Hershkowitz, Victor

views updated


HERSHKOWITZ, VICTOR ("Vic "; 1918–), U.S. handball player, considered the greatest all-around player in handball history; winner of over 40 handball titles, including nine straight Three-Wall Singles Championships, and member of Handball Hall of Fame. Hershkowitz was born in Williamsburg, New York, the eighth of nine children, to Beila (Gelb) and Shmuel (Sam) from Ugocsa, Hungary. Hershkowitz went to Alexander Hamilton and Eastern District high schools, but was not a member of the school's handball club, which included Red *Auerbach. After graduating in 1936, and with few jobs available during the Depression, the stocky 5 ft. 8 in., 173 lb. Hershkowitz started playing handball in neighborhood parks. In 1942 he won the men's doubles One-Wall Championship, and then after the war he started a streak of winning at least one national championship every year from 1947 to 1967, except for 1959. "I had a good instinct as to where the ball would be most of the time. I was born with that, probably," he said, reflecting on his career. Hershkowitz, who played and practiced part time between his hours working as a fireman, won three of the national singles trophies on three different-sized courts. His crowning achievement was in 1952, when he captured the National Singles One-Wall, Three-Wall and Four-Wall titles. Hershkowitz continued playing into his eighties, accumulating a dozen Masters titles as well, beginning in 1966. He was elected to the usha Hall of Fame in 1957.

[Elli Wohlgelernter (2nd ed.)]