 25th player on Israel’s 24-man roster — has shown early success. In the three weeks since, tax-deductible donations have grown from $110,000 to $284,000.

Each player on Team Israel is has his own campaign, so if you want to donate in Ty Kelly’s or Josh Zeid’s, you can.

In addition, premiums are available for contributions of as little as $25 (Official 25th Player Membership Button) or as much as $25,000 (a Team Israel uniform signed by the player who wears it at the Olympic games).

It’s not just individuals who are chipping in. Businesses, including Jewish Baseball news, are making donations, too.

Team Israel also is selling a growing array of themed merchandise, such as Matzo Baller tee-shirts, Israel Baseball kippahs, and the player-branded hoodies and tee-shirts released today.

In May and July, Team Israel will conduct an old-fashioned barnstorming tour, playing a series of games at minor-league and independent-league parks in the northeastern United States.

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