By BILL BRUNS
CTN Sports Writer
Two years after retiring from Major League baseball with an arm injury, Jon Moscot was the starting pitcher for Team Israel against South Korea in the opening round of the Tokyo Olympics Thursday.
Moscot, a former All-City pitcher at Palisades High, acquired dual citizenship in 2018 and helped Team Israel qualify for the Olympics for the first time. But as the L.A. Times reported online today:
“Jon Moscot grimaced on the ninth pitch of his outing in the first inning. Moments later, after throwing a pitch to test his right arm, the Los Angeles native walked off the mount at Yokohama Baseball Stadium with an elbow injury.”
Despite this early setback, Team Israel twice held a two-run lead, only to lose 6-5 in 10 innings when pitcher Jeremy Bleich hit a batter with bases loaded, forcing home the winning run.
Team Israel, the lowest world-ranked team in the six-team tournament, will now play Team USA, ranked fourth, on Friday.
Moscot, a 6-4, 210 pounder, pitched at Cuesta College and Pepperdine after graduating from PaliHi in 2009, and was drafted in the fourth round by the Cincinnati Reds in 2012.
After pitching with impressive results in the minor leagues, Moscot was called up to the Reds in 2015 and made his Major League debut at age 23. He won in his second start, but in his third game, he dislocated his left shoulder in a collision on the base paths. Surgery ended his season.
The following year, Moscot suffered a torn ligament in his elbow and had to undergo Tommy John surgery. After two seasons on the disabled list, he retired and became a pitching coach in the minors. He had pitched just 33 total innings in the Majors, with 16 strikeouts and a 1-4 record.
Yet his baseball career was not yet over. With baseball returning as an Olympic sport in 2020, Moscot’s Jewish heritage allowed him to become a duel Israeli citizen and qualify to play for Team Israel –providing his arm held up. He pitched well in several short stints as the team shocked the baseball world by winning four consecutive tournaments in Europe and qualifying for a berth in Tokyo.
A month ago, Moscot told a Jewish Forward reporter that the pain was present in his arm the entire time, but it just never reached the breaking point. Teammates were texting him, asking him “How are you pitching right now?” and he would reply, “I don’t know. God must be looking down on me or something cuz it was crazy.”
When Team Israel qualified for the Olympics, Moscot tweeted: “We are Olympians!!!!! Holy smokes what a ride with this team! Next stop #Tokyo2020.”
After working hard to stay in shape all through the pandemic (by training on his own and while coaching in the minors, before joining Team Israel for pre-Olympic barnstorming games in the U.S.), Moscot told the Forward, “I’m gonna give everything I got one last time to go out there and leave it all on the field and win this thing for our team,” he said of the Summer Olympics. “Just to be part of a team that now has a chance to go win a medal and do something great. It’s a crazy story.”
On Wednesday this week, Moscot tweeted: “Life is a crazy journey. 2 and a half yrs ago I couldn’t throw a baseball 60 ft and was forced to retire. W/ the help of Docs, PTs, family, friends, my wife and the IAB I’m honored today to get the ball game 1 in this Olympic sprint.”
Sadly, his much anticipated start in Yokohama ended after just nine pitches.