Archive for the ‘Jewish coaches/administrators’ Category


Maccabiah Update

Posted on: November 27th, 2018 by Ron Kaplan

It’s been a while since I posted any news about the Maccabi sports movement, including the Maccabiah Games. Here’s an attempt to remedy.

You can see that the Maccabi movement in Great Britain is very active. One of my regrets during my recent trip to England was not being able to visit them, as well as missing out on the British Baseball Federation. Oh, well, maybe next time.

Finally, On December 9…


You can’t click on the image to access the page, so just drop them an email or call ’em up.

Here’s a piece from the NJ Jewish News I wrote about Jeff Bukantz and other locals who participated in the 2013 Games. I know there are other stories about JB, including a discussion of his book about his dad, Daniel, himself a fencing legend, but unfortunately they don’t appear to be on the NJJN website.

And finally, finally, some shameless self-promotion: if you are interested in having me speak to your synagogue or group about my book, The Jewish Olympics: The History of the Maccabiah Games (or any of my other books for that matter), drop me a line and let’s chat.

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Welcome back, Brad

Posted on: October 22nd, 2018 by Ron Kaplan

Image result for brad ausmusBrad Ausmus returns to the ranks of field generals in baseball. He was named as skipper of the LA Angels, replacing long-time manager Mike Soscia who had ben with the team since 2000.

Ausmus, 49, led the Detroit Tigers for four seasons (2014-17). He took the team to the post-season in his rookie year, but was eliminated in the LDS series. Some say that his initial campaign was a success (90-72) because he inherited a good squad from his predecessor, Jim Leland. Ausmus finished under .500 in two of the next three years. He served in the front office of the Angels as a special assistant to the general manager.

As a player, Ausmus — primarily a catcher — enjoyed an 18-year career with the Houston Astros, LA Dodgers, Tigers, and San Diego Padres. He appeared in a JML-leading 1,971 games and finished with marks of .251 batting average, 80 home runs, and 607 runs batted in.

Ausmus was inducted into the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 2004. In a 2009 article published by the Jewish Journal  of Greater Los Angeles, Ausmus — who also managed the Israeli National Team in the World Baseball Classic qualifiers in 2013 — said, “I have had quite a few young Jewish boys who will tell me that I am their favorite player, or they love watching me play or they feel like baseball is a good fit for them because it worked for me, or it worked for Shawn Green or other Jewish players at the Major League level. It has been a sense of pride. If you can have a positive impact on a kid, I’m all for it.”

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YU announces inaugural Athletics Hall of Fame Class

Posted on: December 1st, 2016 by Ron Kaplan

Legendary basketball coach Bernard “Red” Sarachek, fencing coach Arthur Tauber, and wrestling coach Henry Wittenberg, along with the all-time leading women’s and men’s basketball scorers, are among the inaugural inductees into the Maccabees Hall of Fame, honoring Yeshiva University alumni and other individuals who have distinguished themselves in National Collegiate Athletic Association competition and who best exemplify the University’s highest ideals and mission. The inaugural class induction ceremony will be held in May 2017.


Bernard “Red” Sarachek


Arthur Tauber


Ben Wittenberg

“The establishment of the Hall of Fame is a testament to the contributions Yeshiva athletes, coaches and others have made to the world of sports over more than a century and the reflection of Yeshiva’s long and illustrious athletic history,” said Joe Bednarsh, YU’s athletic director. “We look forward to adding to the inductee list in years to come with individuals who best exemplify the exceptional athletic ability, personal integrity, high standards of character and ideals and philosophy of Yeshiva University.”

The honorees include:

  • Heidi Nathan Baker led the women’s tennis team to a Skyline Conference Championship in 1999. She went undefeated in singles for all four years that she played, from 1996-1999, and she was named the Conference’s No. 1 singles player in 1999. She also coached the women’s tennis team for two years, after graduation.
  • Irwin Blumenreich played on the basketball team from 1954 to 1957 and served as captain in both the 1955–1956 and 1956–1957 seasons. He scored 513 points in one season, which stood as the most points scored in a season for decades. Other long-standing marks were for the most field goals in one season (211) and the most points in a single game (44), and he was the first Yeshiva basketball player to be elected to the All-Metropolitan team.
  • Daniela Epstein played on the Lady Macs YU women’s basketball team from 1999-2003. She is the all-time leading scorer, with 1,134 career points, and is the only woman in YU history to score over 1,000 points in her career.
  • Yossy Gev is the all-time YU men’s basketball points leader with 1,871 points. He played on the men’s basketball team from 1998 to 2002, serving as captain for three out of the four years. He was also the assistant coach from 2002 to 2005. He has earned many awards, including being named to the New York Metropolitan Basketball Writers Association Division III All-Star (four times), National Association of Basketball Coaches Division III Atlantic All-District All-Star team, and East Coast Athletic Conference Division III Men’s Metro Basketball All-Star Team.
  • Marvin Hershkowitz was the first-ever basketball player in YU history to score 1,000 points. In the 1949–1950 season, he led Yeshiva’s scorers with a total of 269 points. From 1954­ to 1956, he served as assistant coach, and from 1956­ to 1957, he was assistant athletic director. Six decades later, Hershkowitz is still ranked 23rd in team history in total points scored.
  • Sheldon Rokach played on the YU men’s basketball team from 1962 to 1966. Accomplishments include the following: third all-time YU rebounder, with 1,020 rebounds; fifth player in YU history to score more than 1,000 points, with a total of 1,223 points; most points in one game (48); and most rebounds in one game (33).
  • Bernard “Red” Sarachek served as coach of the YU men’s basketball team from 1942 to 1943 and from 1945 to 1968. He coached the 1954–1955 YU men’s basketball team that broke every individual and team scoring record, including most wins (13), most points, most field goals, and the highest average score per game than any previous team. He is credited with putting YU basketball “on the map.” He also coached and mentored legendary players and coaches, such as NY Knicks’ Red Holzman, St. John’s/Nets’ Lou Carnesecca, and YU’s own Johnny Halpert. During World War II, he coached in the military at Pearl Harbor, where his Schofield Barracks team won an armed forces title.
  • Herbert Schlussel was a member of the YU basketball team from 1953­ to 1957, and he played alongside Blumenreich and Sodden. He served as captain in the 1956–1957 season. Over his four-year career, Yeshiva basketball posted an impressive 51-29 record.
  • Abe Sodden ranks 16th all-time in YU basketball scoring history. He played from 1952 to 1956, serving as captain during the 1955–1956 season. Sodden broke the record at the time for most points in a season, with 384 points, by averaging the highest individual average per game, with 20.21 points.
  • Arthur Tauber served as the men’s fencing coach at YU from 1949 to 1985 and athletic director from 1979 to 1985. He spent 37 years at YU, where he was a professor of health and physical education and director of health. He also coached the baseball, soccer, tennis and cross country teams. He earned fencing All-American status in 1941 and was inducted into NYU’s Athletics Hall of Fame in 2001. He received the Bronze Star for his U.S. military service in World War II.
  • Henry Wittenberg coached wrestling at YU from 1957-1967. Wittenberg was a two-time Olympic medalist (winning Gold in 1948 in London and Silver in 1952 in Helsinki, where he served as captain), and his personal wrestling career consisted of over 400 wins and only four losses. He was a member of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame (inducted 1977), the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and the CCNY Hall of Fame.

For more information, visit yu.edu/HOF.


Int'l. Hall of Fame announces Class of 2013

Posted on: December 3rd, 2012 by Ron Kaplan

Gymnast Aly Raisman, American’s three-time 2012 Olympic medalist, and Israeli multi-sport Paralympics champion, Baruch Hagai, are among nine honorees elected to the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, located in Netanya, Israel.

The 18-year old Raisman captured a pair of gold medals at the London Games this past summer, winning the Individual Floor Exercises event and a Team championship gold medal, along with an Individual bronze medal on the Balance Beam.

Libyan-born Israeli Hagai, known as ‘Mr. Basketball of wheelchair sports’, owns eleven Paralympics/Stokes-Mandeville Games gold medals (1967-81), five (each) in basketball and table tennis, and one swimming championship.

Additional inductees will be Valeri Belenki, Azerbaijan’s gold medalist at the 1991 World Championships and 1992 Olympic gold medalist; Argentina’s 2003 World Judo Champion Daniela KrukowerEsther Roth-Sachamarov, the multi-gold medal Asian Games sprinter-hurler who, at the 1972 Olympics in Munich, was the first-ever Israeli to qualify for an Olympics track and field final (110m Hurdles),  St. John University’s Harry Boykoff, basketball’s first All-America “big man” at six-foot-nine-inches (1943); Robert Dover, the six-time captain of USA’s Olympic Dressage team (1984-2004) and winner of four consecutive bronze medals; Jim Grabb, ranked World’s No. 1 Doubles Tennis player in 1989 and 1993; and Amherst University author-educator Allen Guttmann, recipient of the International Olympic Committee’s first IOC President’s Sport Science Award.

Honorees will be formally inducted in July 2013 at the IJSHOF Museum, on the campus of Wingate Institute.

Bios appear after the break.


Before you ask…

Posted on: November 9th, 2012 by Ron Kaplan

Walt Weiss, the newly-appointed manager of the Colorado Rockies, is not MOT.

How to spend (part of) your summer vacation

Posted on: April 10th, 2012 by Ron Kaplan

The Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center in Connecticut offers a variety of interesting programs, but naturally this caught my eye:

Judaism and Baseball, June 29 – July 1

Join baseball experts, former players, journalists, and more for a first-ever exciting and intriguing weekend exploring the spiritual, social, and historical connections between Judaism and baseball.

Scheduled speakers and presenters include: Elliot Maddox

  • Martin Abramowitz—President of Jewish Major Leaguers, Inc, the producers of Jewish baseball cards
  • Rabbi Rebecca Alpert—Associate Professor, Temple University; author of Out of Left Field: Jews and Black Baseball
  • Ira Berkow—Pulitzer Prize-Winning New York Times Sportswriter
  • Dan Bern—Independent Music Award-Winning Songwriter
  • Stan HochmanPhiladelphia Daily News Sports Columnist and Beat Writer; author of The Clown Prince of Baseball
  • Mikhail Horowitz—Poet and Stand-Up Cultural Commentator
  • Aviva Kempner—Film Maker; Director, Producer, and Writer of The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg
  • Ambassador Dan Kurtzer—Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel and Egypt; Commissioner of the Israel Baseball League; Visiting Professor at Princeton University
  • Peter Levine—Author of Ellis Island to Ebbets Fields: Sports and the American Jewish Experience and The Rabbi of Swat
  • Elliott Maddox—Outstanding former major leaguer, played for three years with the NY Yankees and MetsBob Tufts
  • Howard Megdal—Writer-At-Large for Capital New York, Author of The Baseball Talmud, Taking The Field, and Wilpon’s Folly
  • Rabbi Michael Paley—Named one of Newsweek’s “50 Most Influential Rabbis,” Scholar-in-Residence at UJA-Federation of NY
  • Bob Ruxin—Consultant to the Israel Baseball League; Author, An Athlete’s Guide to Agents
  • Justine Siegal—First woman to pitch major league batting practice; Executive Director of Baseball for All
  • Bob Tufts—Former major league pitcher for the San Francisco Giants and Kansas City Royals

Additional highlights of the three-day, two-night retreat include:

  • Mock draft of the All-Time Jewish All-Star Team
  • An exploration of the mystical connections between Judaism & Baseball
  • Baseball Songs Concert with renowned songwriter Dan Bern
  • Yiddishe Casey at the Bat
  • Kosher, Farm-to-Table Food throughout the weekend

* * *

This sounds like an excellent program, and one I hope to attend.

Here's to the winners: Robert Kraft and the NY Giants

Posted on: January 23rd, 2012 by Ron Kaplan

Mazal tov to Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, as his team moves into the Feb. 12 Super Bow.

The Patriots won when a last-second “gimme” game-tying field goal attempt by Baltimore Raven’s kicker Billy Cundiff went awry. Some speculate that supernatural forces were in play: was the late Myra Kraft looking down on the proceedings? There’s video around of BenJarvus Green-Ellis touching the memorial “MHK” patch in her honor, but the spoilsports have pulled it from YouTube. Look for it; it’s a sweet gesture, as is hearing these big brutes talk about her so respectfully in post-game interviews.

If you can watch this video and the one below and not get choked up, then you have no soul.

* * *

How badly do you feel for Cundiff? These are supposed to be professionals and losing is part of the game, but I wonder if any of his teammates look at him with a combination of disgust and blame. Sure, a lot of things can happen during the course of any game that renders one event such as a botched kick moot, but when things are on the line and you don’t come through, I can tell you from personal experience it’s a horrible feeling.

* * *

All this said, I still hope the Jew-less NY Giants kick the cr** out of the Patriots in SB XLVI.

By the way, if any local NJ synagogue is having a Super Bowl get-together, drop me a line at rkaplan(at)njjewishnews(dot)com.

And don’t forget, we’re on Facebook now so visit us and show you care by clicking the “like” component.


The shoe drops on Pearl

Posted on: August 24th, 2011 by Ron Kaplan

The waiting is over. The fate of former Tennessee Volunteers coach Bruce Pearl has been decided.

According to the Associated Press,

The NCAA hit [Pearl] with a multiyear show-cause penalty on Tuesday, people familiar with the situation told The Associated Press on Wednesday on condition of anonymity because the school had not announced the NCAA’s decision. What the ruling means is that before Pearl can be hired, a school must tell the NCAA why it wants him and be prepared to face its own penalties for giving him a job.

Mike DeCourcy of The Sporting News says that should not be an automatic red flag.

If I were the athletics director at a university with an average or worse Division I basketball program — the kind that might find itself in the market for a new coach next spring — I would hire Bruce Pearl faster than you can barbecue chicken.

Pearl does have other options. His personally would suit him for a television gig. Or he could take the Developmental League coaching job for the Frisco Legends, the Dallas Mavericks’ affiliate.

Tony Kornheiser on Pardon the Interruption interviewed Pearl for a “Five Good Minutes” segment awhile back.

Whatever he decides, things could always be worse. Say a “mishabreah” for Pat Summit, coach of the Lady Volunteers, who has been diagnosed with early onset dementia. In an interview, Pearl said “it was just comforting to hear how incredibly positive she is about this. She is going to take this and run with it, and she’s going to lead through it. And she’s going to be an inspiration for anyone that’s dealing with this type of dementia and Alzheimer’s.”

Thanks, once again, to KK haver Ari for several fine links.


Mazel tov to Mavericks, Heat

Posted on: May 27th, 2011 by Ron Kaplan

Micky Arison’s Miami Heat will face Mark Cuban’s Dallas Mavericks in this year’s NBA Finals, which begins Tuesday, May 31.

The Hall is calling

Posted on: March 23rd, 2011 by Ron Kaplan

Eight more distinguished men and women from the world of sports will be inducted into the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame Museum at the 19th annual induction ceremony on Sunday, March 27 at 10:30 a.m. at The Suffolk Jewish Community Center, 74 Hauppauge Road, Commack, NY.

The latest group of honorees include three-time Super Bowl Champion Harris Barton; basketball great Tal Brody; swimming champion Jane Katz; three-time Olympic bobsledder Steve Mesler; former NBA/NHL owner Abe Pollin; Hal Richman, the inventor of Strat-O-Matic baseball; New York City basketball legend Alan Seiden; and former NFL General Manager Dick Steinberg.

Harris Barton – The offensive tackle was drafted from the University of North Carolina by the San Francisco 49ers in 1987 as their first round pick. By his third season, he had helped the team win three Super Bowls (1989, ’90, and ‘95). Protecting Hall of Fame quarterbacks Joe Montana and Steve Young, he became a two-time Pro-Bowl tackle himself. He retired after 12 seasons in the NF.  He currently works in the financial services industry with former teammate and good friend, Ronnie Lott.

Tal Brody – Started his collegiate career in 1961 at the University of Illinois. The 6 foot, 1 1/2inch athlete from New Jersey was a three year starter and still remains on Illinois top 50 all-time scoring list. During his senior year, Brody earned All-America and All Big-Ten.  In 1965, he was the 13th pick in the NBA Draft by the Baltimore Bullets. While he was in training camp he accepted an invitation to play on the United States Maccabiah team, which he led to a Gold Medal. Brody never returned to the Bullets, but finished his master’s degree in educational psychology and returned to Israel to join Maccabi Tel Aviv. Brody has always been a large part of Israeli culture and received the Israel Prize, the country’s highest civilian honor in 1979.

Dr. Jane Katz – Growing up on the Lower East Side of New York City, Katz started swimming competitively at age 14. While a member of the U.S. Swim Team Maccabiah Games in Israel, her love for long-distance and synchronized swimming grew. Katz has competed in many races in pools, lakes, and even oceans. In 1964, she was a member of the U.S. synchronized swimming performance team in Tokyo. Some of her other achievements include being named an All-American and World Masters Championships. As recently as August, 2009 she competed in the National Senior Games winning several events. She earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education and a master’s degree at NYU and currently works as a professor at John Jay College and continues to teach student the benefits of water fitness at City University.

Steve Mesler – A three-time Olympian for the United States. Born in Buffalo in 1978, his passion of competition started at age 11 by running track.  In high school, he earned a track and field national championship and All-American honors. Battling five years of injuries and elbow reconstructive surgery, he changed his mindset to become one of the best “pushstarters” in bobsledding. Steve led the U.S. team in 2010 to its first Olympic Gold Medal in 62 years and broke a 50-year drought in the American World Championship. Other career highlights include two World Cup Championships and earning medals on every bobsled track in the world. He has totaled 39 World Cup Medals, the most ever by a U.S. push athlete. Today, Steve is a motivational speaker and has created his own non-profit organization which allows Olympians and professional athletes to communicate through technology in the classroom.

Abe Pollin – Born in 1923 in the Washington, DC area. Pollin graduated from George Washington University in 1945 and took a job working in his family’s construction company. As a successful construction contractor, he headed an investment team that purchased the Baltimore Bullets in 1964. After building the Capital Centre in 1973, he moved the Bullets and his new NHL team, the Capitals, to Washington. As an owner, the highlights of his sports career came in 1978 when the Bullets won the NBA title and in 1998 when the Capitals reached the 1998 Stanley Cup Finals.  In addition to owning sports teams, Pollin, who died in 2009 at age 85, was a very active philanthropist.

Hal Richman – As a child, Richman enjoyed playing board games like All-Star Baseball. He was very passionate about sports and wanted to create a game for people to enjoy in which the player controlled the action using realistic scenarios. After years of gathering information and ideas, Richman created Strat-O-Matic Baseball. The realism in the game, based on actual player information and statistics, was revolutionary and made it very popular among baseball fanatics.  The game celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. [Editor’s note: Here’s a interview I did with Richman just around the time of the anniversary event held in Manhattan.]

Alan Seiden – This New York City native’s basketball career began at Jamaica High School where he was the starting guard for all four years. In 1955, Seiden led his team to the PSAL and led New York City in scoring. He was accepted to St. John’s University where he was the team’s second leading scorer in his sophomore year. The next season, he was named team co-captain and earned a spot on the second team All-America. During his senior season he helped take the Redman to the NIT finals where he posted a game high 22 points and got the victory. Although Seiden had a stellar collegiate career, he only played one season in the ABL — with the Pittsburgh Rens where he averaged 9.2 points per game.

Dick Steinberg – Vice President and General manager of the New York Jets from December, 1989, to September, 1995. He was known as one of the most knowledgeable minds in the NFL and a top talent evaluator.  He played an important role in the scouting and acquisition of players from the time he entered the NFL in 1972 as a scout for the New England Patriots. He is generally regarded as the person who selected the talent for two different Super Bowl teams — the Los Angeles Rams in 1980 and the Patriots in 1986.  Steinberg died from stomach cancer in 1995.  The National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame created the Dick Steinberg Good Guy Award to honor a Jewish individual who best exemplified the positive aspects of sports.

In addition to the eight inductees, the NJHoF will also present the following annual awards:

  • Dick Steinberg Good Guy Award to Jeff Idelson, President of the National Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum
  • George Young Award to Negro League legends Larry Doby, Josh Gibson, Buck O’Neil, Jackie Robinson, and Satchel Paige
  • Marty Glickman Award to the year’s Top College Athletes: Female – Loren Galler Rabinowitz, figure skater/ice dancer, cum laude graduate of Harvard.  Miss Massachusetts in 2010 and Miss America pageant contestant in 2011.  Male – Gabe Carimi, football, 2010 Outland Trophy winner from the Univ. Wisconsin.
  • Jules D. Mazor to the year’s top male high school Athlete: Niv Sultan, football player from Hewlett (NY) H.S. attending Harvard in the Fall.
  • Pearl D. Mazor to the year’s top female high school athlete: Alexandra Raissman, gymnast from Needhan (Mass.) H.S.;  Lena Brottmon, softball pitcher from Illinois; and Kyllie Rosenstock, diver from Madison (WI) West H.S.

For tickets or additional information, contact Alan Freedman at 631-462-9800, ext. 119.



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