Sol died. I saw it yesterday…on line. He was 96.

Wanted to call Wido first, but it was 7AM—only four in his world. Walt, I knew was in Vegas (same problem). Heck, I wake the Kraut and Vicki gets mad! Ah! Snyder in his car—always a safe move.

“I thought he already died,” Bob offered. Evidently not.

I never met Sol; most of us hadn’t. Still, his largesse to a dozen or so unknown college kids enabled the “Glory Days” of their sandlot lives.
It was the late 60’s. Aging Ruby Wolfe, overlord of the dozen JCC
softball leagues had already taken a liking to Wieder. (And this was before Wieder was WIEDER). Now, off-season, and having grabbed our first title as Waxman Plumbing, we needed a new sponsor.

So for Alan, Ruby found Sol.

Sol wasn’t a family business playing off its ego; he wasn’t some local corporation looking to write-off. He was just a nice Jewish guy, humble in his absence, quietly helping out some nice Jewish kids.

And so for Sol… Ruby found us.

On the fields at Woodhill and the diamonds of Gordon Park teams were sponsored by commercial enterprise. In this Age Of Aquarius, multi-colored flashy uniforms were emblazoned Marshall Carpet, Premiere Industries, whatever. Our muted gray t-shirts, in old-fashioned black, block print read, quite simply: “SOL’S BOYS.”

“Who,” people would ask, “were Sol’s Boys?”
So for years on end we showed them.

We never had quite the funding of other teams. Each spring though, registration fees were paid, new balls showed up, and there was always cash money for tournament umps.

We played. We won. We were happy.

Heck, after a few seasons the pressed letters were crusting off the T’s, but none of us cared. All we really wanted was no rain on game days ‘cause the rest was bullshit. (And me? I was more apt to wear my shirt with jeans at night—more bent to strut Sol than Izod). We all were.

Indeed, the writers noted it. We weren’t uniformed when, under Kirtland’s lights, we made the ASA Sweet Sixteen. As such, the PD scribe, covering our epic upset of Angelo’s Pizza, wrote not of our hits, but of our “ragged outfits.” We wore his derision as our Red Badge Of Courage.

Once there was a rumor floating— he was coming. It was a Sunday morning and I can picture Ruby there, huddling with Alan. But Sol was private; there were no hellos; we never quite knew.

So he never met us. Never heard the gratitude we felt.

In time we moved on. To careers, marriages, children. To lives of ups, downs and inevitable plateaus. The Glory Days, over time, slid safely in our past, (where they belong).

We haven’t forgotten, though. None of us.

We haven’t forgotten the man we never met…whose name we proudly wore…

Each player, in his own way, still revels in our common bond, our common pride: Each of us was one of Sol’s Boys.

And for that, whether you want to hear it or not, Sol,

Thank you.

6 Responses to “THANKS….(FOR THE MEMORIES)”

  1. Jackie says:

    I hope that you’re able to pass your blog to Sol’s family…They’ll cherish it – believe me!

  2. alan wieder says:

    What memories B. Sunday mornings meeting at my house — I won’t disclose your choice of breakfast. For me I think it brought out the best and worst and probably all too often both at once. You bringing up Angelo’s Pizza brings a huge smile and recollections of an umpire, that unlike mose umpires, favored us and told the big team this isn’t Morgana — a reference of course to the premier league field. Also Shelly and Bobo striking out with men on and walking Barry Johnson every time to pitch to Donnie Smith (i think thats the name) who was the most feared power hitter in the city because he never did anything but hit very high fly balls to Ray Racila when we played them. Okay, enough for now — thanks for another blog on Sol’s Boys and thanks Ruby and Sol.

  3. bob says:

    I still have a Sol’s boy t shirt, red lettering, gray shirt, that I never wear but save so I never forget. That night at Kirtland was our Olympic moment. When I went on to broadcast softball a few years later I often would hear people, none of them knowing I was a Sol’s Boy, talking about what they thought was the biggest softball upset. We never thought it was an upset. We thought we could beat them again if we ever got the chance.

  4. alan wieder says:

    Hmmmmm. I thought it was an upset. Bob is right in the sense that we were insane in our arrogance — well beyond our talents. That said, we were really good but not in the sense of teams like Angelos where a half dozen guys were getting paid. Let’s just say that as we went off the field we certainly didn’t act as if it was business as usual. The sad thing was that we got beat in our next game and we could have/should have won. Maybe that too was part of our lovable arrogance. There are so many softball memories, we were all fortunate to have those experiences.

    p.s. Bob was our Vince Costello

  5. Editor says:

    Sol’s Boys didn’t openly disrespect other teams—they often played against friends or acquaintances—The fact was that they knew they were good, and didn’t care who else knew they knew. And they won. It was that polite cockiness that urked the umpires.

    They were the “It” team—so much so that Ron Pollack bailed on his lifelong friends, crossed the street, just to play third base and be one of Sol’s Boys. The Sunday morning he “came out” at Gordon Park—I can still picture it.

  6. Marc says:

    Sol’s Boys was for me the beginning of relationships I cherish. The common bond we all shared when we proudly walked on the field and always held our heads up high. The comraderie we shared, the laughter and stick-to-it-ness we had. The amazing softball IQ we shared and the way we always anaylized situations together. The drive and determination to win. These things have carried over for all of us one way or another in life. Those were the best of times(and sometimes the worst). I knew Joel and B when we were at Rowland, however, the relationships I formed again with them and the rest of Sol’s Boys will make me forever grateful. Thanks for the piece you wrote B and thanks for being there for us Sol.

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