By Deb Silverthorn
This year has been a home run for the Shalom Softball League with a return to the ballfields. Celebrating its 46th and 47th seasons, the league is hosting its annual awards breakfast at 8:30 a.m. on Dec. 19 at the Sheraton McKinney Hotel, with special guest Jared Sandler of the Texas Rangers’ Radio Network.
“It is so good to be back, and to come together to honor the past year of our league is something very special,” said League Commissioner Scott Lawrence. “The pandemic cut us short in 2020 but we’ve come back with 46 straight weeks of ball play, all of it just terrific and exciting.”
The 2020 season, cut short due to the pandemic, resolved in one season rather than the traditional spring and fall. In 2021, play resumed with a full schedule.
The league was founded in 1975 with six teams by six members of the Temple Shalom Brotherhood, four of whom are still living: Jack Borenstein, Murray London, Less Taub and Bob Weinfeld. The others were Steve Chown and Seymour Kaplan, both of blessed memory.
“Outside of my family, founding the Temple Shalom Brotherhood and the Shalom League is the thing I’m most proud of in my life,” said Weinfeld, now 95. “The league has grown in popularity and in its successes. It’s always just so much fun and a great group of people.”
Alicia Shwarts was the league’s first female captain in 2019, followed by Brooke Prim in 2020. Both women played as full-time players in the spring and fall of 2021 after participation rules were amended to allow any woman who has served in a leadership position within the league to be eligible to play.
The structure of the league was cut from 18 to 16 teams, from 216 to 192 players, because of the availability at the new home for the league, Spirit Park in Allen.
Sandler is the son of Sheryl Sandler and Alan and Frada Sandler, the brother of Darryn (Micall) and Jason (Amy) and, since 2018, the husband of Emily. Raised at Congregation Shearith Israel, Sandler graduated from Greenhill School and the University of Southern California before beginning his career in broadcasting.
“I have known many people who’ve played in the Shalom League over the years and I am absolutely honored to have been asked to speak at the awards banquet. The history of the league is significant here and it’s unlike anything I’ve heard of,” said Sandler. “I love the spirit of the competition but so respect the tightness of the community, the generational dynamics that exist because of the breadth of the ages of its players.”
Player registration for spring 2022 will open Dec. 20 for all returning players as well as returning substitutes. Players must be at least 18 to participate.
Awards will be given to division and championship teams. Recent champions have been the Muckdogs coached by Prim (2020), the Grasshoppers coached by Abbey Garber (spring 2021) and the Blue Rocks coached by John Banta (fall 2021).
Other awards include the 2020 and 2021 Hall of Fame and Assembly of Honors inductees, MVPs, Rookies of the Year, “Mr. Shalom” (the league’s top teammate), the Susan Tooch Fan of the Year, Shalom Relievers Group and Gold Glove Recipients. The Partner of the Year, Silver Sluggers and the recipient of the Phyllis Unell Temple Shalom Brotherhood and Softball League Scholarship will also be announced.
“The scholarship fits the mission of Brotherhood to support the youth of our community and that’s what Phyllis, of blessed memory, did as a teacher, a wife and mother who was active in social action throughout her life,” said John Unell, who founded the scholarship in 2003 after the passing of his wife. This year’s honoree will be the 20th $500 scholarship awarded to a child of a Shalom League participant.
“It’s always tough to get to one winner because our applicants are all so incredible,” said Unell. “Their achievements in our community and in their academic success are incredible and I’m proud we can honor that.”
The Bob Weinfeld Champi-onship Trophy for the Spring Champion team and the Richie “RO” O’Connor Cup for the Fall Champion will be awarded. Weinfeld’s trophy is awarded for his constant leadership and O’Connor, of blessed memory, honors the way he exemplified brotherhood throughout his years in the league.
Randy Kramen, a second-generation player and docu-mentarian, will share updates of “Temple Shalom Softball,” a documentary in the works.
“Reenactments for the documentary have been on hold since the start of COVID-19 but production will resume again this spring. All seven innings will be completed as planned in addition to an ‘extra inning’ chronicling the first non-Jewish commissioner, our move to Allen’s Spirit Park and the first female players and captains,” said Kramen, whose father and brother also played in the league. “Thanks to the generous support of the league, I anticipate the series will be completed in time for Shalom Softball’s 50th anniversary in 2024.”
Weinfield retired from playing at age 68 but still manages the Pirates, his team since the league began. “There’s little better than a day at the ballpark with the gang and you’re all invited to come play, come cheer — whatever part you play, you’ll be glad you did.”
The event is free for league participants and Temple Shalom Brotherhood members. Registration at the door is $10 per person.
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 214-440-254.
For league details, visit https://www.shalomsoftball.org/.
To support the documentary, email email@example.com.