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Oct. 1, 2011 – Connie Stewart

While the Phoenix World Championships had an awesome showing of women’s teams in the 40s program with a record 24 Masters teams competing, the tragedy and inspiration shown by one team overshadowed it all.

Lew's Crew arrived in Phoenix ready to win this championship. Unfortunately their coach Lew Oppenheimer was struck by a car in Phoenix the evening before they started to play.

Many members of his team were at the scene and held his hand as they waited for medical attention to arrive. Lew died a few days later with several of his players by his side.

These girls were an inspiration to us all.

As a director and umpire of their game, I spoke to them and they wanted to continue to play in Honor of their Coach Lew.

After their games, these ladies would leave the field, go to the hospital, and then return to the field in time for their game. It was not only heart breaking for me to umpire their game but very inspirational.

The emotions, tears, and the courage it took for them to play was incredible. This team fought hard on the field, the entire time with their minds on their coach fighting for his life in the hospital. Some of the ladies had played with Lew for over 20 years and were like his family.

After the game several of the 40 Masters teams met on the pitcher’s mound to say a silent prayer for Lew and his entire team. It was inspiring and sensational to witness the compassion and camaraderie.

Lew was loved, admired, and respected by many in the softball community especially his team.

The Lew’s Crew team realizes that things can never be the same without him. He played an important role in many of their lives. They will be continuing forward to other tournaments with Lew in their hearts. Lew Oppenheimer, born September 29th 1944, was a native of Philadelphia.

Lew would be proud to know of the inspiration his team provided to other teams.

Connie Stewart is the National Women’s Director and can be reached at

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