Former Trinity All-America outfielder Jeremy Wolf '16 is an ambassador and advocate for his chosen sport of baseball.
A key member of Trinity's 2016 NCAA Division III Championship team, and a former Minor League Baseball player, Wolf will now compete for Israel's Senior National Team. He also has formed a non-profit organization to assist players in the Minor League Baseball system.
After receiving a bachelor's degree from Trinity in communication in 2016, Wolf was drafted by the New York Mets organization in the 31st round of the Major League Baseball Amateur Draft. The outfielder played one season for the Kingsport (TN) Mets in the Rookie league, and another for the Brooklyn (NY) Cyclones of the Short Season-A classification. After having surgery, Wolf was released in October 2017.
"I knew I was going to be released from the Mets," said Wolf, who works in San Antonio as director of operations for RedLine Athletics. "I had a contact on Team Israel. They called me and said they needed players for the Olympic Trials in 2019."
Wolf jumped at the opportunity. Last fall, Wolf was part of a 10-player group of Jewish-Americans who gained dual citizenship of Israel and the United States. The aliyah - the Hebrew term for becoming an Israeli citizen - was accelerated so they could play for Israel in international competition.
The goal of the team is to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and there is quite a long road ahead before that can be achieved. Team members will assemble in Israel in late June for formal practices.
Then, it's off to the first leg of the Confederation of European Baseball Tournament in Bulgaria in early July. Israel is part of Pool B, which also consists of host Bulgaria, Russia, Greece, Ireland, and Serbia. A victory of that tournament is necessary for the next step, a playoff later in July in Slovakia to determine the winner of Pool B. The champion in Slovakia is promoted to a Pool A group, which will play in September in Germany.
The qualifying event for the Tokyo Olympics is set for September 18-22 at Parma, Italy, with the winner advancing to Japan.
Israel finished in second place in the 2017 Pool B competition of the European Championships in Serbia. However, Wolf realizes Israel will need to step up its game, not only to qualify for the Olympics, but to develop the sport of baseball in general.
"Baseball in Israel is not where it should be," Wolf said. "There are approximately 130 kids who play baseball in the country. The national team held a clinic for 80 youth players north of Tel Aviv, at the only baseball field in Israel. I would like to raise enough money to get equipment and resources for communities of baseball."
Which brings us to "More Than Baseball," the non-profit organized by Wolf to help Minor League players. The website (morethanbaseball.org) states: "More Than Baseball started as a response to help Minor Leaguers receive the housing, equipment, and food they need to survive. More Than Baseball is built by players for the future of the game."
Fund-raising is necessary through special events and direct appeals to individuals. When the organization is at full throttle, it is hoped the players will also receive counseling in career services, finances, and educational opportunities.
The reason for the concern for Minor League ballplayers? A presentation by National Public Radio last August stated most Minor League players are paid an estimated $7,500 for a year. Major League players average more than $4 million.
NPR mentioned Wolf's efforts. He said in the report, "A lot of guys are struggling…sleeping four to five in an apartment and on air mattresses."
Wolf is obviously passionate about baseball. He enjoyed the experience of playing for Trinity and for the Mets organization. He also realizes there is work to be done about the quality of life for Minor Leaguers.
"I wanted to play professional baseball since I was five years old," Wolf said. "I got to play in front of 10,000 a night, and I will never forget it. That being said, there are problems with it. We are trying to make a difference. Some of the money we get will go to building fields. It's player development, and public relations. We hope to develop more Major Leaguers by partnering with the teams."
More Than Baseball has a number of advisers. Included on the list are Jacob Tingle '95, Trinity's director of experiential learning and director of the sport management minor; and Dominic Morais, assistant professor of business administration, specializing in sport management. Mary Ullmann Japhet '84, who is senior vice president for communications and community engagement at San Antonio Sports, also advises More Than Baseball.
A native of Scottsdale, Arizona, Wolf had a distinguished career as a Trinity baseball player. As a matter of fact, Wolf snagged the final out in the 2016 championship series against Keystone (PA) College. He was elected to All-America First Teams of the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) and D3baseball.com. Wolf was named the West Region Player of the Year by the ABCA and D3baseball.com, and took the nod as Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference Player of the Year.
"Arguably, if you talk to DIII people, they will tell you that 2016 team was the best Division III team of all time," Wolf added. "We lived together for three or four years and we were really close. If we had not won, it still would have been an incredible ride. We got there because we knew we were going to win all along."