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Archive for the ‘Jewish sports personalities’ Category

 

Lest we forget: Ray Robinson

Posted on: November 2nd, 2017 by Ron Kaplan

Ray Robinson was among the last of his generation of sportswriters and authors. I had the pleasure of speaking with him on several occasions in my capacity as sports editor for the NJ Jewish News. He passed away yesterday at the age of 96.

Among his many books, Robinson published High and Tight: Hank Greenberg Confronts Anti-Semitism in Baseball in 2012.

Marty Appel, shown with Robinson (right) at the dedication of a plaque at Lou Gehrig’s birthplace, was kind enough to allow me to use his tribute, posted on Facebook yesterday.

A special friend….and a New York treasure, author/editor Ray Robinson passed away at 5 pm today at New York Hospital, a day after suffering a stroke at his apartment on East 90th Street, where he lived for 63 years. As some of you may recall, his wife Phyllis died on March 13 at 92. Ray’s devotion to her care as she suffered through Alzheimer’s Disease was perhaps his finest hour. They were married for 68 years. Ray would have turned 97 on December 4.

Ray was sharp to the end, and he looked forward to every phone call that kept his mind alert and active. Loved to talk politics, media, and of course, baseball. He was a Columbia graduate and graduation day was the day Lou Gehrig died in 1941. Gehrig was special to him — he met Lou, and wrote a classic biography of him, as well as books about Knute Rockne, Will Rogers, Yankee Stadium, Christy Mathewson, Tim McCarver, and many more. He was the editor of the great annual paperback, “Baseball Stars of 19XX” which were must-have books back in the day. There, he employed the likes of Jimmy Breslin, Dick Schaap, George Vecsey, Al Silverman, Arnold Hano, Al Silverman, Charles Einstein, and many more – often for $20 an article! He was, improbably, the editor of Seventeen and Good Housekeeping magazines for many years, as well as the long defunct Pageant and Coronet.

He was an EIGHT DECADE author, published from the 1940s to the 2010s. He did an ebook on baseball and US Presidents in this decade. Everyone wanted a column from him each year on Gehrig — he was in the bleachers on Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day in 1939. (He probably wrote a dozen Gehrig guest columns for the Times). He was on the Board of Directors for the New York (Lou Gehrig) Chapter of the ALS Association.

I knew him for some 45 years. We used to have lunch at Billy’s (no longer there) on First Avenue. He was a vital part of our monthly “Larry Ritter Lunch Group” which is now in its 26th year and we have met in recent years near his home — so he wouldn’t be away from Phyllis for long. Otherwise he was always happy to walk to wherever we met.

We did events at Columbia together and attended a plaque dedication at Lou Gehrig’s birthplace some years ago. Ray was old enough to have lived through and experienced the Great Depression, Pearl Harbor, World War II, the Kennedy assassination, a few more wars, 18 presidents, and the computer/internet age (which he managed to ignore, still working his typewriter).

I take pleasure in believing that there were no questions I neglected to ask him. Remarkable to get first hand accounts of almost everything that has mattered in the US for the last century.

Bob Costas texted me today: “What a life. What a good man.”

Ray and Phyllis had three children – Nancy, Tad and Steve ….. plus his family of admirers who had the pleasure of his company on a monthly basis — at least — for all these years.

Maybe Alon Day would do better driving a getaway car

Posted on: February 21st, 2017 by Ron Kaplan

Alon DaySo much for the anticipated debut of Alon Day, who would have been the first Israeli do rive on the NASCAR circuit. Looks like that’s on hold for the foreseeable future.

In a press release from his main U.S. benefactor, Sarasota attorney David Levin, we learn that the 25-year-old driver was unable to raise the necessary funds required by his team.

In NASCAR, unlike most other professional sports teams, it is the driver’s responsibility to pay the costs of their race car, crew, support facilities and other expenses,” said Levin. “Such funds come from businesses, organizations, and individuals who buy ‘advertising’ space on the driver’s race truck and uniform. Despite numerous contacts over the past eight months to hundreds of friends of Israel and members of the Jewish community,” Day “has received almost no financial support.”

Levin said he found it “particularly disappointing considering that Daniel Suarez, Mexico’s representative in NASCAR, has received millions of dollars from supporters each year since his debut in 2014.”

Levin funded four NASCAR races last autumn to qualify Day for his full rookie season out of his own retirement account and loans.

Levin has been promoting Day’s competition in NASCAR to improve U.S.-Israel relations, to help combat the rise in anti-Semitism, and to strengthen pride in the Jewish community, particularly among the children.

Day was one of eleven drivers selected to the 2016-17 NASCAR Next class, and is the first driver selected from NASCAR’s Whelen Euro Series. NASCAR Next is an initiative designed to feature the best and brightest rising young stars in racing.

He began his motorsports career at the age of nine, racing Go Karts and became Israel’s National Champion. In 2009, Day was Champion of the Formula Renault Asian Championship having placed first in six of his 12 races in that series. He continued to race in open wheel race cars through 2014, including six races in 2012 as the first Israeli driver competing in the Indy Lights Series in the United States. He transitioned from open wheel to stock cars in 2015, competing in NASCAR’s Whelen Euro Series.

Levin has vowed to continue to seek financial support so that Alon will have the opportunity to make his NASCAR rookie season debut as soon as possible.

JML update, Feb. 3, 2017: The return of Sam Fuld?

Posted on: February 3rd, 2017 by Ron Kaplan

Sure, it may be Super Bowl time, but for those of us  who like our games more summery, here’s a quick recap of what’s been going on for some of the Jewish major leaguers.

  • sam fuldRyan Braun is getting ready for the new season. Maybe he’ll have caught up on his sleep by then.
  • Scott Feldman‘s new contract with the Cincinnati Reds calls for a guaranteed $2.3 million, but with incentives, he can get that up to a nice, round $5 mil.
  • Danny Valencia is looking for a breakout year with his new Seattle Mariners.
  • Finally, here’s hoping to see Sam Fuld back on a major league field again. Not only is he an exciting defensive genius, but he’s a true role model, showing that you don’t have to let a medical problem like diabetes stand in the way of a successful athletic career.

And remember: less than two weeks to “pitchers and catchers.”

No politics in my Super Bowl, Robert Kraft and Arthur Block

Posted on: January 31st, 2017 by Ron Kaplan

Owners of both Super Bowl competitors — Robert Kraft of the New England Patriots and Arthur Blank of the Atlanta Falcons — are the subjects of recent articles that take a look at their connections with Donald Trump.

Blank is an opponent, judging by this piece on the Newsday site, while Kraft appears to be more chummy, as per this “open letter” to him from Tablet.

Robert Kraft Arthur Blank

 

Make no mistake, Kraft has been amazingly generous in his support of Jewish causes. Heck, there’s a football stadium in Israel that bears his name. But like I keep telling some of my (now-ex) Facebook friends, there’s more to the world than Israel. I’m not going to get into politics here. Like many of you, I turn to sports to get away from the problems of everyday life. But the Super Bowl brings out all matter of topics, so this comparison between ownership should come as no surprise.

But me, I like more lighthearted pieces, like this one from the Cleveland Jewish News on how to make football more Jewish.

 

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Lest we forget: Earl Foreman

Posted on: January 26th, 2017 by Ron Kaplan

There are hundreds, perhaps thousands of people like Earl Foreman. They make a great impact inside their local community but probably few outside those geographic or religious or other confines have heard of them. They may not have the name recognition of a Robert Kraft in football or a Mark Cuban is basketball, but they have nevertheless carry great weight in their own circles.

Foreman, who died on Monday at the age of 92, had his fingers in lots of sports pies. If you google him, the first three items that appear are headlines from three different newspapers noting his accomplishments:

Earl Foreman, who shared ownership of Baltimore Bullets, dies at 92
The Washington Post · 1 day ago

Earl Foreman, former Eagles part-owner, dies at 92
Philly.com · 2 days ago

Earl Foreman, former Virginia Squires owner, dies at 92
STLtoday.com · 1 day ago

Put that all together, and that’s a lot of sports happiness for a lot of people.

Earl Forean, left, with Abe Pollin in 1972

Earl Foreman, left, owner of the Virginia Squires of the American Basketball Association, and Abe Pollin, owner o f the Baltimore Bullets of the National Basketball Association, in 1972.

Jewper Bowl!

Posted on: January 23rd, 2017 by Ron Kaplan

(HT to FB friend Robert Toback for the entry title.)

So here’s something for the alt-right to complain about: A couple of rich Jewish owners involved in the great American game. Robert Kraft‘s New England Patriots beat the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers, 36-17 while Arthur Blank‘s Atlanta Falcons polished off the visiting Green Bay Packers, 44-21. In both cases, the game wasn’t as close as the score might indicate.

I wonder if there will be some friendly bet. Food is usually involved, but neither place is known for fine kosher cuisine more in line with New England clam chowder versus Atlanta pulled pork?

Robert Kraft with Patriots QB Tom Brady.

Arthur Blank with Falcons' QB Matt Ryan.

In the Patriots’ game, Nate Ebner appeared as a free safety on special teams in just nine plays, an indication that he wasn’t used all that much. Of course there was also that head injury (not to make light of it) that occurred in the third period.

They keep talking about baseball as a game of numbers, but football has plenty, too. Because it’s a game of field position, I think there are a lot more “geographical” maps and charts, as evidenced by this preview from ESPN.com.

Super Bowl LI is scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 5.

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Athletes named to International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame

Posted on: December 26th, 2016 by Ron Kaplan

From the JTA:

Two American athletes and one New York songwriter have been elected to the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.

Other newly elected members come from Canada, Hungary, Israel, New Zealand and Russia.

http://jewishcurrents.org/old-site/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/box27item125.jpgThe three Americans are Anthony Ervin, Thelma “Tybie” Thall-Sommers and Albert Von Tilzer.

Ervin, a native Californian now living in Florida, captured a pair of gold medals at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio in two swimming events:  the 50-meter freestyle and the 4×100- meter relay. The victories were a near repeat of his gold and silver medals in the same events at the 2000 Games in Sydney, Australia.

Thall-Sommers garnered two-time world championships in table tennis. One was the world mixed doubles title in 1948, and the other as member of the U.S. team that won the trophy in 1949.

Arguably, the American with the longest impact on spectator sports was the late Von Tilzer, who wrote the immortal baseball anthem “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” in 1908.

Also elected were:

The late National Hockey League star Hyman (Hy) Buller of Canada, who played for the New York Rangers. He set a rookie record in 1951-1952 for scoring the most goals, and ranked second for most goals among all NHL defensemen in three consecutive seasons.

Joszef Braun joined the MTK Budapest soccer club in 1916 at age 15 and three years later was named Hungary’s “Player of the Year.” His team won nine national championships through 1924. Braun died in a Nazi forced labor camp in 1943.

Israel’s Lee Korzits is a four-time world sailing champion, winning her first Mistral-class title in 2003. After a long layoff due to injuries, the Hadera native won world gold medals in 2010, 2012 and 2013.

New Zealand sailing champion Joanna (Jo) Aleh became a “double-double” gold medalist (with Olivia Powrie) in the women’s 420 Class event at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, and at the 2007 and 2013 world championships.

Swimmer Semyon Belits-Geiman, a Moscow native, broke 67 Soviet national freestyle records, set a world 800-meter freestyle record in 1966, and the same year won two gold medals at the European championships. In 1999, he and his wife moved to Stamford, Conn.

Election results were announced by International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame co-chairmen Alan Sherman of Potomac, Maryland, and R. Stephen Rubin of London.

Formal inductions are slated for July 4, 2017 at the Hall of Fame Museum, located on the Wingate Institute campus in Netanya, Israel.

 

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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.

https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/find-a-grave-prod/photos/2012/28/84174126_132787946526.jpg

Bernard “Red” Sarachek

http://www.arthurtauber.com/images/portrait-photo-arthur-tauber.jpg

Arthur Tauber

http://blogs.yu.edu/news/wp-content/uploads/sites/19/2012/07/Wittenberg.jpg

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.

 

Now if only Robert Kraft could find a Jewish superstar

Posted on: November 17th, 2016 by Ron Kaplan

Image resultAll due respect to Nate Ebner, but his position doesn’t scream “look at me.”

Here’s another story about Robert Kraft, the mensch and philanthropist, who recently donated $6 million towards a sports campus in Jerusalem.

That’s fantastic, and appreciated, but a part of me wishes he would do something to help return professional baseball to the Jewish state.

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NBA’s Bulls owner Reinsdorf inducted into Basketball Hall of Fame

Posted on: September 13th, 2016 by Ron Kaplan

From the JTA:

Jerry Reinsdorf, who as owner of the Chicago Bulls has won six NBA championships, was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Reinsdorf was officially enshrined in the Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts, on Sept. 8, alongside players including Allen Iverson, Yao Ming, Sheryl Swoopes, and Shaquille O’Neal, as well as others.

Led by superstar Michael Jordan, the Bulls dominated the NBA in the 1990s.

Reinsdorf also is an owner of the Chicago White Sox.

He said he became hooked on the NBA, and in particular the New York Knicks, when he entered high school in Brooklyn.

“(O)ne of the benefits of being a high school student in New York was that your student ID card got you into Madison Square Garden for 50 cents,” Reinsdorf recalled. “I was there anytime I could cobble together 50 cents plus the 10 cents for car fare.

“1949 was also the year of my bar mitzvah. A bar mitzvah is the time in his life when a Jewish boy realizes he has a better chance of owning a team than playing for one.”

His son, Michael, president of the Bulls franchise, sat next to him during the ceremony, according to the Chicago Tribune.

 

   
 

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