Well, here’s an interfaith item of intrigue from the NY Times City Room blog:
If you’re hoping for a talisman to improve your team’s chances of victory, why not make it a man with a talis?
That thought, at any rate, crossed the minds of officials at Fordham University, the Jesuit redoubt in the Bronx.
Their men’s basketball team caught a hot hand during the Christmas break when a cantor named Daniel Pincus began singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” before home games.
Long before they relied on Yiddish superstitions, Fordham Rams’ multi-athlete Frankie Frisch — not Jewish —said some nice things about Jewish slugger Hank Greenberg:
Hank [Greenberg] 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.
Morris Weiner, JTA’s 1930s "Slants on Sports" columnist, wrote frequently about sports clashes between Fordham and other schools — especially those with significant Jewish student populations — in the tri-state area.
A sample of related quotes (with date published). We especially appreciate Weiner’s ethnography of Jews on New York City colleges:
It is a rare occasion when a Jewish grid star is discovered on a Fordham or Manhattan team. However, Columbia usually contributes several players to an all-Metropolitan Jewish eleven, but the 1934 season finds the Lions loaded with Poles, Swedes, Italians and Hungarians. Brooklyn City, C.C.N.Y. and N.Y.U. have a corner on all the Jewish grid talent in the city this year. (Nov. 28, 1934)
The traditional Battle of the Bronx between the Ram from the Rose Hill and the Violet from University Heights is all set for tomorrow afternoon at the Yankee Stadium. The Fordham lads are top-heavy favorites to sink the Stevensmen in this annual tilt. However, the N.Y.U. grid warriors may spring an upset in this game, traditionally marked with reversals of form. (Nov. 28, 1934)
Nat Machlowitz won the 1934 award as the most valuable football player on this year’s team at New York University. His splendid defense work in the Fordham game last week was the outstanding football exhibition seen by this scribe in New York all season … (Dec. 3, 1934)
Nat Machlowitz, captain-elect of the 1935 football team and N. Y. U.’s outstanding football player this past Fall, hopes to have an equally successful basketball career. The Violet back, who led in scoring with thirty-six points, was awarded the Madow Trophy for "stellar performance in the Fordham game" is a guard. He is one of the cleverest defensive players to graduate from the plebe ranks. Machlowitz also plays baseball and was last season’s heavy hitter and star infielder. (Dec. 14, 1934)
[City College Basketball team, coached by Nat Holman,] will face plenty of tough opposition away from the campus. It will be the visiting team in the traditional clashes with Fordham, N. Y. U. and Manhattan. (May 9, 1934)
Vinny Cavanaugh, Fordham’s new basketball mentor, rates Nat Holman as the best basketball player he ever saw. (Jan. 7, 1935)
The Fordham-Pitt game should be a rough and tumble affair with plenty of fouls called during the evening." (Jan. 16, 1935)
To find more Jewish references at Fordham, try snooping around the Fordham University Digital Collections.
That’s where we found the box score above from the Thanksgiving Day match between Fordham and NYU.
On Nov. 29, 1934. In that game, Machlowitz put up 133 of NYU’s 315 yards in the Violets’ 31-19 loss to the Rams.
One religion’s sports news reporting lending context to another’s.
[Sniffle] Ain’t it beautiful?