August 10, 2021 - On this night, the grass leading to Brown Deer Field 2 was drenched from recent rains. And had we played a 7PM game, another storm would have forced cancellation. Your Black Hats were therefore fortunate to continue this season of enjoyment and face Temple Shalom. We had the closest margin of any game this year. And no injuries meant another win in the way that matters most.

Around the horn: pitcher Avner (Jake) Lechter (more on Jake below); Joel Altman-Shafer and Joel Winston, catcher; David Smulyan, first base; Seth Brauner, second base; Josh Liberman, shortstop; Andrew Gorman, third base; and Sam Smulyan, Levi Shmotkin, Yossi Bassman, and Yossi Duboff in the outfield.

A few stellar moments: overall, the outfield defense has carried this team. On this night it was the infield’s turn. The Black Hats turned two double plays, including an outfield putout in left center and subsequent throw to first base as well as Seth’s stellar awareness to throw the ball to first with David’s long stretch at that base to beat out the runner; Andrew displayed his cannon arm at third to beat out a runner at first. Temple Shalom’s pitcher was a spin master so hits were not plentiful. Levi went 2 for 3 including a triple and Andrew, Josh, Joel Altman-Shafer, and David had line shots.

Faces in the bleachers included Mitch Spector and Arlene Dombeck as well as members from the Kittner, Brauner, and Avner Lechter families. As always, thank you for your terrific support.

This week’s Black Hats spotlight focuses on Avner (Jake) Tarica Lechter. I have been looking forward to writing this piece all season. Frankly, it is often difficult for me to call this man Avner because when I first met him Jacob was a senior at Nicolet High School about to enroll at the University of Iowa. Jacob and buddies, Josh Cummins, CJ Goldberg, and Corey (at that time, not Chaim Shaul) Mirviss comprised the young talent and nucleus of the first couple years of the Black Hats’ existence. While we did not win a game the first year, it was fun watching these guys try to carry our team. And just like now, there were always smiles emanating from our squad (see the picture below).

Avner, son of Shul fixtures Mitchell and Clara Lechter, grew up in Milwaukee. One reason Avner joined the team was because Mitchell was a team founder; Mitchell greatly relished playing on the same team as his son. Avner has been our primary pitcher for many seasons; when he was living out of town and unavailable to the Black Hats, it was an adventure to see who could consistently hurl the ball near the plate. While Avner has set many team records, his proudest accomplishment is most Black Hats (and other team's players) tefillined.

Avner is a teacher at Bader Hillel High and a curriculum specialist. He and his family of Gavrielah, Moshe, and Nachum love to explore different parks and hiking trails around Wisconsin. Avner states "I always like to reminisce on the "glory days" of the Shul baseball team! It feels like we are bringing those days back!" He also states that he is thankful for having the team this summer and that the guys on the team are amazing! Avner, how right you are!

It has been a pleasure to see multiple generations of Lechters with Avner having a family of his own. His sons are core members of the Black Hats young farm team and in another decade hopefully Avner will have the opportunity to play on the same field as his sons. Avner, thank you for your many contributions to the Black Hats and our entire community!

This picture is from the very first Black Hats team. To provide an idea of how long this team has existed, Yoni (now age 21) is on my right side and Shoshi (now age 23) is on my left side. Looking at this wondrous array of talent, I am astonished we did not win every game!

Next week’s game is To Be Announced. The season is almost done so come out and cheer on your favorite team as we take the field.

Front row: Jon Gelfman; Harlan Wahrman; Joe Kasle and his sons; Jacob Lechter; Mitch Lechter

Back row:  Abe Ashkenazi; Gary Schutkin; Josh Cummins; Steve Bojan; Joel Altman-Shafer with Yoni and Shosi; Paul Schneider; Rabbi Avremi; Corey Mirviss