Glickman, Martin Irving

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GLICKMAN, MARTIN IRVING ("Marty "; 1917–2001), U.S. sprinter, radio broadcaster, founding father of basketball on radio, and a track star who was pulled from the 1936 Berlin Olympics because he was Jewish; member of the basketball Hall of Fame.

Glickman was born in the East Bronx, New York, to Harry, a cotton-goods salesman, and Molly, who knew each other in Jassy, Romania, and met again and married in New York. When Glickman was five the family moved to Brooklyn, where Glickman became a football star for James Madison High School on their New York City championship team in 1935, while also winning the city, state, and national sprint champion.

The next year, as a freshman at Syracuse University, Glickman won a spot on the 1936 United States Olympic 4x100-meter relay team. But in one of the ugliest chapters in U.S. Olympic history, Glickman and Sam Stoller, the other Jewish athlete on the track team, were suddenly told in Berlin on August 8, the morning of the qualifying trials, that two other runners, Jesse Owens and Ralph Metcalfe, were replacing them. While it was never proved, it was Glickman's contention and many others' belief that their being denied a chance to compete was a case of blatant antisemitism: Avery Brundage, chairman of the U.S. Olympic Committee, was an enthusiastic supporter of Hitler's regime, and he and assistant U.S. Olympic track coach Dean Cromwell were members of America First, an isolationist political movement that attracted American Nazi sympathizers.

"Joseph Goebbels, head of the Ministry of Propaganda, had contacted Avery Brundage," Glickman said years later on ESPN. "[Goebbels] didn't want to have Jews run for the United States or on that track before 120,000 people, [to] keep them from embarrassing Adolf Hitler."

His Olympic snub remained a central part of his life, sparking this reaction upon his return to Olympic Stadium in Berlin in 1985:

"As I walked into the stadium, I began to get so angry. I began to get so mad. It shocked the hell out of me that this thing of 49 years ago could still evoke this anger. I mean I was fucking mad. I was cussing – I was with people, colleagues of mine, and I was cussing. I was really amazed at myself, at this feeling of anger. Not about the German Nazis, that was a given. But anger at Avery Brundage and Dean Cromwell for not allowing an 18-year-old kid to compete in the Olympic Games just because he was Jewish."

He returned to Syracuse as a sophomore, where his long and distinguished broadcasting career began in 1937: After Glickman scored two touchdowns to help upset Cornell, a local haberdasher hired him to do a sports broadcast on radio for $50 to capitalize on his sudden fame. After graduating in 1939, and a stint in the Marines, Glickman broadcast college basketball games, and was the first radio announcer for the New York Knicks, beginning on November 7, 1946.

Glickman was a pioneer in the technical precision of describing basketball and establishing the precise geometry of the court, using a language and terminology – the key, the lane, the top of the circle, the mid-court stripe, between the circles – that survives to this day. With his unmistakable greeting – "Hello, fans! I'm Marty Glickman" – and his famous calls – "Swish!," "It's high enough, it's deep enough, it's good!," and "It's good … like Nedicks!" – Glickman was the radio voice of the Knicks for 11 years, the football Giants for 19 years, and the New York Jets for 11. He broadcast horse races at Yonkers Raceway for 12 years, did pre- and post-game shows for the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Yankees for 22 years, college basketball for 21 years, Paramount newsreels for 15 years, as well as doing track meets, wrestling matches, high school football, roller derbies, rodeos, four marbles tournaments, and even described the circus to an audience of blind children.

Novelist Jack Kerouac, in On The Road, wrote: "Man, have you dug that mad Marty Glickman announcing basketball games – up-to-midcourt-bounce-fake-set-shot, swish, two points. Absolutely the greatest announcer I ever heard."

Glickman was awarded the Basketball Hall of Fame's Curt Gowdy Award in 1991, elected to the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Hall of Fame in 1992, and the American Sportscasters Hall of Fame in 1993. In 1996 he published The Fastest Kid on the Block: The Marty Glickman Story.

[Elli Wohlgelernter (2nd ed.)]