Last summer I got an email from a man whose reputation, and voice, preceded him. His name is Eric Nadel, and as the veteran commentator for the Texas Rangers baseball team, he’s a Texas sports icon. He has a lifetime contract announcing games for the franchise and has joked that he hopes to outlive it. He was contacting me about a man who’d written to him nearly 10 years ago, who he’s gotten to know pretty well, a man named Wendell Lindsey, who is serving life in a Texas prison for murdering his daughter in a cockeyed scheme to collect insurance money.
It wasn’t unusual for Nadel to get letters from Texas prisoners — among the few comforts they’re allowed (if they can afford it) is a transistor radio purchased from the prison commissary. As a result, there is a lot of listening to baseball games as the summers drag on in the sweltering confines of the state’s prisons. Nadel told me that he’s gotten a decent number of letters over the years and always writes back. He asks his pen pals what they’re in for and gets detailed responses in return. But the response he got from Lindsey was a first: Lindsey insisted he was innocent. Nadel wanted to talk to me about that.
On the phone, he laid out the basics. Lindsey had taken his two young daughters, ages 9 and 10, to fish at a popular spot near Fort Worth. As they were preparing to head home, Lindsey’s oldest fell face first into the water. Lindsey didn’t know how to swim, but he jumped in to try to rescue her. He was unsuccessful, and his daughter drowned.