Over the years, members of Washington State’s Jewish community have amassed sports collections, played on softball leagues, bet on winning horses, won bouts in the ring, and won (or run) record-smashing races.
They have also doctored injured pro sports players, broadcast major games, and, as investors, “have been part of every single major sports franchise in Seattle,” according to Seattle filmmaker Stephen Sadis.
Sadis, along with sportswriter Dan Aznoff, community volunteer Eugene Normand, and sports memorabilia collector David Eskenazi, have been researching and documenting the stories of the state’s Jewish sports figures on behalf of the Washington State Jewish Historical Society (WSJHS). “Instrumental early on in the process were WSJHS members Ralph Maimon, organizing the
project, and Sonny Gorasht, who brought in many of the horse racing people,” said Lisa Kranseler, the historical society’s executive director. The society’s 2012 theme is called “Instant Replay: Featuring Washington State Jews in Sports.”
The results will ultimately be published in a book, “Distant Replay,” to be sold by the statewide Jewish historical organization.
“Distant Replay” aims to provide a comprehensive history of the Washington State Jewish community’s individual and collective involvement in sports.
Kranseler is proud of the effort.
“This is a first-time effort to capture the stories and history statewide,” she said. “We have nothing else like this in [the] archives.”
Though Sadis acts like an enthusiastic dad cheering on his kid’s team, he said there are still parameters for collecting stories for the book. They want histories that are “not only about the majors, but lots of great little stories…showing that it’s more than just a game,” he said.
The Seattle-area filmmaker has an established interest in local sports history. He directed “The Seattle Rainiers” (1999) and “The Miracle Strip: A Story of Longacres Race Track” (1993), a documentary of the track founded by Jewish entrepreneur Joseph Gottstein, which will be featured at an Oct. 3 WSJHS screening.
The committee rated the athletes by their sports, gender, region throughout the state, and whether they had spent much of their lives here. At this point, WSJHS would like to see more sports figures and stories from east of the Cascades.
Kranseler also wants to reach out to younger athletes.
“They [too] are part of the history,” she said.
Graphics are important, she notes. “We are asking for photos and snapshots,” Kranseler said. “This sports history book is only as good as the submissions we get.”