Three Canaries Set To Compete In Tokyo Olympics

Posted: 6/29/2021

OLYMPIC1-POST.jpgSIOUX FALLS - The Tokyo Olympics are right around the corner. As nations gather to compete and celebrate, the Sioux Falls Canaries will be well represented. 

Three Birds will travel to the Games to take part in the first Olympic baseball competition since 2008. Infielder Mitch Glasser and relief pitcher DJ Sharabi will represent Israel, and catcher Charlie Valerio will represent the Dominican Republic at the six-team event. 

“It gives me the goosebumps to think of it,” said Glasser. “I think of family, my grandparents. My grandma escaped Nazi Germany in 1938… To be able to represent the Jewish state, to represent Israel, and for me to be proud to wear it across my chest, it’s something that my grandparents never thought they would be able to do.”

Glasser, who has hit .344 in 34 games this year, and Sharabi, who has made five appearances on the mound, helped the Israeli team qualify for the Olympics in 2019. The run was and is historic. Though the nation has sent plenty of qualifiers in individual events, this will be the first time since 1976 that Israel has sent a group in a team sport. 

After enduring the postponement of the Games from 2020 to 2021, Sharabi, a key reliever for the Canaries in the last two seasons, is ready to compete for a team that also features former MLB star Ian Kinsler. 

“I’ve always been a very observant Jew. I’ve always been in touch with that. It’s the background I grew up in, and I love it, and I would want to do anything I can to fight for Israel,” said Sharabi, whose father was born in Israel. His brother Michael is a former infielder for the Israeli national team. 

Valerio has competed in the American Association since 2015, when he was a member of the Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks. A former catcher in the Cleveland Indians organization, he has been on Team Dominican Republic’s roster since 2018. 

The Dominican Republic squad took part in two Olympic qualifying trials in Florida and Mexico in the late spring and early summer. The team clinched a berth in the Olympics last Saturday with a thrilling 8-5 comeback win over Venezuela that featured a home run from former MLB star Melky Cabrera. This will be the second time that the Dominican Republic baseball program has competed in the Olympics and their first appearance since 1992.

“As a child, our dream is to play in Major League Baseball,” said Valerio, who has ten hits, including two home runs, in 11 games this year with Sioux Falls. “But now we are in the Olympics. It is more important because we represent our country.”

The Olympic opening ceremonies are slated for Friday, July 23rd. Baseball will begin Tuesday, July 27th. The gold medal game will be played Saturday, August 7th, and the closing ceremonies are scheduled for Sunday, August 8th. For more information on scheduling and seeding, follow the World Baseball and Softball Confederation’s Olympic page.

The Canaries return home for a six-game homestand starting July 6 vs. Kansas City. First pitch is slated for 7:05 pm. For more information on the Canaries, follow the team on Twitter @canaries. To purchase tickets and for all other team information, visit sfcanaries.com. Media contact: joey@sfcanaries.com.

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