The 20th Maccabiah Games – often referred to as the “Jewish Olympics” – wrapped up in Israel with Team Canada winning the gold medal in Open Men’s Softball.
And, for the first time ever, four athletes from the same family were on a Canadian Maccabiah team in the same sport. Daniel, Robbie, Jacob and Stephen Osterer of Ottawa were all members of the Men’s Open Softball team. All four are veterans of the Ottawa Jewish Men’s Softball League and graduates of the Ottawa Nepean Canadians Baseball program. The boys brought home the gold medal in an exciting and nail-biting gold medal game.
The epic contest with Team USA was tied 2-2 after regulation play. Team Canada was behind two runs in the bottom of the eighth inning. With one out and a man on second, Daniel was at the plate with a count of no balls and two strikes when a cat mysteriously ran on to the field, stopping play and disrupting the rhythm of the American pitcher. After the cat was corralled, Daniel worked the count to a walk and scored the tying run when his cousin Jacob punched a hit through to win it for Canada. The boys were convinced that their late Uncle Howie did what he could to give them the edge!
Howie Osterer – who had made aliyah to Israel from Ottawa – was very involved with baseball in Israel and umpired at the last Maccabiah Games. He died in 2014 at home plate, while umpiring a game on the same diamond in Gezer where his nephews eventually won the gold medal in softball.
Jacob said playing on that field was an emotional experience for his family.
Stephen and Jacob’s parents, Murray and Karen Osterer, were on hand to support their sons and nephews, as was family friend, supporter and energetic fan Harry Prizant who made the effort to get to the game shortly after landing in Israel.
Their grandfather, Joe Osterer of blessed memory, well known in Ottawa athletic circles as a softball player and professional hockey referee, would have been very proud.