Celebrates season 49 at Dec. 10 breakfast awards
By Deb Silverthorn
The Shalom Softball League, fresh off the close of the 2023 fall season, will celebrate its 49th season beginning at 8:30 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 10, at the Sheraton Hotel McKinney. Dallas Mavericks COO Matt Goodman and Texas Rangers broadcaster Jared Sandler are the morning’s guest speakers.
“I hope everyone will come celebrate one of my life’s greatest pleasures,” said Bob Weinfeld, who co-founded the league in 1975 with fellow Temple Shalom Brotherhood members Jack Borenstein, Murray London, Les Taub, Steve Chown and Seymour Kaplan, the latter two of blessed memory.
In the spring, Weinfeld and his co-captains, Brandon, Brian and Cody Strull, led their Weinfeld’s Pirates team to its seventh championship. For Weinfeld, it’s only the beginning.
“I captained my hometown Mount Lebanon [Pittsburgh] Pirates when I was 10 years old. There’s nothing like it, and I’ll be back next year. There’s no retiring for me,” said the 97-year-old Weinfeld, wishing the 2024 season opener was already here.
The league, which first played at Churchill Park, now plays at Spirit Park in Allen. It has grown from six teams and 72 players to 20 teams with 240 players in the spring and 16 teams with 192 players this fall. The bats keep cracking and the balls keep flying.
“Post-pandemic, we’re back in full force with 103 straight weeks — despite a few rainy games — without a rainout,” said Scott Lawrence, the league’s commissioner and spring 2023 Championship Series MVP. “This year was everything the Shalom League was created for and what we all strive for. To be a part of a group that was responsible for handing the Bob Weinfeld Trophy to Bob, who had tears in his eyes when we won, is by far the coolest thing I’ve been a part of.”
Awards will be given to Weinfeld’s Pirates and to fall champions, Calvano’s Renegades, as well as to division winners, MVPs, captains of the year, home run and batting average champions, the outstanding pitcher and the Commissioner’s honoree, the Rookies of the Year, the Infield Silver Slugger, the Infield Gold Glove, the Outfield Silver Slugger and the Outfield Gold Glove honorees. Also being honored are recipients of the Mr. Shalom Brotherhood, the partner and fan of the year awards and those being inducted into the league’s Hall of Fame.
In June 2006, while working at the RoughRiders, Goodman told the Texas Jewish Post, “I’ve always had a passion for sports, I love the competition and how it endears itself to the fans. You can live or die by a team and I believe that euphoria is unique to the world of sports. How lucky am I to combine that love with an opportunity to earn a living!”
Goodman says those words still hold true. He’ll share his career highlights at the banquet with many he’s known for years. He and his father and brother are all former Shalom League players, including stints on Weinfeld’s team. Honored to speak, Goodman says he couldn’t deny the request of Weinfeld, who hasn’t missed giving him a birthday call for more years than he can remember.
The son of Ann, of blessed memory, and Mark Goodman, and brother of Andy (Anna Miller Goodman), Goodman was born in St. Louis but moved to Dallas as a child. As a youth he participated in Aaron Family JCC sports programs. His family were members at Temple Shalom.
Matt Goodman, the Dallas Mavericks COO, had former Mavs player Rolando Blackman to thank for summer camp fun as a child.
Goodman graduated from Richardson High School’s Communications Magnet, where he was a sports announcer. He is an alumnus of University of Arkansas, where he was an assistant sports information officer, an announcer for many of the Lady Razorback teams and a reporter for the Fayetteville Morning News and the university’s Arkansas Traveler.
He began working with the Frisco RoughRiders, a Mandalay Baseball Properties team, in 2004. After rising through the ranks and becoming a senior vice president, he moved to New York to work at Madison Square Garden.
“The Garden had begun efforts toward transformation and it was a great opportunity and time to be there,” said Goodman, who ultimately ran the corporate hospitality group. He then worked for the Cleveland Browns, the National Basketball Association, the New York City Football Club and the LIV Golf League.
Thirteen years after leaving North Texas, Goodman is back in Dallas with his wife, Dallas native Rachel Darrow, and their sons, Ryder and Leo. They are members of Temple Emanu-El.
In fall 2022, Mavs CEO Cynt Marshall called and asked him to join the team.
“We’re glad to be home — so glad. I had worked with Cynt years ago. I’m really fortunate to be with the Mavs,” said Goodman.
Joining Goodman on the dais will be Texas Rangers play-by-play broadcaster and talk-show host Jared Sandler, who was the Shalom League’s guest speaker in 2021.
“I’m still on cloud nine and I don’t plan on coming down anytime soon,” said Sandler, referring to the Rangers World Series win. “I’ve waited a long time for this moment. The season was an emotional roller-coaster but we’re ready to ride it again.”
“I’m still on cloud nine and I don’t plan on coming down anytime soon,” said Texas Rangers play-by-play broadcaster and talk-show host Jared Sandler, shown (left center) at the Rangers’ Nov. 3, 2023, Victory Parade, who will speak at the Shalom Softball Awards Banquet.
Sandler added, “I was 5 years old in 1995, sitting with my Dad along the left field baseline, when I went to my first Rangers game. Now, in my 10th season with the team, the reality and the joy met every expectation. I’m excited to return to the banquet to share what’s been a really magnificent year.”
Randy Kramen, producer of a documentary about the history of the league, will share video highlights of the film, which is narrated by Mark Elfenbein, Eric Nadel and Brad Sham. The production team finished shooting season three, covering 1982-1986, last summer and expects to shoot season four in the spring.
The Shalom Relievers Group continues to support the Shalom League family. Founded in 2021 by Lawrence, Keith Dlott and Cesar Garza, Shalom Relievers again hosted its annual Bags & BBQ cornhole event. Proceeds assist league players and their families in occasions of crisis and need.
“We’re a family and the traditions and dreams of our founders continue on,” said Lawrence.
Registration is $10/person, no charge for league participants and Temple Shalom Brotherhood members. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 214-440-2542; to support the documentary, email email@example.com.