My Night With Eric Nadel

Every once in a while, you have an unique opportunity in life to meet someone for the first time that you feel like you’ve known your entire life. Thanks to Hill College, I was given such an opportunity Thursday, November 14, to meet the legendary Eric Nadel.
Back in August, I wrote this about Mr. Nadel. It wasn’t easy to do, but I felt it necessary at the time to dissect his thoughts on Yu Darvish and his “ace” status. On Thursday, at the pre-presentation dinner, I found out very quickly that he had not forgotten my little article. I came to find out he is still very passionate about the subject and referenced this article as vindication. Our back and forth conversation over advanced statistics was as enjoyable for me as any conversation I’ve possibly had in a long time.

By 7:30 p.m., the dinner guests walked over to the Vara Martin Daniel Performing Arts Center where Hill College students, faculty, staff and community members had gathered to hear Nadel’s presentation entitled “New Information Sources, New Media, New Stats….Old Sportscaster.”

Many of the things Nadel spoke on, you can read in an interview SDI did with him back in May 2012. As I listened to his presentation, I closed my eyes and was instantly drawn back to my childhood as I heard him broadcast games on WBAP on KRLD. Myself and many others in that auditorium had hour-long smiles on our faces as Nadel talked about living down the street from Ebbets Field, Nolan Ryan’s 5,000th strikeout, the 2010 ALCS and many more wonderful stories.

Here are a few things I learned from that fateful evening:

  • Nadel does like many of the advanced statistics available, but finds that it would be difficult to talk about them on a radio broadcast. He simply doesn’t have time to explain OPS, WAR or other stats that are still not mainstream.

  • Of the current Rangers, he appreciates the way Leonys Martin plays the game and believes he has a bright future. At dinner, Nadel shared a story of when Martin defected Cuba and wasn’t able to speak to his mother for four days. Leonys’ mother had no idea where he was until she received a phone call from him saying he was in Mexico. Soon after, a washing machine ended up on her doorstep as a gift from Martin.

  • His favorite player of all time is Nolan Ryan. The Nolan story he shared was when the team was on the road, every night Ryan was the first one to the bus and would sign autographs for anybody that asked for one until the very second the bus was about to leave. Nolan would have Sharpie markings up and down his coat jackets, but he didn’t mind at all. Nadel also says that Nolan has a great sense of humor and for someone of his stature, he is a very humble man.

  • Nadel also shared this joke:

A Texan dies and goes to hell. While down there the devil notices that the Texan is not suffering like the rest. He checks the gauges and sees that it’s 100 degrees and about 80% humidity. So he goes over to the Texan  and asks why he’s so happy. The Texan says, “I really like it here. The temperature is just like Dallas in June.”

The devil isn’t happy with the Texan’s answer and decides to fix him, so he goes over and turns up the  thermostat to 120 degrees and the humidity to 90%. After turning everything up he goes looking for the Texan. He finds him standing around unbuttoning his shirt, just as happy as can be. The devil quizzes the Texan again as to why he’s so happy. The Texan says, “This is even better. It’s like Houston in July.”

The devil, now really upset, decides to make the Texan really understand that hell is no paradise. He walks over to the controls and turns the heat up to 140 degrees and the humidity to 100%. “Now let’s see what the Texan is up to,” he thinks. So he goes looking for the Texan. The devil finds the Texan taking his shirt off basking in the heat, even happier than before. The devil can’t figure it out. He asks the Texan why he’s happy now. The Texan replies, “This is great, it’s just like Brownsville in August.”

The devil says, “That’s it, I’ll get this guy.” He walks over and turns the temperature down to a freezing 25 degrees below zero. “Now let’s see what the Texan has to say about this,” the devil thinks to himself. He looks around and finds the Texan jumping up and down for joy. “What are you so happy about now,” asks the devil. Still excited, the Texan replies, “The Rangers have finally won the World Series!”

  • His favorite catch of all time? This Gary Matthews, Jr. catch which I would wholeheartedly agree with. Nadel went on to explain that Robert Earl Keen was in the broadcast booth at the time (Nadel never had guests on the radio broadcast, but the game was out of hand and Eric is a big music lover) and if you ever get to hear the radio call of that catch, you will hear Keen clapping in the background.

  • If you ever meet Nadel, ask him about the Gaylord Perry story. I can’t duplicate it well enough here to do it justice.

  • Nadel is the biggest fan of Rangers baseball. He deals with the ebbs and flows of the team as much as anybody. To this day, he has not listened to or seen a replay of the Game 6 misplay. Just like us, every time there was a ball hit out to Cruz and right field, he thought about the play.

Nadel is not only a great ambassador for Rangers baseball, but for the game itself as most of you know. I hope someday he is able to win the Frick award because he can talk about this great game like it is true poetry in motion.

Many thanks to Nadel and Hill College for the wonderful event.  

Eddie Middlebrook is the co-host of “Chin Music” and VP of Media for ShutDowninning. He can be reached or on Twitter @emiddlebrook
Eddie Middlebrook
Eddie Middlebrook is Senior Writer for @ballparkbanter9 and @shutdowninning. Formerly with @wfaasports and @FoxSportsSW. @IBWAA member. Eddie can be found on Twitter @emiddlebrook.

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