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Slants on Sports

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Coming home from Philadelphia after watching a thrilling and colorful clash between the Army and Navy football teams, your scribe was full of Chanukah spirits. The boys who had worked in the press box during the afternoon were telling tall tales and passing an even longer bottle that was intercepted every so often but never fumbled.

When this laddie had finished recounting his reasons for the 1934 selection of the Jewish all-American football team, a young man who had occupied the adjoining seat turned to us and asked us a number of questions concerning Jews in sports. He was particularly interested why so few Jewish athletes went in for professional sports. He inquired whether the Jewish people thought all professional athletes “bums.”

We enumerated the fifty-three sports on the athletic roster and mentioned the name of the Jewish man or woman who was a champion or an outstanding athlete in each field. “There are many Jews in amateur sports,” we said, “but only a small minority of these athletes turn professional. The chief reason for this is the lack of parental permission. Then again, this business of being known as a ‘bum’ has kept many Jewish men out of the pro racket. But the Jewish people are beginning to realize that the picture they had painted of professional athletes was a horse of another color.”


The young man then told us he was Rabbi Goldman, of Philadelphia, and that he had been asked many times by parents whether it would be wise for them to permit their sons to participate in sports. They had visions of their children as successful doctors, lawyers and engineers, but couldn’t see their way clear to realizing that a good baseball player in the family might pay off the mortgage. It was more racial pride than anything else, and in his estimation it was a false pride.

Some time ago the son of a very orthodox family who attended his synagogue had come to him and asked for help with his parents. The boy was an excellent ball player and had a chance to go south with the Philadelphia ball club of the American League. He had promised the lad his aid but parental objections could not be overcome. The youngster is now in law school, following the wishes of his people, but not happy there.


We told him what Hank Greenberg had told us recently. Hank was brought up in the Bronx in surroundings that were very Jewish. Instead of spending his time with books Hank was out on the lots after school with a glove and bat. As time went on and Hank’s ability as a ball player attracted the notice of scouts, he made up his mind to become a big league player. Thus more time was devoted to athletics and less school. On returning home from the ball parks years ago he would hear women of the neighborhood say to each other: “There goes Mrs. Greenberg’s son, Henry. It’s a shame that such a fine woman should have a ‘bum’ for a son.”

However, Hank made good in the major leagues and made a lot of money too. The same people who once frowned upon Hank tendered him a dinner. And Frankie Frisch, one of the guests at this party, said: “Hank has done more for Jews because of his excellence as a ball player than any number of doctors or lawyers. The Jewish people are turning more and more to sports and the so-called stigma that once was attached to ball players is rapidly being erased.”


All plans for the active organization of a Bulletin sports club, sponsored by the Jewish Daily Bulletin, have been made and today the membership lists are thrown open to all young men and women from the age of sixteen up. For the present this club will content itself with being a senior organization. As progress is made a junior club will be formed for younger boys and girls.

One of the programs of this club is to organize teams for active competition in athletics. Besides this participation the club will offer to its members admission to baseball, football, basketball and hockey games.

Several noted Jewish athletes have already signified their desire to act as sports advisors of the organization. Benny Leonard, undefeated retired lightweight champion of the world; Irving Jaffe, who holds and has held more individual ice skating and roller skating championships than any other man; Barney Hyman, coach of New Utrecht High School’s track team, and Hank Greenberg are some of the well-known men who will help this organization.


Babe Scheuer, former New York University football star and at present coach of the Roosevelt High School eleven, will coach in basketball and football. He will be aided in forming a quintet by Moe Spahn and Lou Wishnewitz, former all-Metropolitan court stars.

Irv Resnick, one-time all-American water polo player from Rutger’s University, will handle the water polo groups.

Harold Kramer, former intercollegiate swimming ace who was high scorer of the country a few years ago, will direct the activities of the natators. Kramer is the man who won the 440 championship at Tel Aviv in 1932 during the first Maccabiad.

Cy Alexander, national one-wall handball champion a few years ago, will coach the handball teams.

All that is necessary to join the Bulletin Sports Club is to fill out the coupon printed below and mail it to the Sports Editor, Jewish Daily Bulletin, 221 Centre street, N. Y. C.

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