Interview: Repping Team Israel as an Israeli – Corey Baker

A few years ago I had the privledge of getting to know Corey Baker. Fresh off his great WBC performance, Baker came to Minnesota to work for the Twins. “I have never met a rabbi like you. Where is the long beard?” he said. We got to talking and turns out he was not just great on the mound but off it too. Flash forward to the European Qualifiers and Baker has once again laced up his cleats. Here is his story.
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1) You hung up your cleats a year and a half ago. How did you come to that decision?
After being released by the Cardinals I had the intention of continuing my playing career. I was in the middle of a good season and wanted to keep playing. My decision was an easy one when I didn’t get any offers from affiliated teams. At the point in my career where I was I didn’t think independent baseball was the best option for me, so I decided to move on and pursue other things.
2) What have you been up to since you stopped pitching professionally?
I have done a few very different things since I stopped pitching. Initially, I took a role with the Minnesota Twins as an Advance Scout. It is a unique role where I had the opportunity to travel with the team and help provide game plans and scouting reports for the Twins’ opponents. I also gained some experience in the front office which was of interest to me. After the 2018 season, I decided to go in a different direction and had an opportunity to travel the world for a bit, so me and my girlfriend traveled from January of 2019 up until about a month ago. We went to 18 different countries across 3 continents and had an unbelievable experience. Following that, I went to Bulgaria and participated in Olympic qualifiers as a member of the Israeli Senior National Team. 
3) What was your experience like with the Twins? Do you see yourself working in baseball again?
I had a great experience with the Twins. I can’t say enough positive things about the direction of the organization and the people I got to work with every day. It made leaving a really difficult decision because I was instantly welcomed in the locker room and felt like a part of that group. I learned a lot and am very fortunate for that opportunity they gave me as my first job off the field. As of right now, I don’t have plans to work in baseball. I wouldn’t have left that job if I thought I was going to pursue a career in baseball. Baseball has been great to me, but I am at the point in my life where I want to experience different things. 
4) You decided to lace back up the cleats for team Israel and the European Championship. How and why did you make that decision?
Playing for Israel in the WBC was the highlight of my playing career. When they approached me about obtaining citizenship and playing for the National Team it was an easy decision. There is an enormous amount of pride you feel in representing your heritage and playing for an entire country. My first experience in Bulgaria with the team last week was amazing and I can’t wait to get back out there in the Israeli blue and white.
5) How did it feel to play competitively again?
It felt really good to be back out on the field with a group of guys competing for a common goal. It is really hard to emulate that competitiveness in any other way and it is something I will definitely miss in my post-playing career.
6) The team steamrolled to a 6-0 record. What was the feeling like in the clubhouse? How far can the team go?
We had a great group of guys with a big mix of different baseball backgrounds, but we all gelled together instantly and had a blast in the clubhouse when we were all together. It was a loose group the whole time, even in that championship game we were loose and confident and knew what we could accomplish. I think as long as we stay healthy and play good fundamental baseball we can go far. I don’t have much experience in International baseball so I can’t speak to the level of play as we continue, but I know the guys we have and I know we can beat anybody.
7) Through the process, you and others made aliyah to Israel. What was that experience like?
Making Aliyah was a really unique experience. Not just being eligible for citizenship but now holding the Israeli passport is a great feeling. To represent Israel as a citizen means a lot and doing it with a group of guys who are all committed to the same cause definitely brought us together. 
8) Where can readers follow your journey on social media?
I am on twitter @_coreybaker and Instagram at @coreyabaker_ and as I mentioned me and my girlfriend did quite a bit of traveling this year and had an Instagram that covered that trip with is @breakingroutines which has some amazing photos. My accounts aren’t quite as baseball heavy as they once were but I try to let people see what I’m up to now and interact as much as possible when people reach out!
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