In Fair Lawn’s B’nai Brith adult softball league, most teams take after their moniker. In the Hank Greenberg division, the first-place Sea Dogs are the top dogs. The Tailgaters look like they showed up early, with heady play that puts them just behind the Dogs. And the Noshers, at a stellar 4-1, are eating up the competition.
This year — for the first time in a decade — the "Rambammers" are still around at mid-season. At 4-3, Jerry Schranz’s club has a dozen games left to try to clinch their first playoff berth since Michael Jordan was playing baseball. Schranz, the team’s coach, captain, and pitcher, took over the moribund ‘Bammers in ‘001. The once-illustrious franchise finished last season with an even 8-8, and are hoping for better in ’06. And just like its fellow teams, Schranz’s group takes after its nickname.
"The Rambam (Maimonides) was a very religious fellow, with unorthodox practices — kind of like us," said Schranz, 31, who grew up in Spring Valley, N.Y., and moved to Fair Lawn in ‘000. Such behaviors include practicing in the dead of winter, recruiting talent on TeaneckShuls and local eateries, and hosting team-building weekends.
"The league is-a great [way] to strengthen the ties between Jewish adults, and it provides a networking environment and relaxing atmosphere for guys anywhere from 18 to 50 years old," said Schranz. "We bring out the families to the games, play to win, and have fun."
Fans can check the standings for both divisions —Greenberg and Sandy Koufax — at www.rgmathletic. com/softball. Those who do will see that there is at least one team with a misleading name: at 1-6 (and that one win coming via forfeit), the Mavens have been anything but softball experts. But Schranz isn’t shedding any tears for the Mavens: Many of them are breakaway Rambammers.
"Some of the Mavens used to be Rambammers who decided to start their own team," said Schranz. "They’ve only been around for two years and haven’t quite ‘gotten there’ yet. They’re actually our arch-rivals, even though they have a worse record."
That, however, is the extent of the acrimony in the B’nai Brith league. Some of the players are Orthodox, while others are Conservative, Reform, or unaffiliated.
"Playing on a team gives the players a lot to look forward to on Sunday morning," said Schranz. "It’s great being a Rambammer."