Late last season I was moved to recall a childhood friend named Evan Radler. We knew each other for one baseball-laden summer and saw each other exactly once more when it was over. He grew up to be a rabbi who died well ahead of his time, two facts I discovered long after they occurred.
Somewhere in the middle of the offseason, I heard from Rabbi Radler’s widow, proving the you-never-know quotient remains unfathomably high in our digital age.
Mindy-Lu Radler Glickman (since remarried) was kind enough to share the following reasonably relevant anecdote with me — as reasonably relevant as an anecdote from 1999 regarding a guy I hadn’t seen since 1974 could be.
That is to say it has baseball in it.
We had just moved to Atlanta. Evan had recently started a new pulpit.
Evan was very cute and often irreverent. They did not know what to make of him. This was a congregation that since its inception had not known laughter during services.
Stan Kasten was a member of the synagogue. He generously invited us to sit in his seats during the playoffs. We ate boiled peanuts.
One Shabbat following a game that the Braves lost, Evan stood up and announced that the Braves don’t have a prayer. The following Shabbat, after a decisive loss, he closed the service this way:
“After much consideration, I realize that I erred last week when I said the Braves don’t have a prayer. They do. Please rise.
“Yitkadal, v’yitkadash shemay rabah…”
Everyone burst out laughing.
Even if you’re not a maven when it comes to the Hebrew language, you might have inferred what Evan was reciting was the Mourner’s Kaddish, which made his solemn intonation quite hilarious. And because it was said on behalf of the Braves (no disrespect to their gracious former president, who now runs the Dodgers)…well, we gotta love that.
In remembering Evan in September, I stressed how our preadolescent relationship at kosher Camp Avnet was mutually respectful despite our religious differences regarding choice of ballclub. Turns out that despite the Radlers eventually winding up in Queens, “where my kids seemed to have no choice but to be Mets fans,” Mindy reports with apparent empathy for our cause that “my son Tai chose the Yanks anyway.”
Well, you can’t have everything. But I do come away from this unexpected encounter with a heartening coincidence or something like it.
Mindy let me know that Evan nurtured a passion for fantasy adventure, which manifested itself in a book he was working on before his passing. In a beautiful gesture, Mindy recently published it as an e-book. It’s called The Flying Lion and it certainly merits a look if that’s your kind of genre.
The coincidence? I mentioned in my earlier post on Rabbi Radler that for no particularly discernible reason, I tended to conflate Evan and Jason when I first met my future blog partner. As you may know — and if you don’t, you should — Jason writes quite a bit in the science fiction arena when he’s not getting fed up with Spring Training and such. He’s in the midst of a series geared to young readers called The Jupiter Pirates, the first volume of which is available in all formats and is receiving enthusiastic reviews throughout the universe.
I won’t pretend to know a lot about this stuff, because I find Met reality far stranger than any fiction, but it’s written by Jason, so what else do you need to know to (as I hope you will with Evan’s work) check it out?