Softball tournament held in memory of Katyusha victim

More than 40 players, coaches and umpires from the Israel Softball Association participate in a tournament held in memory of catcher Dave Lelchook.

Dave Lelchook 88 (photo credit: )
Dave Lelchook 88
(photo credit: )
More than 40 players, coaches and umpires from the Israel Softball Association participated in a tournament held on Friday in memory of Dave Lelchook, a former national softball team player who was killed by a Katyusha rocket during last summer's Second Lebanon War. The Dave Lelchook Memorial Softball Mini-Tournament was played at Kibbutz Shomrat. Lelchook, a catcher on Israel's national softball team in the 1989 Maccabiah Games, was killed by a Katyusha rocket on a pathway just outside his Kibbutz Saar home. The organizers of the event invited teams in the ISA to send one or two or three players each to the game. The hope was that there would be enough ballplayers to play the game. The organizers also hoped that perhaps two dozen spectators might show up. They got the word out through the newspapers and on the Web. On Friday 42 players, coaches and umpires arrived in uniform ready to play and officiate. A crowd of more than 100 was on hand, including Steve Goldman, a former Adamit-Shomrat playing coach, who travelled all the way from New York City. Dave's mother Doris, sister Judy, brother Alex, and nephew Noah, all came from Boston, while his wife Estie Lelchook and daughters Yael and Michal of Kibbutz Saar were guests of honor. There were moving opening and memorial ceremonies. There was music. Free ice cream and drinks were provided. There was a family atmosphere alongside the tribute to Dave Lelchook and his family. Bill Arscott, Dave's pitcher and battery mate on the Shomrat Cubs during the 1980s and 1990s, shared his thoughts and feelings one year after. "In a way, this gentle giant is immortal to me. A day doesn't go by when I don't hear his voice in my head. I miss my catcher. I miss my friend. I miss my brother. I miss our Dave," he said. Play-by-play announcers took turns calling the games in English, Hebrew and Spanish. While only one game had been planned, the number of players who came to play allowed for a quick realignment from a single game into a three-team mini-tournament. Players from different league teams combined to form the three tournament teams. The managers of the teams were Ed Friedman and Yehuda Beinin, two of the founders of the ISA 30 years ago, and Rabbi Bob Samuels, a veteran softball league stalwart and an elected member of the Brandeis University Sports Hall of Fame. Each of the managers played in the games. All three reached base, Beinin and Samuels on solid base hits, and Friedman with his hustle causing a throwing error. Ron Blumenthal of Eilat Flames and Roni Bossin of the Tel Aviv Tigers alternated in left field for Team Bob. Both made fine running catches as if they were in mid-season form and not on a mid-summer break from softball. Tim Cummings of the Galil Twisters and Tal Beinin of the Israel Women's National Team combined on a shortstop to catcher throw and tag for a bang-bang put out for Team Yehuda. Beinin had just returned from the national team's successful appearance in the European Tournament in Croatia. Team Ed captured the tournament title with one win and one tie. Team Yehuda finished second with one win and one loss. Team Bob was third with one loss and one tie. A ruling by the tournament commissioner turned a 4-1 Team Bob lead over Team Yehuda in the top of the third and final inning of their game into a Team Yehuda victory, 1-0. The tournament rules required a reversion to the score at the end of the previous inning if the game was not completed within forty minutes. Calling the games were ISA umpires Howie Litz, Bob Kessler, Shmuel Goldstein, Brian Aron and Goose Gillett. Gillett, of the ISA executive, presented the Lelchook family with two balls signed by the players. Gadi Bossin presented memorial tournament souvenir certificates to the family. Rabbi Shimon Gorelik of Nahariya, a personal friend of Dave's, spoke and then chanted El Maleh Rachamim. Jonathan Friedland, US Consul in Haifa, also addressed the gathering, as did Rabbi Bob Samuels and Alex Lelchook, Dave's brother.