A famous NFL referee, a former pro tennis player and a member of the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame are among the notable figures who will be inducted into the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame of Northern California next week.
The class of 2015, along with some stellar Bay Area high school athletes, will be honored at a gala banquet at 5 p.m. May 31 at the Four Seasons Hotel in San Francisco. Radio sports talk host Guy Haberman from 95.7 FM (“the Game”) will be the master of ceremonies.
At its roots, the NorCal Hall of Fame, which has a permanent “Wall of Fame” display at the Oshman Family JCC in Palo Alto, honors locally based Jewish athletes who have excelled in their chosen sports. This year, two people are in that category: Stanford University tennis coach Paul Goldstein and former Stanford gymnast Jennifer Bloom Creinin.
Goldstein, a native of Rockville, Maryland, had a stellar tennis career for the Cardinal in the 1990s, capping his college career with Pac-10 Player of the Year honors in 1998. He was the first player in NCAA history to compete as a starting member of four consecutive national championship teams and the first two-time recipient of college tennis’ Arthur Ashe Sportsmanship and Leadership Award. He went on to have a solid pro career, climbing to as high as No. 58 in singles.
Last year, he was named head men’s tennis coach at Stanford — a position that since has been endowed by philanthropist Tad Taube (a 1957 Stanford graduate) and his wife, Dianne. Goldstein is Stanford’s first Taube Family Director of Men’s Tennis, and his team plays its home matches in the 3,000-seat Taube Family Tennis Stadium, which was built 18 years ago.
Bloom Creinin, a 1987 graduate of Aragon High School in San Mateo, was one of the nation’s top gymnasts as a prep, going undefeated in every event in all four years of league competition, and winning the all-around title at the section championships as a senior. At Stanford, she was an Academic All American, and in 2014, she was inducted into the San Mateo County Sports Hall of Fame.
Jerry Markbreit is being inducted this year as the winner of the Hank Greenberg Award, which goes to someone without a Bay Area connection. Born in Chicago in 1935, Markbreit was an NFL official for 23 seasons, becoming one of the most recognizable referees in the league through his 1999 retirement. He is the only NFL head referee to officiate in four Super Bowls, and when he was a college official, he served as the back judge in the “Game of the Century” in 1966, when No. 1-ranked Notre Dame (8-0) and No. 2-ranked Michigan State (9-0) played to a controversial 10-10 tie. He was inducted into the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 2007.
This year’s Mensch Award, which goes to a deserving recipient who is not necessarily Jewish, is Jesse Sapolu, who spent his entire career (1983-1997) with the San Francisco 49ers. A 6-foot-4, 278-pound fan favorite who played both center and offensive guard, Sapolu is one of six 49ers to own four Super Bowl rings. Since retiring, he has remained active in the community as well as with the 49ers alumni group; the Hawaii native also has played an integral role in establishing the Polynesian Pro Football Hall of Fame in Oahu (earlier this year, he was inducted as part of the second class).
In addition to the four adult honorees, several Jewish high school athletes will be recognized. Udval Battulga, a multisport athlete (volleyball, cross country, track and wrestling) at International High School in San Francisco, has been selected as the Student Mensch Award winner, and Maetal Kogan, a soccer player at Lowell High School in San Francisco, has been named the Ernie Weiner Award winner.
The other high school honorees are Ari Solomon, a standout in football, basketball and soccer at San Lorenzo Valley High School in the Santa Cruz Mountains, and Jake Hamilton, a swimmer at Tahoe-Truckee High School in Truckee.
This year marks the ninth class of inductees, reports Gary Wiener, the longtime executive director of the JSHOF of Northern California. Among the 44 previous inductees are Mike Epstein, Rick Barry, Dolph Schayes, Bob Lurie, Al Rosen, Barry Tompkins, Vida Blue and John Frank.
The JSHOF of Northern California dinner and induction ceremony begins with a celebrity reception at 5 p.m., followed by dinner at 6 p.m. on Sunday, May 31 at the Four Seasons Hotel, 757 Market St., S.F. Cost is $225 per person, or $175 for under age 35. Information is available at www.jshofnc.org or (408) 374-1600. — j. staff