By Deb Silverthorn
Special to the TJP
The Temple Shalom Brotherhood Softball League has rounded the bases again — and at 8:30 a.m. Dec. 11, in Temple Shalom’s Radnitz Social Hall, it will close the books on its 42nd season.
The Shalom League Softball Awards Banquet is open to the community and will host guest speaker Chuck Greenberg, CEO and managing partner of the Frisco RoughRiders. It will toast the league’s spring and fall seasons including its division winners, championship teams, MVPs, rookies of the year, the fan of the year, and the recipient of the Mr. Shalom Brotherhood award.
“We’re here again and what a season — we had a record number of participants, a record number of teams, and it just keeps getting better and better,” said Bob Weinfeld, event chair, who works with League Commissioner Wayne Casper, Mark Fishkind, Larry Silverman and others to coordinate the affair. “Chuck Greenberg joining us is a home run and I think that everyone who comes out, whether they have been a part of the League or not, will have a great time. It’s a family — that’s what we are.”
The Shalom League, open to all adult males, first saw action in 1975. With just six teams at Churchill Park in North Dallas, it has made Heritage Yards in North Plano its home field since 2000. This year’s teams had 396 players suiting up with a record 228 playing on 19 teams in the spring and 168, on 14 teams, in the fall.
This year’s Spring Division Champions were Weinfeld’s Pirates and the Season Champion Tigers were captained by Brian Conn. The Fall Division champion Rangers were led by Brian Ortega and the fall season champion, the Iron Pigs, had Captain Ryan Alford at the helm. Also receiving honors will be spring 2016 award winners: Batting Champion Scott Lawrence, Home Run Champion Jason Niswonger, Gold Glove winners Darius Wu and Brandon Yamauchi; MVPs: Scott Lawrence, Drew Waggoner and Andrew Williams; Rookies of the Year: Juan Espinosa, Tim Meyer and Jason Niswonger, as well as the fall Home Run champions — in a tie, Juan Espinosa, Brian Ortega and Darius Wu.
Winners of the Phyllis Unell Scholarship Fund, the 2016 inductees to the Shalom League’s Hall of Fame, its Veterans Hall of Fame, the Fall MVPs and Commissioner’s Awards will also be named.
“What a great season and we are on tap to have 20 teams next year. We hope anyone reading who is interested will contact us and take a look at the website, which is filled with detailed information and scores and postings. This really is a great group of guys and a great organization,” said League Commissioner Wayne Casper, who has been involved with the Shalom League since 1999, seven years as commissioner, at press time up for re-election. This year, Casper and his son Kyle played together on the fall season Rangers, with son and younger brother Logan — just 5 years old and the league’s 2015 Fan of the Year waiting his turn at bat. “The camaraderie and friendship that happens on the field, and the relationships that extend off the field, are made of the fabric of all who have ever participated.”
Chuck Greenberg, a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, graduated from Tufts University and the University of Michigan Law School. Throughout his former legal career, Greenberg lent his expertise to the acquisition and sale of more than two dozen franchises in baseball, football, basketball, hockey, soccer and lacrosse. He is the former owner of the Altoona (PA) Curve, and managing partner and CEO of the Texas Rangers. Greenberg is currently chairman and managing partner of the Myrtle Beach (SC) Pelicans and the State College (PA) Spikes and, since 2014, general partner and CEO of the Frisco RoughRiders. The RoughRiders, readying for its 15th season with a most hometown, family sensibility and feel, truly shares the best essence of the Shalom League.
“I love our RoughRiders and that it’s a place where people from all walks of life and all ages can come together in a wholesome environment to enjoy a great experience every single game,” said Greenberg. The father of three grown sons — Jeff, Jack and Ben — he can appreciate the Shalom Softball League’s generational bonding. “Really, not so different and a lot of parallels, the multicultural and multigenerational connections of the Shalom League, and I think it’s great that the community has this opportunity. I’m so happy to be called back to be a part of their celebration.”
Documentarian Randy Kramen will screen an excerpted preview of the second installment of Temple Shalom Softball: Second Inning during the event. Kramen’s First Inning recently screened at Dallas VideoFest 29. The film, in a Ken Burns format, shares ringers, rivals, and replicas of baseball moments, and mustachioed re-enactments and interviews, bringing his audience a 40-minute seat in the stands of the history of the Shalom League.
This year’s professional baseball season went full throttle to the very end with spirit and charge, the likes of which are seen through the players of Shalom League’s spirit year in and year out.
“This League has been so much a part of my life, even at 42 years almost half of my life, and it’s a great privilege to chair our Awards Banquet,” said Bob Weinfeld, one of the league’s founders and 42-year captain of the Pittsburgh Pirates, who enjoys putting the annual soiree together. “It’s a challenge and a pleasure and I live for it. I just turned 90 and I’m booking myself in this post for at least the next 10 years. After that, I might renegotiate my contract.”
Breakfast is free for spring and fall season players and all Shalom Brotherhood members in good standing, and $5 for all others. For more information or to RSVP, call Bob Weinfeld at 972-814-6214 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about the Shalom League, including applications to play in the spring 2017 season, visit shalomleague.org.