Jewish athletes in the world of sports were as much in the limelight ten years ago as they are today. The sporting pages of the nation’s press featured such outstanding Jewish sportsmen as Benny Leonard and Lou Tendler in boxing; Abel Kiviat and Pincus Sober in track; Sammy Bohne and Jack Bentley in big league baseballâ€”all champions in their specialties and possessors of the fame, glory and prestige that is due all winners.
Ten years ago Benny Leonard, after his sensational defeats of Philadelphia Tommy O’Brien, toured the country in a vaudeville skit with Herman Timberg as his stooge. On his return he fought and defeated Joe Dundee and Lou Tendler. It was shortly after these fights that Benny retired as the undefeated lightweight champion of the world. Recently, in a poll conducted by the Jewish Daily Bulletin he was chosen as the greatest boxer of all time.
Big league baseball was still ten years too early for Phil Weintraub, Harry Danning and Hank Greenberg. However, in 1924 pitcher Jack Bentley of the New York Giants was reporting to manager John McGraw in his best condition. Sammy Bohne, ace second baseman of the Cincinnati Reds, was leading the league with a heavy batting average. Also, in 1924, the late John McGraw, realizing the box office value of a Jewish big league star, tried to palm off “Buck” Herzog and Artie Nehf as Hebrew aces. Their Hebrew descent proved to have originated in McGraw’s wily brain.
Pincus Sober, the sensational miler from City College, was an intercollegiate champion. He lost out in the competitions for the Olympic team in the 1924 Olympiad. Abel Kiviat, one of the Illinois University’s greatest cinder stars, was burning up the midwest tracks with his stabbing speed. Dave White, executive director of the United States Maccabi Association, was entering Harvard as a freshman, having been preceded by a sensational record as a track man. He was acclaimed the “schoolboy Ned Gourdin”â€”one of the greatest jumpers at Harvard.
Dave Adelman, winner of the weight events at the 1923 Maccabiad in Palestine, was crowned world’s twelve – pound shotput king. Stanley Tex Rosen, also of New Utrecht High School, was eastern scholastic pole vaulting champion. “Happy” Furth, one of the few Jewish track men on the 1932 Olympic team, was then the P.S.A.L. hurdle monarch.
BASEBALL, ICE SKATING, TENNIS
Nat Holman, captain of the Original Celtics and coach at C.C. N.Y. was recognized as the world’s greatest basketball player and coach.” Holman is still coach at City College and has produced winning teams that have run roughshod over all opposition for the last ten years.
Abe “Tubby” Raskin was selected as all-American forward at City in 1924.
Harry Kasky and Sammy Goldberg won the A.A.U. straightaway speed skating contests.
Mabel Rosenbaum of Chicago, the present Baroness Giocomo Levi, won most of the tennis championships in 1924.
Dr. Emanuel Lasker, the German Jewish chess master, won the world’s championship in New York. Little Sammy Reshevsky, at the time only nine years old, was hailed as the “boy wonder” when he played and defeated twenty army officers simultaneously at West Point.
Today, ten years afterwards, Jews are champions in boxing, skating, football, track, tennis and basketball. There are twice as many champions in the world of sports today as there were in 1934. The Jewish athlete in America is coming into his own.