BROADCASTER ERIC NADEL’S HANDWRITTEN NOTE CALLING THE TEAM’S FIRST WORLD SERIES WIN CROSSES THE AUCTION BLOCK FOR CHARITY
By Robert Wilonsky
Eric Nadel, for 45 years the radio voice of the Texas Rangers, can’t pinpoint the moment it happened – just sometime on November 1, a few hours before the Rangers faced the Arizona Diamondbacks in Game 5 of the 2023 World Series. The Rangers, who had never won a single title in the team’s long history in Washington, D.C., and then Arlington, Texas, were up three games to one against the National Leaguers from Phoenix. One win from glory.
“At some point during the day, I became aware I felt like I was in a dream because I was so convinced the Rangers were going to win the World Series,” Nadel says a few weeks later. “And then I started thinking, ‘This couldn’t possibly be real.’”
That’s because Nadel had been there before, on October 27, 2011, when the Rangers came this close to clinching their first World Series win over the St. Louis Cardinals. Twice, the Rangers were one strike away from winning Game 6. And twice the Rangers blew it – once in the ninth inning, again in the 11th. Nadel later said he “felt like I let down every Rangers fan out there by not being able to deliver the last out” in 2011.
So it was not without some hubris and chutzpah that Nadel put pen to paper the afternoon of November 1 and began writing what he hoped – what he believed – would be the World Series-winning call for the Texas Rangers. He took some stationery from the team’s hotel, the Arizona Biltmore, and wrote in the middle of the sheet of paper:
“Rangers Fans, You Are Not Dreaming!”
“It dawned on me other Rangers fans must be feeling the same way, and they certainly would when we actually won,” says Nadel, who in 2014 was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. “So it felt appropriate to wrap up the final out of the World Series by letting them know they were not dreaming.”
He stashed the note in his scorebook. Only much later – when the Rangers piled on a few late-inning runs capped by Marcus Semien’s two-run homer that made it 5-0 – did he hurriedly scribble at the top: “IT’S OVER! IT’S OVER!” By night’s end, he’d filled out the entire call, then folded the piece of paper and kept it in his wallet – until he decided to auction it for charity.
Heritage is honored to offer that piece of handwritten history, along with signed copies of Nadel’s scorecard from the World Series-clinching game and the headset and microphone he was wearing when he told Rangers fans they weren’t dreaming, in December 17’s Sunday Sports Collectibles Select Auction. Nadel used that headset for more than a decade and insisted on wearing it throughout the Rangers’ postseason run, even after the Houston-based radio engineer at Minute Maid Park informed him before Game 1 of the American League Championship Series that it was “in bad shape” and in dire need of replacement.
The Eric Nadel Collection will also feature dozens of baseball books from Nadel’s personal collection, all autographed by the Hall of Famer, and the section of his 1989 Rangers scorebook recording Sammy Sosa’s Major League debut on June 16 of that year.
All proceeds from The Eric Nadel Collection will go to the Suicide and Crisis Center of North Texas.
“Anyone who grew up in North Texas, as I did, fell in love with baseball listening to Eric call Rangers games,” says Chris Ivy, Heritage’s Director of Sports Auctions. “It is an absolute thrill to work with him in offering these incredible pieces of memorabilia, which will allow some lucky fans to own a piece of history – the Rangers’ first World Series championship! – while benefiting a great and worthy cause.”
Nadel, a 72-year-old Brooklyn native, was hired by the Rangers in 1979. His name quickly became “synonymous with Texas Rangers Baseball,” as Brown University noted when enshrining him in the school’s hall of fame in 2016. And he became “the soundtrack to Texas Summer,” as the Rangers’ longtime public address announcer Chuck Morgan told The Athletic last month. For 17 years, he has had a lifetime contract with the team, which means he will remain with the Rangers until he decides to retire.
Yet he almost didn’t get to call the Rangers’ at-long-last championship season.
In March, Nadel stated through the team that mental health issues would keep him out of the broadcasting booth to begin the season – for how long, he wasn’t sure.
“As many of you know, for years I have been an advocate for those with mental health issues,” Nadel said at the time. “I now find myself dealing with anxiety, insomnia and depression which are currently preventing me from doing the job I love. … I am receiving treatment as I go through the healing process and encourage others with similar issues to reach out for help.”
When USA Today carried the news of Nadel’s time off, it noted that “only two current MLB broadcasters have been with their teams longer”: the Kansas City Royals’ Denny Matthews, who has been with the team since its inception in 1969, and the legendary Bob Uecker, part of the Milwaukee Brewers’ broadcasts since 1971.
It wasn’t the first time Nadel battled depression – but the first time, in the early 2000s, he kept it to himself, declining to share his struggles with his broadcast partners at the time. Last month, Nadel told The Athletic’s Levi Weaver he “just grinded my way through it” with talk therapy. This time, he sidelined himself with the Rangers’ support.
Nadel was absent for almost five months as the Rangers sat atop the American League West. Eventually, he and John Blake, the Rangers’ executive vice president of communications, settled on an August 4 return date, which necessitated a few dress rehearsals in an empty booth in an empty stadium. And even when Nadel rejoined Matt Hicks and Jared Sandler on air, he sounded like someone doing an excellent Eric Nadel impression.
“You don’t just get cured of depression,” he says. “You’re constantly working to improve your mental health or maintain your mental health and continuing to get therapy and do what you need to do. When you’re someone prone to depression, it’s more likely to return. I’ve learned that the hard way – you need to work harder to ensure you’re in a good place and stay in a good place.”
Over time, as the Rangers fell out of first and flirted with missing the playoffs altogether and then refused to lose on the road in the postseason, Nadel sounded like himself – like that friend who’d gotten you through some long, hot summers who couldn’t wait to share some good news for a change.
“So many people reached out and told me that – not just with emails and messages, but people have stopped me and said something similar,” Nadel says. “It’s wonderful. It makes me feel good. But it wasn’t until it was over that I looked back on it and saw it in that light. For the last few weeks, I have felt like I’m living in an alternative universe. After 52 years of basically being thought of as losers, the Rangers all of a sudden are perceived in a different light. I am so grateful after all that time to still be here – incredibly grateful and fortunate and blessed to have had this opportunity.”
ROBERT WILONSKY is a staff writer at Intelligent Collector.