Archive for the ‘Lest we forget’ Category


Philip Roth and Baseball: Another “link”

Posted on: May 30th, 2018 by Ron Kaplan

Both figuratively and literally…

I wrote about Roth’s passing last week. Today I found this piece, “A Game So Grand and Beautiful” — Philip Roth On Writing and Baseball, in Town Topics, a Princeton, NJ, community paper. Kind of got a kick out of the writer’s comparing an old photo of Roth to one of Hank Greenberg.

I had mentioned The Great American Novel as one of the most underrated works of baseball fiction. That opinion was shared at a periodic coffee I have with Scott Raab, an ex-pat Clevelander, die-hard sports fan (and when you’re rooting for any of the Cleveland teams — until lately at least — what other kind is there?) and author of The Whore of Akron: One Man’s Search for the Soul of LeBron James and You’re Welcome, Cleveland: How I Helped Lebron James Win a Championship and Save a City. As a former Esquire contributor, he has published dozens of celebrity profiles, including this one on Roth in 2010.

Image result for raab, roth, esquire


Lest we forget: Philip Roth

Posted on: May 23rd, 2018 by Ron Kaplan

Image result for philip roth,The iconic author of The Great American Novel — one of the most underrated pieces of baseball fiction according to many — died yesterday at the age of 85.

Although he was a frequent story subject in the New Jersey Jewish News while I was there for more than a decade, I never had to opportunity to interview him. I would have loved to ask why he wrote about baseball, compared with his other “more serious” themes.

Roth was a complex person, hard to know from what I’ve read and not that comfortable with being the subject. I enjoyed most of his writing although I’m not enough of a literary expert to delve into the nuances of his work.

Many of his stories have been made into movies; I wonder why that didn’t happen for TGAN? I listened to the audiobook version and was not overly impressed with the narrator’s interpretation.

Here’s Roth’s obituary from The New York Times as well as the paper’s review of the book, published in 1973.

And a few more items regarding his baseball work:


Image result for philip roth, baseball



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.

Lest we forget: Margaret Bergmann-Lambert

Posted on: July 26th, 2017 by Ron Kaplan

Margaret Bergmann-Lambert, the champion high-jumper who was banned by Hitler’s Germany from competing in the 1936 Olympics, died yesterday at the age of 103.

She achieved new notoriety several years ago when the Olympics were held once again in Germany

Ira Berkow, the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist, wrote her obituary for The New York Times which noted “Ms. Lambert’s story was also told in a 2004 HBO documentary, “Hitler’s Pawn,” and, in partly fictionalized form, in the 2009 German film “Berlin 36.” A memoir, “By Leaps and Bounds,” was published in 2005.”


Deutschland Leichtathletik Gretel Bergmann (picture-alliance/dpa)

Lest we forget: Jerry Krause

Posted on: March 28th, 2017 by Ron Kaplan

Apologies for having missed this one, but Krause, “the general manager who orchestrated the Chicago Bulls’ dynasty of the 1990s, assembling the teams that Michael Jordan led to six N.B.A. championships, has died. He was 77,” according to The New York Times‘ obituary. Here’s another one from the Cleveland Jewish News.

Like his associate, Jerry Reinsdorf, Krause was involved with several sports franchises across multiple leagues; he also served as a scout for the Chicago White Sox,  Yankees,  Mets, and Arizona Diamondbacks.

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.

Lest we forget: Peter Horvitz

Posted on: December 30th, 2016 by Ron Kaplan

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/516HCTBTKGL._SX318_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgThe teacher and lecturer who published The Big Book of Jewish Baseball with his son Joachim, died in Raleigh, NC, last Saturday at the age of 71.

This was one of those Jewish “reference books” I’m betting a lot of kids received as a bar mitzva or Hanukka present.

Horvitz also wrote The Big Book of Jewish Sports Heros: An Illustrated Compendium of Sports History & The 150 Greatest Jewish Sports Stars.

JNS used him as the main source for a story on “Forgotten Jewish baseball players” in 2012.

HT to Bob Wechsler for the sad news.

Lest we forget: Margaret Whitton

Posted on: December 6th, 2016 by Ron Kaplan

Perhaps best known for her portrayal of the avaricious owner of the Cleveland Indians in Major League, Ms. Whitton died on Sunday at the age of 67. Here’s her obituary in the New York Times by Richard Sandomir, who has moved from from his previous  post as the sports media columnist to the “dead beat.”

She was hailed by the UJA-Federation of New York for her and her husband, Warren Spector’s, support of “the Jewish community in New York, in Israel, and around the world.”

Jonathan Knight wrote a very fun book that will tell you more: The Making of Major League: A Juuuust a Bit Inside Look at the Classic Baseball Comedy (although there didn’t seem to be any Jewish characters in the film).

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.


Lest we forget: Muhammad Ali

Posted on: June 7th, 2016 by Ron Kaplan

There has been a ton of stuff written about the late champ, mostly about his status as a revolutionary athlete and cultural influence.

Here are a few items you might have missed:

Savvy sports photo fans know the name Neil Leifer. He’s taken some of the most iconic pictures across the spectrum, including the one below


Leifer spoke about what it was like to cover Ali on the latest Sports Illustrated podcast which you can hear here.

Ali was one of the topics on Slate’s Hang Up and Listen. HUAL is one podcast where it’s beneficial to visit the home page because of the great show notes and links they always provide.

Robert Lypsite provided the front page obituary for The New York Times over the weekend. In fact, it ran on both Saturday and Sunday, which I have never seen before. Richard Sandomir wrote this piece about the “Odd Couple” relationship between Ali and Jewish sportscasting legend Howard Cosell. “One man, Ali, understood racism; the other, Cosell, experienced anti-Semitism. And neither could stop talking,” Sandomir writes. (Their relationship was also the topic of Sound and Fury, by Dave Kindred.)


Leonard Schecter, who edited Jim Bouton’s watershed Ball Four, wrote “The Passion of Muhammad Ali” for Esquire in 1968. The profile was almost as famous for Carl Fischer’s photo as it was for the narrative. (Here’s a gallery of famous Ali snaps.)


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