Dec. 18 gathering at Temple Shalom will celebrate 48th softball season
By Deb Silverthorn
Eric Nadel’s classic “…and that ball is history” made history this season as the Texas Rangers broadcaster sat in his Globe Life Field booth calling the Oct. 4 game against the New York Yankees. That was when Aaron Judge broke Roger Maris’ 1961 American League single-season home-run record, hitting his 62nd dinger of the season. At 8:30 a.m. on Sunday, Dec. 18, Nadel will be the guest speaker at the Shalom League 2022 Awards Breakfast, celebrating the League’s 48th season, at Temple Shalom.
The League has grown from six teams playing at Churchill Park in 1975 to 20 teams of 240 players in the spring, and 16 teams of 192 players in the fall — all games played at Spirit Park in Allen — so there’s much to revel in.
“We’re back and we’ve got a lot to celebrate — we’re the best league in the world,” said “Skipper Bob,” Bob Weinfeld, a founder of the League and the only remaining participant of the League’s six teams in the 1975 debut season. For many years a participant, and for all 48 years captain of his beloved Pirates, Weinfeld is excited with every pitch.
Awards will be given to the ’22 spring champions, Wayne Casper’s Red Sox, and the ’22 fall champions, Pease’s Storm Chasers. Also to be recognized will be the League’s division winners, MVPs, the Larry Silverman and John Unell Captains of the Year, the JJ Eusay Rookies of the Year, Harry Abrams’ Home Run and Batting Average Champions, the Greg “Badger” Hurst Infield Gold Glove, Steve Rakofsky Outfield Gold Glove, John Banta Outstanding Pitcher, Mark Fishkind Infield Silver Slugger, the Irv Munn Outfield Silver Slugger and the Wayne Casper Commissioner’s Award.
Additionally, the Paul Rakofsky Mr. Shalom Brotherhood, the League’s new Hall of Fame honors and the Partner and Fan of the Year awards will be handed out; and the winner of the 21st Phyllis Unell Temple Shalom Brotherhood and Softball League Scholarship will be honored.
“We’re back on the fields, post-pandemic, as strong as ever,” said Scott Lawrence, the League’s commissioner. “From the players and coaches to their families and all our supporters, it’s really terrific to be back. We’re at an all-time high. The play on the fields is exciting and fun and the players of the early games hang out to watch the late games while late gamers come in to watch the early games. The strength of the brotherhood is incredible.”
Having Nadel returning to the dais after his previous visits in 1989, 1999, 2013 and 2014 is something the entire League is looking forward to.
“Nadel made the call and let all of us listening know about Aaron Judge’s breaking of Roger Maris’ home run record. You could hear the enthusiasm in his voice. His “…and that ball is history’ has almost never been truer,” said Lawrence.
Nadel, a Brooklyn, New York native, was just 7 when, while riding in his father’s car and listening to a baseball game on the radio, he was captured by a dream of what would become his blessed future.
“My father’s DeSoto convertible. We were stopped at a light and I asked my dad, who was a dentist, if Mel Allen was getting paid,” said Nadel. “He said, ‘Yes, that’s his job.’ Dad went to an office, and Mel Allen got to go to Yankee Stadium and watch baseball. I knew that’s what I wanted to do.”
At Brown University’s WBRU, Nadel learned the art of the play-by-play. After graduation he worked as a hockey announcer in Muskegon, Michigan; Oklahoma City; and for the Dallas Blackhawks before making the Texas Rangers’ broadcast booth his home in 1979. In 2014 he was honored with the Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasting excellence by the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum and named to the Baseball Hall of Fame. For 44 seasons now he’s called some unreal-turned-real moments.
On Oct. 4 in Arlington, Nadel announced that “the wait is over — 62 home runs for Aaron James Judge. What a moment, in the third year of this ballpark to have a 61-year American League record get broken.”
Nadel was also in the booth announcing Nolan Ryan’s 5,000th strikeout on April 22, 1989; Texas’ 30-run outburst in Baltimore on Aug. 22, 2007; the Rangers’ hometown win in game six of the 2011 ALCS over the Detroit Tigers; and Josh Hamilton’s four-homer game on May 8, 2012, in Baltimore.
He follows the Shalom League and enjoys knowing of the achievements on and off those fields, the connections and friendships as important as anything.
“The Shalom League is a trailblazing organization with a spirit of sportsmanship and fraternity that is off the charts. I’m thrilled to be back,” said Nadel. On Saturday, Jan. 21, at the Renaissance Dallas Addison Hotel, he will be presented the Shalom Award by Temple Shalom Brotherhood for exceptional community service.
“I look forward to sharing this last season, to talk about what we have to look forward to and about my day-to-day life as an announcer. I’m so grateful to make a living doing something I love so much and that I hope brings joy, and some escapism, to the fans,” said Nadel. He and his wife, Jeannie, are the pup-parents of Kirby.
The Dec. 18 breakfast will also include video highlights of the 2022 Spring Championship game and an update on production of Randy Kramen’s documentary of the League’s nearly half-century of play, narrated by Mark Elfenbein, Eric Nadel and Brad Sham.
Having, in late 2019, lost his father, Martin and brother, Marc, both longtime players of the Shalom League, Kramen echoes Lawrence’s appreciation of the League’s members. Kramen said, “The League, and its leadership, have been incredibly supportive of the documentary and their brotherhood has been a comfort through the most difficult times during its production.”
In 2021, to further support the Shalom League Family, Lawrence, along with Keith Dlott and Cesar Garza, created the Shalom Relievers Group, which financially supports those in dire need who are connected to the team.
“I couldn’t be prouder of who we are as individuals, and who we are as a family,” said Lawrence, saying that the organization has supported families in difficult straits during the pandemic, with health and other needs. “We lost a young player, a young father, last year, and we were able to start up a GoFundMe campaign with $6,000. Ultimately, more than $42,000 was received by the family.”
Shalom, peace, is exactly what the Shalom League is all about.
“It’s been a great season and really every season is great because the people involved care so much and give so much. We’re out on the fields to play a game and, while it’s wonderful to win, we are all about so much more than that,” said Weinfeld, 96, who doesn’t plan on coming off the field for another umpteen years.
Registration at the door is $10/person and no charge for league participants and Temple Shalom Brotherhood members. For more information, email robert.
email@example.com or call 214-440-2542; for league details, visit shalomsoftball.org; and to support the documentary, email firstname.lastname@example.org.