A league of their own
By Deb Silverthorn
The Temple Shalom Brotherhood Softball League has returned to the field, with the introduction of two women captains and longtime supporters, Brooke Prim and Alicia Shwarts.
“We 100% welcome the ladies and from the first game they’ve had incredible support,” said Scott Lawrence, a Shalom League delegate who has played for 10 years. “Alicia in the fall, and now Brooke, both add value to their teams and to the league as a whole.”
The 46th season began June 21, with an adjusted schedule due to the pandemic. The teams will play until early November. While Prim and Shwarts will stay in the captains’ roles instead of taking to the field, their experience with and commitment to the sport is extensive.
Shwarts, often behind the camera memorializing all of the teams, has played softball for 15 years, meeting her husband Matt through a league. As captains of the River Bandits last season, they managed the team’s fall draft, its administration and communications, bookkeeping, lineups and on-the-field play.
“It was great to work together and I was happy to become more involved and be a part of this special league,” said Shwarts. “I’d love to play someday but right now being respected and appreciated is wonderful. There are no words to describe the love and sense of family that is this league.”
The league called in Prim to captain as it lost 30 players, including seven captains, and postponed its spring season due to the pandemic. The former Texas Rangers ball girl has come off the sidelines to captain for Larry Goldstein’s Muckdogs.
“I was very surprised to get the call inviting me to captain but there’s been nothing but support,” said Prim, who met her husband Donald when the two played coed ball. “From the moment it was announced, I got congratulatory calls from people I’d yet to meet.”
Once it was determined the spring league would start, a new draft was held. The players of the missing captains’ teams and those teams who had missing players were part of the supplemental draft.
“I’m only sorry I’m not out on the field too; this is the first opener I’ve missed since we started the league. I’ll be back though because I negotiated my ‘contract’ until at least my 100th birthday,” said Bob Weinfeld, who turns 94 July 20. He is a league co-founder and captain of the Pirates since Day One. “They’re here for the good of the league and that’s what counts,” he says of Prim and Shwarts.
League members, ages 18 to Weinfeld’s almost 94, returned to a changed game. All participants and fans must adhere to social distancing guidelines at Allen’s Spirit Park, Frisco’s Shawnee Trails and Plano’s Heritage Park. Masks are recommended and no more than six players — separated by 6 feet — can be in the dugout at once. A 6-foot distance is required among the catcher, batter and umpire. All players are asked to bring their own chairs and to not sit in the existing seating.
“Sunday mornings at 8 a.m. are prime weekend time but I’ve fallen in love with these guys, and pandemic or not, I’d rather play in a hazmat suit than to not have the games go on,” said Prim. She’s happy to be involved even if women weren’t part of the original picture. “It’s named for Temple Shalom’s Brotherhood and a brotherhood is exactly what it is and we don’t want to take away from that.”