Larry Schon with his daughter Sheva and son Sruli during the 2010 Young Israel Softball League season.
Larry Schon with his daughter Sheva and son Sruli during the 2010 Young Israel Softball League season. (Schon family)

Larry Schon died Dec. 7, 2020, at age 71 from complications from COVID-19.

Players in the Detroit Jewish Youth Softball League are wearing caps with the initials “LS” on them this season.

That’s to honor the memory of Larry Schon, an Oak Park resident who ran the league as commissioner and was a coach for 30 years. He died Dec. 7, 2020, at age 71 from complications from COVID-19.

Schon probably wouldn’t like the attention he’s getting this season from the league’s 210 players, their coaches and all the league families.

“Larry was unassuming and humble. He preferred to stay behind the scenes and didn’t expect anything in return for the work he did for the league,” said Dovid Seligson, a former league player in the 1990s who is in his first year as commissioner.

“Larry was liked by everyone. Nobody had anything bad to say about him,” Seligson said. “He had a passion for softball, and he saw a need for Jewish kids to keep busy and be productive during the summer.”

Rosa Furman is one of Larry and Pearl Schon’s six children. The couple was married for 48 years.

Furman is coaching in the league this season, and so are her brothers Aaron and Sruli. Twice-a-week games began June 20 and continued through this week.

Caps worn this season by Detroit Jewish Youth Softball League players include the initials “LS” in honor of Larry Schon.
Caps worn this season by Detroit Jewish Youth Softball League players include the initials “LS” in honor of Larry Schon. Dovid Seligson

“It’s so nice for the league to honor my dad,” Furman said. “He never missed a year when he was involved. He loved sports, and he loved kids.”

League players come mainly from Orthodox families and attend Jewish day schools.

Playing slow-pitch softball in a low-pressure atmosphere gives them a chance to meet each other and have some fun, Seligson said.

League games are played Sunday mornings and Tuesday evenings on the seven fields at Catalpa Oaks Park in Southfield. There are seven divisions:

• Grades 1-3 girls.

• Grades 4-8 girls.

• Grade 1 boys.

• Grades 2-3 boys.

• Grades 4-5 boys.

• Grades 6-8 boys.

There were no league games last summer because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The usual contingent of 320 or so players is down this year, Seligson said, because of a late and condensed registration period caused by the gradual and sporadic easing of pandemic restrictions.

Seligson is confident the league will return to its normal number of players next summer.

One of Schon’s passions was making sure every league player received a trophy. Another passion was making sure everyone played regardless of a family’s finances, and whatever money was left over went to charity.

Those passions have continued, although there may not trophies this year because the league season was put together so late.

“My dad always made sure the trophy was something that was popular at the time, like, for example, a bobble head,” Furman said.

Schon took over the league in its second year (1985) when only 20 boys played.

The owner of Schon Packaging in Southfield grew the league to as many as 180 boys and girls, and remained in charge until 2015.

The league was first called the Young Israel Softball League. It had other names until it took on its current name a few years ago.

League games were played for many years at Schoenhals Elementary School in Southfield.

League coaches are all volunteers. Seligson said sponsors play a big role in helping cover league expenses, which include a cap and T-shirt for each player.   

Please send sports news to stevestein502004@yahoo.com.

Previous article2021 Emmys: All the Jewish Nominees, From Jurnee Smollett to Michael Douglas
Next articleJewish War Veterans Hold Heartwarming Events