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NorCal Jewish sports hall of fame opens its doors for NBA great Dolph Schayes, four others

by russell eisenman, j. correspondent

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The Jewish Sports Hall of Fame of Northern California’s 2014 class is headlined by a three-time Olympic champion, an NBA Hall of Famer and the creator of the famous “BillyBall” radio and TV ads.

photo/youtube Dolph Schayes
photo/youtube Dolph Schayes
The induction ceremony will take place Sunday, April 13, at the Four Seasons Hotel in San Francisco, beginning with a reception and silent auction at 5 p.m. The induction and dinner will follow at 6 p.m.

Debbie Meyer, 61, a former world record-holder and winner of the 200-, 400- and 800-meter freestyle swimming races in the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, will be honored at the event.

Now the owner of a swim school outside of Sacramento, and the coach of the Truckee-Tahoe Swim team in Truckee, she is the only female swimmer to win three individual freestyle gold medals in one Olympics. Meyer is receiving the Mensch Award, which goes to a deserving non-Jew.

The Hank Greenberg Award, which goes to someone without a Bay Area connection, is being presented to Dolph Schayes, largely considered the Sandy Koufax of basketball. Schayes played his entire Hall of Fame career with the Syracuse Nationals and their successor, the Philadelphia 76ers. A 6-foot-7 forward/center during his playing days in the late ’40s through early ’60s, he was a 12-time all-star, and in his 16-year career, he led his team to the postseason 15 times.

Schayes, 85, named by the NBA in 1996 as one of the league’s 50 greatest players of all-time, is expected to attend the induction ceremony.

“What’s exciting about this event is that attendees won’t just be listening to boring speeches, but actually getting a chance to meet the inductees,” said Gary Wiener, director of the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame of Northern California. Part of the event includes the former athletes sitting on a panel, “and people can walk right up and talk to them.”

Andy Dolich
Andy Dolich
Schayes’ son, Danny, is another member of the 2014 class. Danny, selected by the Utah Jazz with the 13th pick in the 1981 NBA draft, had a long career in the NBA, playing for seven teams over nearly two decades. The 6-foot-11 star also played on the U.S. basketball team that won a gold medal at the 1977 Maccabiah Games.

The Jewish Sports Hall of Fame of Northern California has a permanent “Wall of Fame” display at the Palo Alto JCC, which would not be possible had it not been for support from Claude Rosenberg, Wiener said. Rosenberg, a legendary Jewish philanthropist who died in 2008, will be inducted posthumously.

He was “the first most generous supporter” of the JSHFNC, Wiener noted, “which allowed us to craft and erect our permanent presence at the Palo Alto JCC.”

Among his athletic achievements, Rosenberg lettered in baseball and basketball at Lowell High School in San Francisco and played baseball at Stanford University. He also was a board member of the Positive Coaching Alliance, a national nonprofit with the mission to transform the culture of youth sports so youth athletes can have a positive, character-building experience. Harris Barton, a former offensive lineman for the San Francisco 49ers, whom Rosenberg took under his wing when he was a young player in the late ’80s, will sit on the panel honoring Rosenberg.

Andy Dolich, a sports executive who held positions with, the Oakland A’s and Golden State Warriors, among other franchises, will round out the list of 2014 inductees. Dolich has more than three decades of experience in the professional sports industry, including creating the famous “BillyBall” ads (playing off the team’s run-and-gun style under manager Billy Martin) that helped change the sports marketing landscape in the Bay Area in the early ’80s.

“I am incredibly honored to be inducted with this group of people,” said Dolich, a one-time member of Temple Israel in Alameda who grew up in Valley Stream, N.Y., where he had a bar mitzvah in 1960.  “When I saw who was on the list, I just thought, ‘Wow, this is very cool’ and I’m really looking forward to the event.”

Dolich currently operates a sports consulting agency, Dolich and Associates, teaches at Stanford and USF, and does work for Comcast SportsNet Bay Area (writing a blog and appearing on its show, “Yahoo SportsTalk Live.”). A couple of years ago, Dolich and his brother created Meshuggenorah, a foam menorah headpiece.

Zach Plante
Zach Plante
“I’m not quitting my day job,” Dolich remarked, “but if I can convince Adam Sandler or Andy Samberg to wear it, it will go viral.”

In addition to the five inductees mentioned so far, several high school athletes will be honored at the ceremony.

One of them is Chris Laub of Redwood High School in Larkspur. The recipient of this year’s Aerial Gilbert Award for overcoming obstacles, Laub survived four years of chemotherapy at age 8 and is expected to play college golf at the Division I level next year.

The first Ernie Weiner Scholarship recipient will be Zach Plante, a track and cross country runner at Menlo-Atherton High School in Atherton. He has signed a letter of intent to compete and attend Dartmouth College starting in the fall.

Katie Regalia, an all-city volleyball player at Mission High School in San Fran-cisco, will receive the first Student Mensch Award. Other honorees are Talia Seder, an outstanding athlete in crew who attends the Jewish Community High School of the Bay in San Francisco, and Haley Sutton, a track and field standout at Northgate High School in Walnut Creek.

The induction ceremony will be hosted by Roxy Bernstein, the radio play-by-play man for U.C. Berkeley men’s basketball. Other celebrities taking part, either as presenters or panel hosts, include radio play-by-play man Ted Robinson, sports announcer Jim Kozimor and Barton.

This year marks the eighth class of inductees. Among the 39 previous inductees are Mike Epstein, Rick Barry, Larry Brown, Bob Lurie, Al Rosen, Barry Tompkins, Ben Wildman-Tobriner, Vida Blue and John Frank. Some non-Jews have been elected in the Mensch Award category.

Jewish Sports Hall of Fame of Northern California dinner and induction ceremony. 6 p.m., Sunday, April 13 at Four Seasons Hotel, 757 Market St., S.F. Celebrity reception and silent auction at 5 p.m. $250. or (408) 374-1600.



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