THE SPORTSCASTER WHO IS A POET

Photo by Danny Fulgencio

In his 40th season calling play-by-play for the Texas Rangers in 2018, Eric Nadel started reading limericks during the eighth inning.

The “eighth inning limerick of the day” became so popular that fans started writing in with their own poems. In the off-season, he worked with Preston Hollow-based artist Arthur James to compile a book, “LIM-ERIC!” which was published last year. The poems and illustrations are great, but there are also three pages of endorsements that are just about as amusing. Rhett Miller of the Old 97’s wrote, “Some people say the world doesn’t need a book of limericks penned by a Hall Of Fame broadcaster. Those people are jerks.” All book proceeds go toward The Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation, which builds baseball and softball fields in disadvantaged areas. Nadel and wife, Jeannie, live in Preston Hollow and Durango, Colorado.

Why did you decide to do this book?

I had done three books previously, and I had resolved to never do another book because it’s far too much work and not much money. But we were writing one or more limericks every game. Arthur James did a few rough sketches. And I thought, “We’re going to do a beautiful book that’s going to bring some joy to people’s lives.” Most of the writing portion was already done. Then it was just a designer, editor and proofreader, and I needed someone to oversee the whole project. Then we had to form an LLC, so we needed a bookkeeper and an attorney. I wound up with six people working for me just to publish this book.

What are some of your favorite poems in the book?

There’s one about Nelson Cruz, who didn’t catch the fly ball in the 2011 World Series, which cost the Rangers the World Series, but who is probably the nicest guy who’s ever played the game. It’s called “The Hex.”

My feelings toward Cruz are complex,

His homers soar several decks,

He’s kind and he’s shy,

But if he’d caught that fly,

We wouldn’t still have this damn hex.

Nelson since then has played for a couple of other teams. Whenever we play those other teams, you have all kinds of emotions from the fans because he’s also the guy who got us to the World Series. And in terms of charitable giving, no one ever did more than he did. This little five-line poem seemed to put everyone’s feelings about it into perspective.

Do you have a favorite illustration?

I wrote one about the freeway in Los Angeles called “Freeway Anxiety.” The limerick came to me in the middle of the night. I had this crappy rental car, and trying to get on the freeway in L.A. in this crappy rental car … I was having a nightmare that it was happening over again. “It’s awful when your rental car sucks…” I thought, “That sounds like the first line of a limerick.” So I got up in my hotel room and finished it. Arthur’s illustration looks like a tourist map of Los Angeles. It has the Hollywood sign and the Santa Monica Pier. It’s great.

Which limerick challenged you?

Writing one about the World Cup. I don’t know anything about soccer. But my partner Matt Hicks is really into it. When the World Cup was about to start, I asked some questions about who the good teams are. So I wrote one called “World Cup Preview.” Matt said, “You only mentioned six teams. There are 32 teams in the tournament, and anyone could win.” It now has 14 stanzas, but all 32 teams are mentioned in the limerick, and it takes up a three-page spread in the book. Rhyming with “Croatia” isn’t easy. 

Can you tell us about your birthday concerts?

Focus On Teens, a nonprofit for whom I am the spokesman, supports homeless students who attend Dallas ISD and Fort Worth ISD. Keith Price, who used to run the Austin Street Shelter, he realized there was a hole in the safety net for teenagers who can’t go to a homeless shelter. But there are thousands of homeless kids, and many of them attend school on a daily basis. It’s giving them support in the schools, where there’s a room they can chill out, do their homework, get food, school supplies, clothes if they need them, bus passes and all sorts of other financial support.

When is the next concert?

This is the eighth year at the Kessler around my birthday in May; this year it’s May 2 with Parker Millsap and Daphne Willis. Those concerts always sell out, so we always tell people to get tickets early if they plan to go. 

     

Tell us about your Sunday supper series at Café Momentum.

We do one Sunday a month at the restaurant, when it’s normally closed. It’s a family-style dinner and concert, and I book the musicians. The musicians help design the menu based on their favorite foods. That’s really fun for chef Chad Hauser. He works with them to help come up with a menu. Twice we’ve had to have vegan stuff, and he came up with these incredible vegan treats. The whole concept of the restaurant [which hires kids released from Texas youth prisons] just blows me away. The rate of recidivism is incredibly low compared to the 50 percent overall for kids who come out of those facilities just in the first year. The vast majority of [Café Momentum] kids get jobs in restaurants after one year in the program.

When is the next one?

We have one March 24 with Seth Walker. We get a lot of performers who normally would perform at the Kessler, and a lot of performers are willing to perform for much less than they would normally get because the cause is so good. And the musicians are now talking to each other about it. The word is getting out about Café Momentum.

How did you get so interested in music?

Ever since I was a little kid growing up in New York, and my sister brought home an Elvis record. It was a 78, and it had “Hound Dog” on one side and “Don’t Be Cruel” on the other side. That record kind of won me over to being a music fan, and I’ve kind of been hooked since then. She’s three years older, and she was the first to bring home a Bob Dylan record and later, The Beatles. And we would just hang around listening to records together from the time I was a little kid.

Where can people get the book?

We’re selling it on Amazon and at the gift shop at the ballpark and at Texas Live, the venue that just opened next to the ballpark. During the season I’m going to do at least one or two book signings every home stand, prior to a game. So if people want to buy a book directly from me that I can sign, I’ll be very available to do that for anyone who goes out to games. 


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