Eight more distinguished men and women from the world of sports will be inducted into the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame Museum at the 19th annual induction ceremony on Sunday, March 27 at 10:30 a.m. at The Suffolk Jewish Community Center, 74 Hauppauge Road, Commack, NY.
The latest group of honorees include three-time Super Bowl Champion Harris Barton; basketball great Tal Brody; swimming champion Jane Katz; three-time Olympic bobsledder Steve Mesler; former NBA/NHL owner Abe Pollin; Hal Richman, the inventor of Strat-O-Matic baseball; New York City basketball legend Alan Seiden; and former NFL General Manager Dick Steinberg.
Harris Barton – The offensive tackle was drafted from the University of North Carolina by the San Francisco 49ers in 1987 as their first round pick. By his third season, he had helped the team win three Super Bowls (1989, ’90, and ‘95). Protecting Hall of Fame quarterbacks Joe Montana and Steve Young, he became a two-time Pro-Bowl tackle himself. He retired after 12 seasons in the NF. He currently works in the financial services industry with former teammate and good friend, Ronnie Lott.
Tal Brody – Started his collegiate career in 1961 at the University of Illinois. The 6 foot, 1 1/2inch athlete from New Jersey was a three year starter and still remains on Illinois top 50 all-time scoring list. During his senior year, Brody earned All-America and All Big-Ten. In 1965, he was the 13th pick in the NBA Draft by the Baltimore Bullets. While he was in training camp he accepted an invitation to play on the United States Maccabiah team, which he led to a Gold Medal. Brody never returned to the Bullets, but finished his master’s degree in educational psychology and returned to Israel to join Maccabi Tel Aviv. Brody has always been a large part of Israeli culture and received the Israel Prize, the country’s highest civilian honor in 1979.
Dr. Jane Katz – Growing up on the Lower East Side of New York City, Katz started swimming competitively at age 14. While a member of the U.S. Swim Team Maccabiah Games in Israel, her love for long-distance and synchronized swimming grew. Katz has competed in many races in pools, lakes, and even oceans. In 1964, she was a member of the U.S. synchronized swimming performance team in Tokyo. Some of her other achievements include being named an All-American and World Masters Championships. As recently as August, 2009 she competed in the National Senior Games winning several events. She earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education and a master’s degree at NYU and currently works as a professor at John Jay College and continues to teach student the benefits of water fitness at City University.
Steve Mesler – A three-time Olympian for the United States. Born in Buffalo in 1978, his passion of competition started at age 11 by running track. In high school, he earned a track and field national championship and All-American honors. Battling five years of injuries and elbow reconstructive surgery, he changed his mindset to become one of the best “pushstarters” in bobsledding. Steve led the U.S. team in 2010 to its first Olympic Gold Medal in 62 years and broke a 50-year drought in the American World Championship. Other career highlights include two World Cup Championships and earning medals on every bobsled track in the world. He has totaled 39 World Cup Medals, the most ever by a U.S. push athlete. Today, Steve is a motivational speaker and has created his own non-profit organization which allows Olympians and professional athletes to communicate through technology in the classroom.
Abe Pollin - Born in 1923 in the Washington, DC area. Pollin graduated from George Washington University in 1945 and took a job working in his family’s construction company. As a successful construction contractor, he headed an investment team that purchased the Baltimore Bullets in 1964. After building the Capital Centre in 1973, he moved the Bullets and his new NHL team, the Capitals, to Washington. As an owner, the highlights of his sports career came in 1978 when the Bullets won the NBA title and in 1998 when the Capitals reached the 1998 Stanley Cup Finals. In addition to owning sports teams, Pollin, who died in 2009 at age 85, was a very active philanthropist.
Hal Richman – As a child, Richman enjoyed playing board games like All-Star Baseball. He was very passionate about sports and wanted to create a game for people to enjoy in which the player controlled the action using realistic scenarios. After years of gathering information and ideas, Richman created Strat-O-Matic Baseball. The realism in the game, based on actual player information and statistics, was revolutionary and made it very popular among baseball fanatics. The game celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. [Editor's note: Here's a interview I did with Richman just around the time of the anniversary event held in Manhattan.]
Alan Seiden – This New York City native’s basketball career began at Jamaica High School where he was the starting guard for all four years. In 1955, Seiden led his team to the PSAL and led New York City in scoring. He was accepted to St. John’s University where he was the team’s second leading scorer in his sophomore year. The next season, he was named team co-captain and earned a spot on the second team All-America. During his senior season he helped take the Redman to the NIT finals where he posted a game high 22 points and got the victory. Although Seiden had a stellar collegiate career, he only played one season in the ABL — with the Pittsburgh Rens where he averaged 9.2 points per game.
Dick Steinberg – Vice President and General manager of the New York Jets from December, 1989, to September, 1995. He was known as one of the most knowledgeable minds in the NFL and a top talent evaluator. He played an important role in the scouting and acquisition of players from the time he entered the NFL in 1972 as a scout for the New England Patriots. He is generally regarded as the person who selected the talent for two different Super Bowl teams — the Los Angeles Rams in 1980 and the Patriots in 1986. Steinberg died from stomach cancer in 1995. The National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame created the Dick Steinberg Good Guy Award to honor a Jewish individual who best exemplified the positive aspects of sports.
In addition to the eight inductees, the NJHoF will also present the following annual awards:
- Dick Steinberg Good Guy Award to Jeff Idelson, President of the National Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum
- George Young Award to Negro League legends Larry Doby, Josh Gibson, Buck O’Neil, Jackie Robinson, and Satchel Paige
- Marty Glickman Award to the year’s Top College Athletes: Female – Loren Galler Rabinowitz, figure skater/ice dancer, cum laude graduate of Harvard. Miss Massachusetts in 2010 and Miss America pageant contestant in 2011. Male – Gabe Carimi, football, 2010 Outland Trophy winner from the Univ. Wisconsin.
- Jules D. Mazor to the year’s top male high school Athlete: Niv Sultan, football player from Hewlett (NY) H.S. attending Harvard in the Fall.
- Pearl D. Mazor to the year’s top female high school athlete: Alexandra Raissman, gymnast from Needhan (Mass.) H.S.; Lena Brottmon, softball pitcher from Illinois; and Kyllie Rosenstock, diver from Madison (WI) West H.S.
For tickets or additional information, contact Alan Freedman at 631-462-9800, ext. 119.