TEL AVIV - The Israel Association of Baseball (IAB) is pleased to announce that Ryan Lavarnway has been appointed as the captain of the Israeli national baseball team for the 2023 European Baseball Championship in the Czech Republic in September. He becomes the first player to receive this honor in Israel Baseball history.
Lavarnway has been a stalwart for Team Israel in recent years, having competed for the blue-and-white at the World Baseball Classic (WBC) in both 2017 and 2023 as well as the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and authored many historic moments along the way.
"From going on an authentic Korean food tour with Josh Zeid on the streets of Seoul in 2017 to wearing blue and white to represent Israel at the Olympics in Tokyo, the experiences I’ve had with Israel Baseball have been a defining part of my life and career," said Lavarnway. "I am honored to be named captain of this team that has meant so much to me."
Lavarnway comes from a rich background in baseball. After a record-setting collegiate career at Yale, he was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in 2008 and went on to play parts of 10 MLB seasons with eight different organizations from 2011-2021 (in chronological order: Boston, Baltimore Orioles, Atlanta Braves, Oakland Athletics, Pittsburgh Pirates, Cincinnati Reds, Miami Marlins, and Cleveland Guardians).
“Ryan has been with us a long time,” team manager Nate Fish said. “He has always been a leader. That, and the fact that he is a catcher and has so much professional experience makes it a no-brainer to name him captain. He brings a sense of calm and control to the game that rubs off on the other guys.”
Lavarnway’s first action with Israel Baseball came in 2016, when he started at catcher and hit second for Team Israel in all three games of that year’s WBC Qualifiers in Brooklyn, NY. His 5 hits that series and leadership behind the plate helped propel Israel to its first-ever WBC appearance the following year.
Playing a pivotal role in the team’s first round games in Seoul, Lavarnway went 5-for-9 (.556/.692/.889) with a home run, 3 RBI, and 4 walks in the games against South Korea, Taiwan, and the Netherlands, earning him the recognition as the MVP of Pool A.
Of that experience, Lavarnway said at the time, “It changed how proud I am about being Jewish.”
After obtaining Israeli citizenship in 2019, Lavarnway tallied the fifth-highest slugging percentage of all hitters at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, where he compiled a 350/.350/.700 slash line in 20 at-bats. More recently, Lavarnway joined Team Israel for the 2023 WBC and started all four of the team’s games.
“Ryan embodies everything one thinks of in a captain,” concluded IAB president Jordy Alter. “He serves as a role model for our young players in Israel and has inspired his teammates and members of our staff with his hard work, dedication and generous spirit. All of us are looking forward to seeing Ryan lead the team onto the field at our next tournament in September.”