New commissioner keeps old unity of synagogue softball season

By David R. Cohen | david@atljewishtimes.com

Every summer for two decades, the Atlanta Jewish community has unified in friendly softball competition. On May 31, members of 19 synagogues will again take the field to see who can hit, throw and kvetch the best.

The Atlanta Men’s Synagogue Softball League fields 23 teams to play on Sundays in June, July and August. First-year AMSSL Commissioner Jason Evans said the league is unique in Atlanta.

“I don’t know about everything that goes on in this city,” Evans said. “But I would be surprised if there is anything that brings members of more congregations together interacting with other members of congregations than this league.”

The league is composed of three skill-level divisions, A, B and C. Congregation B’nai Torah has won the A Division, the top level, eight years in a row.

Jason Evans Softball

Jason Evans is in his first year of a two year commitment to be AMSSL Commissioner

“The goal of the A-league teams every year is to see if someone can beat B’nai Torah, and so far it has not happened,” Evans said.

Last year’s B champion was Congregation Ariel, and Temple Beth Tikvah won the C title.

Around 350 players participate from congregations as far north as Congregation Gesher L’Torah in Alpharetta and as far south as The Temple in Midtown. Games are played at parks around metro Atlanta to accommodate the geographic spread.

Evans, who plays for Temple Sinai’s C Division team, is serving the first year of his two-year commitment as commissioner of the league. He was chosen because of his background with youth baseball and scheduling experience with Northside Youth Organization sports. He succeeds Ben Nalder of Congregation Or Hadash.

“The fact that the league hasn’t changed much in 20 years is a testament to the fact that it works,” Evans said. “It’s still the same league that many of our fathers played in because it’s been successful and something that people have responded well to. There hasn’t really been a need to change it, which is a good thing.”

Among the few changes over the years are a move to playing fields that are all north of Atlanta — at the Marcus Jewish Community Center in Dunwoody, East Roswell Park and Ocee Park in Alpharetta — and the addition of umpires to call games. Originally games were played at the old JCC on Peachtree Street in Midtown, and teams had to agree on calls.

Even with umpires, teams sometimes have trouble supporting the calls, Evans said. “Hey, we wouldn’t be Jews if we didn’t argue over this and that now and then.”

The 2015 Lineup

Here are the congregations competing in this summer’s synagogue softball season. The full schedule can be found at www.atlsynagoguesoftball.org.

A Division

Ahavath Achim

Beth Tefillah

B’nai Torah

Chabad

Dor Tamid 1

Or VeShalom

Sinai 1

Temple 1

B Division

Ariel

Beth Shalom

Beth Tikvah 1

Dor Tamid 2

Emanu-El

Etz Chaim

Gesher L’Torah

Young Israel

C Division

Bet Haverim

Beth Jacob

Beth Tikvah 2

Kol Emeth

Or Hadash

Sinai 2

Temple 2