Keep Reading for a full recap of your 2021 Shul Blackhats!

Tuesday, August 24 - Your Black Hats ended this season in everglade conditions (minus alligators).  Rain nearly forced cancellation of all games but the JCC Commissioner persevered and so did the Black Hats.  That we fell short was not due to lack of effort.  Rabbi Avremi had just arrived at the game and entered during the inning; he instantaneously made a good catch at first for the inning’s final putout.  Sender crushed a home run.  David consistently found the plate with his pitches.  Joel Winston and Avremi both had solid base hits.  And thank you Alex Tick for stepping in and playing excellent defense!

Around the horn: pitcher David Smulyan; Joel Winston, catcher; Avremi Schapiro, first base; Seth Brauner, second base; Alex Tick, shortstop; Andrew Gorman, third base; and Sam Smulyan, Ross Abrams, Sender Kittner, and Joel Altman-Shafer (first time in a dozen years) in the outfield.

Fans included members of the Brauner. Kittner, and Gorman families.  Thanks to the many fans who attended this season; we had exceptional fan support throughout.  The Black Hats wish everyone a very Happy New Year with only good things.


Tuesday, August 17 - This game was dedicated to team founder Mitch Lechter, who was unable to attend this contest.  On this night, Black Hats bats were on fire!  We scored a season high six runs in the first inning.  Sam started the contest with a double that inspired the rest of the lineup.  We ultimately fell behind but never gave up.  Nearly every player had at least one run scored, RBI, and/or smash hit as we manufactured double digit production resulting in the closest margin of any game this year.  Once again, deduct a single inning and the Black Hats reign victorious.  Being the classy squad we are, at times the Black Hats continued its giving ways.  As soon as we learn that while most giving is good stinginess is OK with baseball, the left side of the ledger will be filled.  And as I like to say, no injuries meant yet another win in the way that matters most.

Around the horn: pitcher Avner (Jake) Lechter; Joel Altman-Shafer and Joel Winston, catcher; Sender Kittner, first base; Seth Brauner, second base; Sruli Robbins (making his season debut and a fine one at that!), shortstop; Andrew Gorman, third base; and Sam Smulyan, Levi Shmotkin, Ross Abrams (who even though announced he was done for the year could not resist coming back!), and Yossi Duboff in the outfield.

Many magical moments: Andrew did his best Graig Nettles impersonation with a stellar snatch of a screaming one hopper at third and then gracefully stepped on that bag for a forceout.  Seth enjoyed a perfect game at the plate.  Ross scorched a triple at the end of the game.  Both Yossi and Levi crushed balls that I was sure would result in homers only to see the outfielder in Fredonia make the catch.  Avner and David had run producing line shots.  And even yours truly had a solid base hit.  When the competition uttered “nice game” at the conclusion, they meant it.

I thought it might be interesting to have a picture of fans in attendance albeit from a side view.  Fans present but not shown include Mitch Spector and members of the Brauner, Lechter, and Altman-Shafer families (including our recent graduate daughter Shoshi from Chicago).  As always, thank you for your unparalleled support.

This week’s Black Hats spotlight shines upon a father-son doubleheader: Sam and David Smulyan.  Sam has been our primary leadoff hitter since he first started playing with the squad several seasons ago and provides a steadying presence in the outfield.  Sam consistently plays a significant role when we have a splashy inning.  While Sam delights our fans with his gifted athleticism, diving and twisting for spectacular plays, he also is sure handed with the more routine.  He is a gambler on the basepaths (which does not always amuse his father) but generally advances to scoring position or tallies that run.  While we do not tabulate advanced stats (maybe we should), it is likely that Sam is our leading scorer this season.  Sam is our most popular player with the fans and leads the team with most requests for autographs.  The Black Hats have been the beneficiaries of Sam’s friends joining him at several games.  Because of players like Sam and our farm system, the future looks very bright.  Thank you, Sam!

And David?  First and foremost, David is a mensch.  David has done an outstanding job as the Black Hats manager this season.  Being the leader of our squad requires fortitude and patience; David has those qualities in spades.  While he is competitive during Black Hats clashes, he invariably leads the postgame kids’ contests for our thriving farm system as he did on this night. 

David has not played much in the field this season, choosing to concentrate on his manager duties and making sure that each player participates and succeeds as much as possible.  When he has played it has been mostly at first base with a few innings logged on the pitching mound.  He has recently put himself in the batting lineup on a regular basis.  He is an aggressive hitter who has gotten his share of base hits.

Personally, I have greatly enjoyed many Black Hats moments as manager and David as coach and now vice versa.  No matter the score, we always find a way to find the positive and have fun with the entire squad. 

David has contributed to the Shul and to all of Milwaukee in a multitude of ways.  He is very civic minded and deeply committed to his various communities.  He has served as the President of the Fox Point - Bayside School Board and on the Bayside Planning Commission. He also served in officer capacities on the Board of two of the Ovation Community locations — the main campus downtown and Terova (formerly known as the Sarah Chudnow Campus). But most of all, he is immensely proud of his family (as well he should be): Sam, daughter Stephanie, and wife Betty. 

The Smulyan family has contributed immensely to the Black Hats fabric; thank you for all that you do!

I cannot remember the last season we had such a tight knit group with the Black Hats.  It has been such a pleasure to watch so many families become an integral part of our team!  Thank you all so much!

Next week’s contest, our last of the season, is To Be Announced but might be found elsewhere in the ETorah.  Attend our finale and become the roar of the crowd!


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

August 3, 2021 - Despite some thunder rumblings from the heavens, August 3 turned into another terrific night for baseball.  The JCC league office is so infatuated with your Black Hats that they demanded we play two games.  Our first contest was versus BBYO and then, like last week, we faced semipro Congregation Beth Israel Ner Tamid.  The first game was our closest of the season; take away one inning and we played to a draw.  Rabbis like to stress the difference between charity and Tzedakah; while we should give Tzedakah on a regular basis, the Black Hats need to learn to be a bit less charitable to our respected opponents (this seems to run counter to our very giving nature).  Most importantly, nobody got hurt and there were many smiles/laughter on this night.

Around the horn: pitcher Avner (Jake) Lechter; the two Joels, Altman-Shafer and Winston, catcher; Cheski Edelman (welcome back) and David Iancu, first base; Yossi Bassman and David Iancu, second base; Josh Liberman, shortstop; Andrew Gorman, third base; and Ross Abrams, Sam Smulyan, Levi Shmotkin, and Yossi Duboff in the outfield.  Sender Kittner also made his season debut.  I want to give a “shout out” to Ross Abrams who may have played in his season finale.  In his rookie season, Ross solidified the outfield and provided our lineup with some speed.  Thank you, Ross; we look forward to next season with you!

A few stellar moments: Avner smashed a two run homer!  Levi had several RBIs; Andrew and Josh both had sparkling unassisted putouts; Sam had yet another spectacular diving grab in the outfield along with two RBIs; and Joel Winston made an exciting putout at the plate which prevented a run from scoring.  To further entertain the fans and in the spirit of the Olympics, an impromptu bat throw contest happened during the first game; Cheski Edelman won the gold medal and David Smulyan received the silver.

Faces in the bleachers included Mitch Spector and Arlene Domnitz, Sara Abrams, and members from the Kittner, Cabrera, and Avner Lechter families.  As always, thank you for your support.

This week’s Black Hats spotlight shines upon Josh Liberman.  While most spotlights this year have focused on the many Black Hats newcomers we have been fortunate to welcome, Josh contacted me over a decade ago to ask about joining the team.  Now THAT is dedication! 

Josh grew up in Sharon, MA.  He is a highly regarded cardiologist with Ascension Columbia Saint Mary’s.  Josh and his wife Lindy have three kids: Hannah, Nathan and Leah.  Josh and his family have been fixtures at the Shul for many years.  They enjoy taking family trips, especially to new places; unfortunately, their trip to Israel was cancelled last summer due to COVID.

Josh’s favorite foods are vegetarian: beans, lentils, and broccoli.  He eats a plant-based diet, very healthy for the heart which can help treat or even prevent many chronic diseases.  Josh is an assistant coach for his son’s travel baseball team; Josh admits he sometimes gets jealous seeing his son play regularly and this is another reason he enjoys his time with the Black Hats.

Josh has played a variety of positions for the Black Hats (possibly everything except pitcher); this year, he has particularly excelled in the infield.  He is an excellent contact hitter who shows flashes of power.  Josh has played in most games this season and is a strong presence both in our lineup and with our comradery.  Personally, I think this has been Josh's best season with us.  Josh, thank you for all that you do!

An impromptu kid’s match took place after our games with all participants getting on base.  Our farm system continues to thrive; in ten years we will be unstoppable!

Next week’s game is at 6 PM at Brown Deer field #2.  Come join us and see why the JCC wants more Black Hats!


July 27, 2021 - We are grateful that July 27 provided us with yet another beautiful night for baseball. Your Black Hats squared off against Congregation Beth Israel Ner Tamid with its seemingly limitless pool of talent from which to draw. If one took away two innings from our game, the Black Hats would have secured a victory. I do not say a “win” because every night that the Black Hats play together without injury is a win.

We are seeing weekly progress with your Black Hats. Players are unafraid to try new positions to help the entire team in any possible way. Our comradery has never been stronger.

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

A few stellar moments: Levi had two RBIs; Yossi Bassman almost single handedly provided all the putouts for an entire inning; and David and Avner both scorched line shots too hot for the defense to handle. We were short on players on this night, so Manager David and Coach Joel Winston were pressed into action. All of that said, the clear highlight of the night was Joel Winston providing critical energy to the team and scoring what will always be known as a “stealth” run. He singled and then moved to each base (“station to station”, mostly on ground balls) in a wily manner before scoring; the opposition never knew what hit them. Now THAT is an unforgettable season debut!

Faces in the bleachers included Craig Abrams and members from the Brauner, Cabrera, and Avner Lechter families. As always, thank you for your strong support.

This week’s Black Hats spotlight focuses on Joel Winston. Joel grew up on the northwest side of Milwaukee; he attended John Marshall High School. Joel’s grandfather was a member of Beth Jehudah with Rabbi Twerski, developed a personal connection with him, and became an integral part of that synagogue. Joel is married to Nancy (a therapist and pianist/accompanist) and they have two kids: daughter Nicole who works locally at Pet Supplies Plus and son Andrew, a software engineer at Epic in Madison. Joel has four siblings including an identical twin. Joel is a psychotherapist who specializes in hypnosis; he shares a practice with two brothers. Joel is an ardent fan of the local sports teams: Packers, Brewers (including a stint as a Brewers cheerleader), and Bucks. Joel is also a gardener and enjoys fishing.

Joel initially joined the Black Hats a few years ago when Rabbi Cheski held a meeting. Shortly after this meeting, Joel developed a friendship with David Cabrera as a neighbor; Joel eventually returned to the team to help support the Cabrera family. Joel has enjoyed his affiliation with the Shul; he sees the Shul as a kind, caring place. How right he is!! We are so glad that Joel is part of the team.

An impromptu kid’s game took place on grass (the field was being used) after our contest with all participants getting on base. Our farm system looks very strong!

Next week’s game is To Be Announced. The weather has been great; come join us and spend some quality family time both with your own brood and the Black Hats family.


July 13, 2021 - The morning of July 13 was overcast and saw intermittent rain; the night turned out to be ideal for baseball!  Your Black Hats faced the squad loosely defined as Temple Emanuel.  Dissatisfied with its home grown talent, Emanuel recruited far and wide to secure some of the area's best athletes; despite these efforts, after the exhibition first inning your Black Hats electrified the crowd with a record setting performance and outscored Emanuel the rest of the way including a season high five run outburst to end the game!  Unfortunately, after some consultation it was decided the first inning would count.  All kidding aside, your Black Hats have come together and more often than not we are a competent team that relishes playing together.

Around the horn (with some eventual switches): pitcher Avner (Jake) Lechter; Joel Altman-Shafer, second base/catcher; David Iancu, first base; Seth Brauner, catcher/second base; Yossi Duboff (more on Yossi below), shortstop; Andrew Gorman, third base; and Ross Abrams, Sam Smulyan, Josh Liberman, and Aaron Arbiture in the outfield.

First, the Black Hats would like to extend thanks to major league baseball for postponing their all star game start time to allow us to play first and for permitting Sam Smulyan to miss his all star selection so he could play with our team.

A few of many highlights:

  • Sam went 3 for 3.
  • "Jake" smacked two RBIs and his pitching was around the plate the entire night; he also set a personal record for most men tefillined with 10.  
  • Yossi cranked a bases loaded triple for 3 RBIs!  
  • Andrew was a vacuum at third base and his defense included a couple of sparkling putouts.  
  • For the first inning after many years behind the plate, Coach Smulyan placed yours truly at second base.  Despite feeling like a fish out of water, I managed to not make any errors; Seth then upgraded the position with great instincts and nimble fielding.  
  • After an Emanuel line drive hit to the outfield, Sam scooped it up, made a terrific throw to cutoff player Jake, and Jake threw it to Seth at second base as the hitter attempted to stretch his single into a double; this was recorded as a rare 8-1-4 putout and an example of quintessential teamwork!   

With all of these highlights, while team performance and not individual accolades is most critical, this night belonged to Josh Liberman.  After a few weeks absence that clearly made him hungry to return to the field, with one of his kids in attendance Josh displayed absolute excellence both in the field (infield AND outfield) and at the plate.  Josh set a personal record with four sensational putouts.  Josh is a long time Black Hats player; I have never seen him play as well as he did last night.  Kudos, Josh!!

Faces in the bleachers included Craig Abrams, Sara Abrams, Lisa Glick, and members from the Brauner, Liberman, and Avner Lechter families; the Cabrera family was sorely missed.  I have also been remiss for not sufficiently thanking camp counselors for regularly attending games and making their presence felt.  Both the Black Hats and Emanuel felt everyone's presence.  Thank you to all!

This week’s Black Hats spotlight shines upon Yossi Duboff.  Yossi was born in New York and lived the first two years of his life in New Jersey.  He moved to the west side of Milwaukee a few months before his third birthday and then moved to Mequon at age five where he has lived since.

He learns in yeshiva full time and has learned in Postville, Iowa since 8th grade.  This past year, he was in a yeshiva in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.  He spent the past four summers in Iowa until he reached out to Rabbi Avremi.  Rabbi Avremi gave him a counselor job at CGI Milwaukee; Yossi is counselor and Golan Altman-Shafer (my son) is co-counselor for the Pioneers, boys grade 5-7.

Yossi comes from a family of eight kids where he is the second oldest.  Yossi's brother in law is Noach Linton.  Yossi is spending the summer with most of his family including his three youngest siblings and his parents which he finds to be a wonderful experience.

Yossi enjoys sports in general and loves to learn and meet new people.  We have admired Yossi's significant increase in plate production; he can also efficiently play numerous fielding positions.  Yossi has been a terrific addition to the Black Hats.  Welcome to the team, Yossi!  We are very glad you are here.

A kids game took place after our contest with more smiles all around.

Next week starts the second half of our season on Tuesday, July 20th at 6:00pm at Brown Deer 2.  The Black Hats WILL crack the left side of the ledger some time this season.  Come join us and witness history!



July 6th Game Recap

July 6, 2021 -  On a night when storms were initially forecast so we felt fortunate to play, your Black Hats faced perennially challenging Metro/Doctor Dog.  One hour before game time, many attended the bris of newly named Chaim Benyamin Stein, son of Rabbi Levi and Leah Stein, at the Friendship Circle Cafe.  As I left the ceremony, Rabbi Stein issued the edict to “go out and win!” for his new son.  And immediately prior to the contest, to increase hitting discipline, Coach David Smulyan told each player they must take the first pitch or ride the pines.  David, having cut his managerial chops coaching Sam in Little League for 8 years, realized that even older players need a more disciplined plate approach.  The result: your Black Hats had a record number of walks on this night.  Levi Shmotkin clubbed a home run and launched a second ball even further that was caught in Kenosha by the left fielder.  Yossi Bassman had a two RBI hit.  Sam Smulyan nearly duplicated his surreal running catch from two weeks ago.  During the game, the Metro pitcher pulled a hamstring but remained on the field and also batted; with his last at bat, what would normally have been a base hit to left turned into an unusual 7-4-3 putout for the Black Hats.  Finally, the Black Hats infield has become more comfortable with each other and has grown accustomed to attempting double plays.

Superbly solid defense allowed Metro only one run in the first inning.  Your Black Hats brimmed with confidence and remained competitive for most of the game.  And while ultimately neither rabbinic edict nor coach’s ultimatum helped carry the squad to victory, the Black Hats earned Metro’s respect and delighted the crowd.  To my recollection, every player had at least one solid defensive play.

Around the horn: pitcher Avner (Jake) Lechter found his groove and created dust bowls with his strikeouts; Joel Altman-Shafer, catcher; Seth Brauner, first base (more on Seth below); Joe Prus, second base; Rabbi Yossi Bassman, shortstop; Andrew Gorman, third base; and Ross Abrams, Sam Smulyan, Levi Shmotkin, and Yossi Duboff in the outfield.

Faces in the bleachers included Craig Abrams, Sara Abrams, Lisa Glick, and members from the Brauner, Cabrera, and Avner Lechter families.  Special guests were Seth Brauner’s parents Mark and Cindy; Seth’s father even served as first base coach and did an excellent job (thank you!). 

This week’s Black Hats spotlight shines upon Seth Brauner.  While Seth grew up in Tucson, Seth and his family moved to Milwaukee in October 2020 from Orlando, FL for a job opportunity working with the VA.  Seth’s job title is Veterans Service Representative; he processes disability claims for veterans.  Seth's wife Stephanie will be the new social studies teacher at Bader Hillel Academy, replacing former Black Hat Michael Tepper.  The Brauners have already made a significant impact on the Shul by sponsoring several kiddushes, the most recent in honor of Seth’s 40th birthday and Jeremy’s 10th birthday.  The Brauners have one more son: Zachary, age 8.  The Brauners enjoy traveling, outdoor hiking, going to baseball and hockey games, and going to amusement parks like Disney and Six Flags.  The Brauners also enjoy getting together with other families so children and adults can make connections.  Seth stated the Brauners are thankful for the kindness everyone in the Shul has shown these past eight months in welcoming their family to the community. 

Seth has become adept at playing whatever infield position he has been called upon.  He also hit the Black Hats first home run of the season!  Welcome to Milwaukee, Brauner family!!  We are glad you are here!

Even though this was a 6PM game, the field was available afterwards for a kids game.  All kids got on base.

Next week starts the second half of our season with game times and locations To Be Announced.  Limited tickets are still available on a first come first served basis (or in this case bases).  Please join us and enjoy some quality baseball and friendship!


June 22nd Game Recap 

with Guest Columnist, David Smulyan!

June 22, 2021 - On a beautiful summer evening your Black Hats, with a strong player turnout of 14, took on a small but very talented BBYO crew of just 9 players. The player turnout this year has been phenomenal. Our player roster has over 20 players. Moreover, the energy and enthusiasm of the Black Hat players and the growing fan base is second to no other team in the league. On this night the Black Hat bleachers were filled with a number of families as well as a large contingent of Camp Gan Izzy counselors who showed up to cheer on the team.  

After the first inning, the Black Hats played the BBYO’ers fairly even for the next five innings, with BBYO tallying 9 runs and the Black Hats garnering 6 runs.  Three of the Black Hats runs came on a towering 3-run homer by Levi Shmotkin.  However, on this night, the longest Tuesday of the year, it was the stellar defense that stood out most for the Black Hats.  Yossi Bassman was a vacuum cleaner at shortstop.  There were many ground balls hit his way during the game and he scooped them up with the ease of a seasoned veteran.  The infield highlight of the game was a double play where Yossi fielded a ground ball and tagged the runner going from second to third base and then threw to our second baseman who got the runner going from first to second on a force out.

The Black Hats outfield is made up of some budding superstars, all of whom are teenagers or in their early twenties. I’m here to tell you, with players like these, the future of the Black hats looks bright.  Ross Abrams, making only his second appearance this year, continued to impress in left field. Sam Smulyan playing left center showed he could cover a lot of ground chasing down fly balls, even with an injured foot. Levi Shmotkin playing right center made several nice plays and showed real determination in tracking down fly balls, including a diving attempt to snag a ball that left him just short and with a bruised knee to show for it. Out in right field Yossi Dubov rounded out this defensive quartet by providing solid defense. The outfield highlight of the game came on a play where the most powerful BBYO batter smashed a shot to deep left field very close to the trees.  It flew over Ross’s head and looked like it was a home run for sure.  But at the last second, Sam Smulyan came sprinting from left center field at full stride, and with his right arm fully extended, he dived and caught the ball in a miraculous fashion, robbing the bewildered batter of a home run and bringing the Black Hats fans to their feet.

Next Tuesday June 29, the Blackhats play Emanu-El at 7 PM at Brown Deer #2. And your favorite baseball columnist Joel Altman-Shafer will be back with his witty writing and signature player spotlight.


Editors Note:  Be sure to join us for Family Night with the Blackhats!  More information here. 


June 15th Game Recap

June 15, 2021 - On yet another stellar night for baseball, your Black Hats played a doubleheader against stout competition: Rollies (formerly Anshai Lebowitz) and Temple of Doom.  Early on this day, it was evident that many regulars would be unavailable.  Through frenetic communication (thanks WhatsApp!), we cobbled together a lineup considerably different than any so far this season.  New players included Rabbi Avremi Schapiro, Levi Shmotkin, Yossi Duboff, and Ross Abrams (more on Ross below).  We certainly hope these players become regular participants.  Another first was the Black Hats initial home run of the season, courtesy of a booming blast from newcomer Seth Brauner.  Seth also scorched a few other screaming liners. 

From out of retirement, David Smulyan made his way back to the pitching mound, providing a break for regular starter Avner (Jake) Lechter who adeptly manned the difficult shortstop position; David displayed pinpoint accuracy and a repertoire of curveballs and offspeed pitches to his customary backstop Joel Altman-Shafer.  Isaak Lerner made his presence felt, getting on base a few times which delighted his wonderful kids.  Rabbi Cheski smashed the ball into smithereens and got on base several times.

Faces in the bleachers included Nathan Bojan (welcome back, Nathan!), Craig Abrams, Sara Abrams, Lisa Glick, and members from the Brauner, Cabrera, and Avner Lechter families. 

For the second part of game 1 and the first part of game 2, your Black Hats were highly competitive; we even outscored the opposition in the final two innings of game 1!  While the friendship and comradery has always been tightly knit, we expect this type of athletic performance to continue as the team gels together.

After the game, a kids’ contest took place; here is a picture of those participants along with some adults:

Today’s Black Hats spotlight shines upon Ross Abrams.  Ross is a recent Nicolet High School graduate (Mazel Tov!) and will be heading to UWM.  Ross excels in many areas including music and robotics.  What was unknown until last night is that he also thrives in softball.  After a brief foray in the infield, Ross played the highly demanding left field position with aplomb and veteran guile well beyond his rookie status.  He made difficult plays look routine and enjoyed himself both in the field and at the plate.  Ross, it was terrific to have you with us and we hope you make Tuesday night softball a regular part of your week!

Next Tuesday, June 22, the Black Hats play at 6PM at Kletzch 1.  Come on out, bring the family, and cheer for your team!


June 8th Game Recap

On an absolutely beautiful night for baseball (and for that matter simply being outdoors; on the way home there were MANY people walking), your Black Hats squared off against Chabad of Downtown.  Bleachers were filled with fans of all ages.  The Black Hats had its most explosive inning to date.  Great plays were made, runs were scored, and fun was had by all.  And yes, Chabad won the game!  Well...I am referring to the Downtown version.  The Downtown team has been extremely competitive for many years as highly accomplished players gravitate to that squad.

While the Black Hats have yet to crack the win column, there has been "electricity in the air" at every Black Hats game this season.  It has been several years since we have had a fan base as staunch as we do now.

The 2021 Black Hats are fortunate to feature several new players; one such player is Andrew Gorman.  Andrew and his family—wife Debbie and sons Daniel (age 10) and Jack (age 8)--moved to Milwaukee from the Chicago suburbs very recently, in April 2020. Debbie and Andrew are originally from St. Louis.  Andrew serves as General Counsel for Brady Corporation, manufacturer of ID products and "a global leader in safety, identification, and compliance solutions".  It is important to point out that Andrew selected Milwaukee over an opportunity in Paris, France!!  Paris' loss is our gain.  The Gormans live in Fox Point, not far from the Shul.

 A few more tidbits about Andrew.  He heard about the Black Hats from his wife via Rabbi Cheski.  He plays an aggressive third base, often standing at least even with the bag, and already has had some strong at bats this season.  He was captain of the water polo team in high school and also served as an ASA certified umpire for several years.  Finally, he is a proud Cardinals fan.

A very warm welcome to Andrew and his family!  Thank you for joining the Black Hats.

Next Tuesday, June 15, the Black Hats play a doubleheader: 6PM at Kletzch 3 and 7PM at Kletzch 1.  Come on out, bring the family, and cheer for your team!


May 25th Game Pictures and Recap

May 25th Game Recap
Written By Joel Altman-Shafer

On May 25, 2021, your Black Hats took the field to play a doubleheader at Kletzsch Park.  On this night, final scores were irrelevant; what mattered is that David Cabrera's family (wife Ilana, sons Levi and Benjamin, and David's inlaws James and Debbie Schwartz) had the opportunity to enjoy a beautiful evening surrounded by a bleacher full of supportive community members and teammates. It was a meaningful evening as Levi (9) and Benjamin (7) Cabrera threw out the ceremonial first pitch in memory of their Daddy, David Cabrera, a beloved member of the Black Hats' team.

The Shul has always done an incredible job of stepping up to provide comfort and this night was certainly no different.  During the games, Levi and Benjamin played catch with friends.  After the games were over, a few of us including Ilana, Aaron and Eitan Arbiture, and David Smulyan took the field to give Levi and Benjamin some batting practice.  From a Black Hats perspective, I wish that both boys were 18 because each stroked some of the cleanest hits seen all night.  What started off as a special evening ended in the best possible way.  

The night was made complete thanks to Mitchell Spector who took some terrific pictures. A collage of his pictures are below. 

David Cabrera was our best player.  He was our star left fielder who anchored our outfield; he effortlessly made difficult running catches and almost always the routine plays.  He also provided critical stability to our batting lineup, often hitting third.  As impactful as David was as a player, he was an even better teammate; always encouraging others.  His wonderful smile and demeanor were ever present; his voice could be heard when the Black Hats made a good play.  David was always a welcome presence for the entire team.

This season, it will be our privilege and honor to wear a special Black Hats tshirt with David Cabrera's name on the front and sponsors Bykhovsky Law/Attorneys at Law, Karp/Iancu Attorneys at Law, and Lerner Consulting names on the back.  David will always be part of our team.  We hope that Ilana, Levi, and Benjamin Cabrera attend as many Black Hats games as possible; nothing would mean more.  So no matter what the score, it will be as team founder Mitch Lechter would like to say, a "perfect season".