In 1954, the city of Beachwood started a men’s softball league with about 35 members.
Over the years, it has grown to more than 130 members from communities all over Northeast Ohio. Without too much argument, the league added fathers and sons and yearly drafts to get as many people as possible to play together.
There are many people responsible for the growth of the league. Larry Adelman, one of the four commissioners, has served in that position since 2011. His son, Todd, is and has been good enough to play at any level of the softball-rich Cleveland area. And this year, for a couple of games, Larry, Todd and Todd’s son, Reid, have teamed up for the coveted honor of triple teaming opponents. It is believed that only the Ralph Gilbert family has also played in the league through three generations.
Larry, 80, a Cleveland Heights High School graduate, has been a staple of east side softball since the Rube Wolfe Jewish Recreation Council days. But now, the fiery shortstop is called upon to deal with disputes that he, at one time, might have started. The softer and milder Larry always has the final say, whether it is an umpire dispute, scheduling problem or any other issue behind the scenes.
One of my most memorable softball events with Larry took place more than 30 years ago, when we gave him the job of making sure the waiters team at the Nevele in the Catskills in New York knew which week the Cleveland team would be there. Apparently, the waiters and others that were recruited rarely lost to the guest teams, except when the Clevelanders showed up to play in early August.
Injuries are part of the game, and Larry has had more than his fair share. I have seen over the years many players wear them as a badge of courage, and can’t wait for the next season to start. Same thing with trophies that are won each year.
Under Larry Adelman’s guidance, the league has added a website, beachwoodmenssoftball.com, an old-timers game and a hall of fame. His grandson, Caden Vincent, can hold his own with any sports talker in town, as evidenced by his appearances at the annual Cleveland Jewish News “Les is More” events in the spring. Larry and Joanne have been married 58 years, and she has seen more than her fair share of softball games.
Powell passes away
Speaking of Cleveland softball, one of the all-time greats, Preston Powell, died last week. Powell, who was one of the early home run hitters at Morgana Park in Cleveland, was introduced to the game while he was a running back behind Jim Brown of the Cleveland Browns in the 1960s. Former Browns players fondly recall a fight the two running backs had at a practice, where Powell held his own.