The members of the 2016 Philadelphia Jewish Sports Hall of Fame class may not be household names on a national level, but that doesn’t mean they’re any less worthy.
Art Jacoby will be inducted into the Philadelphia Jewish Sports Hall of Fame May 26 because of his golfing skills — not because he once struck out Reggie Jackson on three pitches in junior high.
Lexie Gerson is going in because, after leaving the Philadelphia area, she became a defensive whiz at guard for the University of Virginia, then continued on to play for Team USA at the Maccabiah Games and later in Israel. She’s not going in because she once told the University of Connecticut’s Geno Auriemma she wasn’t interested in playing for him.
And Glen Macnow will join idols Stan Hochman, Merrill Reese and Phil Jasner because he’s spent 30 years writing, talking local sports and being a sounding board for fans — not because he witnessed the last time the Flyers won the Stanley Cup when he was a teenager at the “Aud” (Buffalo Memorial Auditorium).
The members of the 2016 PJSH class may not be household names on a national level, but that doesn’t mean they’re any less worthy. Even Macnow, who can talk and write with the best of them, says he’s honored to be included.
“These people are getting in because they had great accomplishments,” said Macnow, who came to Philadelphia to cover business after working at the Detroit Free Press and the Sun Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale, where he once covered a Ronald Reagan campaign. “They trained their life to become exceptionally talented at playing or coaching a sport.
“I’m getting in there because I can talk to people, and I can write about them. But what they did is so damn admirable to me, so good for them.”
The same is true for the late boxing manager Phil Glassman, squash standout Amy Gross, cross-country star turned Olympic coach Ira Meyers, water skier Michael Tabas and basketball player/coach Morton “Moe” Tener. While they’re all kind of amazed that they’re being recognized next week, they’re honored.
“I think they’re running out of people,” laughed the soon-to-be 69-year-old Jacoby, a six-time club champion at Meadowlands Country Club, who once beat perennial champ Jay Sigel on his way to winning the 1975 Philadelphia Amateur title. He learned of his honor in a unique, personal way, which he’ll reveal at the ceremony.
“It’s a great honor, and I’m getting to join some pretty incredible names in quite an exclusive club. I don’t know how they picked me, but I’m glad they did,” Jacoby said.
The process involves a mix of older and younger members of the Hall of Fame board who propose candidates, discuss them and then vote. Being born to a Jewish parent is enough to qualify — you don’t have to be religious or practice Judaism.
And while nobody’s on the level of a Dolph Schayes, Larry Brown, Randy Grossman or Harry Litwack, that shouldn’t diminish the honor.
“The criteria is being a Jew, not necessarily a practicing Jew,” Hall President Steve Frishberg said. “We want to honor Jewish athletes and those who made it into sports. The idea was to expose Jewish athletes to young students to realize a Jew can make it in sports. Then it got expanded. But every induction — this one included — will be special.”
It certainly will be for the 25-year-old Gerson, who grew up in Fort Washington, but left the area to play for Peddie School outside of Princeton, then starred at the University of Virginia before spending two years playing in Israel.
“I was the only Jewish player on every team I ever played for,” said Gerson, who’s now transitioning to coaching. “But I was always above average playing-wise and got my first scholarship offer in seventh grade.
“Then I was offered a scholarship by UConn, but I turned Geno down. It wasn’t a good fit for me. At UVA, the legacy I wanted to leave had nothing to do with me playing basketball, because I did a lot of community service. Now I want to coach.”
These days, Jacoby would be thrilled to shoot his age, although he still holds his own on the course.
“My dad started me at 9, but wouldn’t let me onto the golf course before I could play all the different shots,” recalled Jacoby, who competed at the University of Miami and later Temple University but decided against turning pro. “He taught me how to play, and a lot of this [honor] has to do with him.
“But I think Reggie Jackson really got me in the Hall. When I was in junior high, I struck him out on three pitches — he fell down swinging at the third. That’s my crowning achievement.”
As for Macnow, who, prior to Villanova University’s recent basketball success, had witnessed only one championship — the 2008 Phillies — since he arrived here in 1986, he believes his crowning achievement may have been the “wake” he and WIP listeners held for the Vet right before it was demolished in March 2004.
“It was the most fun show I ever had,” said 61-year-old Macnow, who made the transition from writer to sports talk host in 1993 — although he still writes whenever he can, including a weekly column for Metro.
“We did a show, ‘What’s your favorite Vet memory?’ and everyone was reliving their childhood, their life as a sports fan.
“I decided on the spur of the moment we needed to do something and said when I got off the air at 10 p.m. if anyone wanted to meet me down there we’d have a wake. I drove down there and didn’t know if there’d be three people or 30.
“I got there, and there were like 300 people from South Philly to Southampton, Camden to Conshohocken. We were drinking Cold Duck and doing Eagles cheers and toasting Wendell Davis’ knees [a Bears receiver who blew out both knees on the same play on Veterans Stadium’s infamous turf] and Mitch Williams and cheering Tug McGraw.
“What struck me was the people who were there were white people and black people and well-to-do people and row-home folks and young and old. What sports is in Philadelphia is the great common denominator.”
And he’s been around enough places to truly appreciate them.
That starts off in Buffalo, where he and a bunch of buddies went in together on Sabres’ season tickets. That’s why he was at the Aud for the 1975 “fog game” — Game 3 of the 1975 Stanley Cup Finals versus the Flyers — where the heat from the building created such a thick fog on the ice it made the puck all but invisible.
A few nights later, he was back for Game 6 when the Flyers wrapped it up to win a second straight Cup.
“I’m one of the very few people who can say I saw them skating around with the Cup that year,” laughed Macnow, originator of the Great Sports Debate, a weekly panel show on the old PRISM cable network and co-author of five books. “They broke my heart then, but now I know so many of those guys.
“They’re all here — Jimmy Watson, Dave Schultz, Bill Barber, Bernie Parent. Bernie loves to remind me whenever he sees me they broke my heart.”
While he remains a Bills fan, the Eagles are his love now.
“I really want to be at WIP when the Eagles win a Super Bowl,” said Macnow, who’s thrilled his dad will be able to join his wife of 38 years, Judy, and sons Ted and Alex for his induction. “I was on the air when the Phillies won the World Series and got to broadcast the parade. It was a really special moment for me. But when the Eagles win the Super Bowl that will be the greatest explosion ever.”
Until then, for Macnow, Jacoby, Gerson and the rest, going into the Philadelphia Jewish Sports Hall of Fame will do quite nicely.
Here’s a look at the other inductees going into the Philadelphia Jewish Sports Hall of Fame on May 26:
Phil Glassman, a boxing manager who handled fights for lightweight contender Lew Tendler and world featherweight and junior lightweight champion Benny Bass. Later in his career, he became a promoter. In retirement, he worked with his brother, Oscar, at Glassman’s Ticket Agency in Center City. He died in 1989.
Michael Tabas, a Dresher native who started water skiing as a child, eventually winning Pennsylvania and Delaware state championships. Nationally ranked, he’s competed in five national championships, winning a medal in the overall event — combining slalom, tricks and jumping — in 2013. He is the founder of Lawyer’s Video Service, Inc.
Amy Gross, winner of junior squash national and international championships before reaching 12, then starring at Harriton High School for four years. In 2000, she played on the U.S. gold medal winning Pan-American Games team, then became a four-time first team All-Ivy and All-American while leading Yale University to three national championships. After winning a gold medal at the 2005 Maccabiah Games, she turned to coaching. She works locally as a peak performance coach and therapist.
Ira Meyers, a Warrington native who was a two-time New York state cross country champion for John F. Kennedy High School, then became an All-East selection at William and Mary, where he set a school record in the 10,000 meters. While there, he competed in the Maccabiah Games, winning a team gold medal in the half marathon. He won the Philadelphia Independence Marathon in 1988. As a coach, he has worked with several All-Americans, NCAA champions and both silver and bronze Olympic marathon medalists.
Morton “Moe” Tener, who became a first-team All-Public basketball standout at John Bartram High in 1949. He led his team in scoring his junior and senior years at Rider College, and was named team captain and MVP as a senior. After serving in the Army, he taught and coached in New Jersey, while also authoring 25 books on coaching and sports administration.
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