When the Orioles beat the Yankees, 5-1, Sept. 6 and Dean Kremer got his first win in his major league debut, the game was even bigger news in Tel Aviv than it was in Baltimore.
Kremer, the first Israeli citizen to play in the major leagues, allowed only one hit in six innings, and the long suffering fans in Baltimore were excited about another young pitcher shutting down the Yankees for the second straight time. In Israel, the excitement came in equal dose of pride.
Other than Kremer’s family and closest friends, perhaps no one understands that better than Jerry Narron, the former Orioles third base coach and current Red Sox bench coach who also assisted with Israel’s team in the World Baseball Classic in 2017.
“Israeli baseball fans follow Dean closely,” Narron said via phone. “They were excited when he got drafted and I’m sure they are ecstatic about his major league debut.”
Narron’s ties go way back with Kremer, who was born in America to Israeli parents and has dual citizenship.
“I met him before he got drafted,” Narron said. “I was visiting my daughter and he was in Israel at the same time and was working out with younger players.”
“Dean was one of the younger players on the  Israeli team,” Narron added. “It was a big deal that he was an Israeli citizen who was fluent in Hebrew and had the talent to some day play in the big leagues.”
Kremer, who spends a couple of months in Israel each year and whose youngest brother is currently in the Israeli army, has let it be known that if he was faced with the same decision he would follow the lead of Sandy Koufax and not pitch on Yom Kippur.
“I’m sure he wouldn’t,” Narron said.
Yom Kippur often falls during what would be baseball’s postseason, so Orioles fans undoubtedly hope that Kremer has to make a decision to postpone a start for one day, as Koufax did against the Orioles in the 1966 World Series.
It may have gone unnoticed here, but not in Las Vegas, but that win on Sept. 6, in addition to it being on the 25th anniversary of Cal Ripken’s 2,131 game, had some other significance. It was win No. 19, which just happened to be the pre-season over-under number for those inclined to make such investments.
News flash: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. got the first stolen base of his career during the Blue Jays’ 10-run inning against the Yankees Sept. 7. That leaves him 180 behind his Hall of Fame father.
The young Guerrero may one day challenge his dad’s home run (449) or RBI (1,496) totals, but the family stolen base record is out of reach.
For the record, VG Sr. was listed at 6-foot-3 and 235 pounds at the end of his career. VG Jr. is reputed to have checked in at 6-foot-2, 250 pounds, but that last number is as questionable as it is flexible. But, to quote one veteran scout: “He can flat out hit — and he knows it!”
Jim Henneman can be reached at JimH@pressboxonline.com
Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Baltimore Orioles