Cover image for Sports and the American Jew
Sports and the American Jew
Riess, Steven A.
First edition.
Publication Information:
Syracuse, N.Y. : Syracuse University Press, 1998.
Physical Description:
xvi, 337 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm.
Sports and the American Jew / Steven A. Riess -- Tough Jews : the Jewish American boxing experience, 1890-1950 / Steven A. Riess -- Jewish American women, Jewish organizations, and sports, 1880-1940 / Linda Borish -- Jews and the making of American marathoning, 1896-1960 / Pamela Cooper -- The rise of sport at a Jewish settlement house : the Chicago Hebrew institute, 1908-1921 / Gerald R. Gems -- "Our crowd" at play : the elite Jewish country club in the 1920s / Peter Levine -- Hank Greenberg : the Jewish American sports hero / William M. Simons --Lester Harrison and the Rochester Royals, 1945-1957 : a Jewish entrepreneur in the NBA / Donald M. Fisher -- Becoming American : Jewish writers on the sporting life / Allen Guttmann -- Eric Rolf Greenberg's The celebrant : the greatest Jewish American baseball novel / Eric Solomon.
Reading Level:
1360 Lexile.
Added Author:

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
GV709.6 .S76 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



This book debunks the conventional stereotype that Jews and sports are somehow anathema and clearly demonstrates that sports have long been a significant institution in Jewish American life.

Jews were among the very first professional baseball players and the most outstanding early American track stars. In the 1920s and 1930s they dominated inner-city sports such as basketball and boxing and produced star athletes in virtually all sports. Many Jews were also prominent in the business, communication, and literary aspects of sport.

These essays, written by leading contemporary sports historians, examine the contributions of Jewish men and women to American sports. Steven A. Riess's article on this topic is the most comprehensive overview ever written and will doubtless become a standard reference for years to come.

Author Notes

Steven A. Riess is professor of history at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago. The former editor of the Journal of Sport History, his books include Touching Base: Professional Baseball and

American Culture in the Progressive Era and Ciry Games: The Evolution of American Urban Sociery and the Rise of Sports.

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

Editor Riess's extensive introductory overview traces Jews' athletic progress from the 19th century onward. Overcoming Jewish tradition and Gentile prejudice, Jews often shone in sports. Riess (City Games, Univ. of Illinois, 1989) adds a full history of Jewish boxers‘some of whom first put up their fists in self-defense‘and includes the great lightweight champion Benny Leonard. Other essays assess Jewish basketball players, female Jewish athletes, settlement houses, and Jewish country clubs, adding a tribute to Hall of Fame baseball player Hank Greenberg. The last essay calls Eric Rolfe Greenberg's The Celebrant (Everest House, 1983) the best Jewish baseball novel. This original study is recommended for libraries that serve Jewish readers and large sports collections where interest warrants.‘Morey Berger, St. Joseph's Hosp. Medical Lib., Tucson, AZ (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Little or no attention has been given to the Jewish American athletic experience. The present volume is a corrective. Riess (Northeastern Illinois Univ.) has brought together very useful essays by an array of good scholars. Though the major focus is on second-generation Jewish males, female participation in athletics is also addressed. The essays touch on themes including "acculturation, structural assimilation, intergenerational conflicts, entrepreneurship, social mobility, gender roles, and anti-Semitism" and cover the sports of boxing, baseball, basketball, tennis, and marathons, as well as teams organized in settlement houses. Two chapters alone are worth the price of the book: one on Eric Greenberg's baseball novel The Celebrant (1983) and the other on Hank Greenberg (the Jewish American sports hero). The Celebrant is arguably the best novel about baseball in American literary history--a true celebration of the "field of dreams." And who of us involved in the great American pastime ever came to bat without a Hank Greenberg Louisville slugger? That national hero hit 58 homers in 1938--only two shy of Babe Ruth's record. Thanks, Dr. Riess, you hit a homer with this one! Excellent index and bibliography; suitable for general readers and undergraduate; highly recommended for all levels. G. H. Shriver; Georgia Southern University

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. xi
Contributorsp. xiii
Abbreviationsp. xv
Sports and the American Jewp. xvii
2 Tough Jews The Jewish American Boxing Experience, 1890-1950p. 60
3 Jewish American Women, Jewish Organizations, and Sports, 1880-1940p. 105
4 Jews and the Making of American Marathoning, 1896-1960p. 132
5 The Rise of Sport at A Jewish Settlement House The Chicago Hebrew Institute, 1908-1921p. 146
6 ""Our Crowd"" at play The Elite Jewish Country Club in the 1920sp. 160
Hank Greenberg The Jewish American Sports Herop. 185
8 Lester Harrison and the Rochester Royals, 1945-1957A Jewish Entrepreneur in the Nbap. 208
Indexp. 323