By Scott Barancik/Jewish Baseball News

Israel’s qualifying round for the 2013 World Baseball Classic will take place on friendly turf this November: Florida.

The Association of Israel Baseball announced today that teams from Israel, South Africa, France, and Spain will compete at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, the spring training home of the Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals.

“We are delighted that the games will be in Florida,” said Haim Katz, president of the Israel Association of Baseball.   “It’s an opportunity to play before many of our supporters and people who have contributed financially to the development of the game in Israel…We hope that as many of our supporters as possible show up to cheer us on.”

Israel did not qualify for the first two Classics, won by Japan in 2006 and 2009. But a new qualifying round created for the 2013 series will give Israel and 11 other countries their first chance to compete for a slot.

World Baseball Classic rules allow non-Israelis of Jewish heritage to play for Team Israel, and Israeli baseball officials are working hard to recruit American Jews who have Major League, minor-league, or collegiate experience. Toward that end, ex-pros Shawn Green, Brad Ausmus, and Gabe Kapler have signed on to help prepare the team for competition and generate publicity.

Countries that automatically qualified for the 2013 Classic, which is a project of Major League Baseball, are Australia, China, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, the Netherlands, Puerto Rico, the U.S., and Venezuela. Besides Israel, South Africa, France, and Spain, teams invited to the qualifiers include Brazil, Canada, Chinese Taipei, Columbia, Czech Republic, Germany, Great Britain, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Panama, Philippines, and Thailand.

Exact game dates have not been set for Israel’s qualifying games this November. The Town of Jupiter is located on Florida’s east coast, just north of West Palm Beach.

Players wishing to be considered for Team Israel can contact Haim Katz at

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