Steinberg: It should be a great night

One of the most memorable thrills of my childhood was watching Sandy Koufax of the Dodgers dominate the White Sox in the 1959 World Series.

Along with relief pitcher Larry Sherry, they completely shut down the White Sox attack. I idolized Sandy and his multiple no-hitters, Cy Young Awards and strikeout records — and the fact he was the most overpowering pitcher in baseball. He and Sherry were Jewish.

Koufax would not pitch in a game on Yom Kippur, holiest day of the Jewish year. While I am certainly ecumenical in rooting for all athletes, regardless of race or ethnicity, it was a special joy for a young Jewish boy in Los Angeles to have Koufax to cheer for.

I have spent 40 years promoting the concept of athletes as role models, triggering positive imitative behavior. Despite what Charles Barkley says, athletes can have an impact on nurturing good values, and ethnic identification can bring pride.

The Merage Jewish Community Center, under the leadership of Dan Bernstein, has become an invaluable addition to the culture of this area. The state-of-the-art fitness facilities are enjoyed by weekend warriors of all backgrounds. In 2006, they developed a Jewish Sports Hall of Fame. Shawn Green, star Dodger outfielder and resident of Newport Beach — who my firm represented — was in the first class. Olympic gold-medal swimmer Jason Lezak joined him. Your humble writer was also inducted.

The fact that I have been inducted into three different Jewish Sports Halls of Fame is not necessarily an indication of how bereft the religion is of true athletes.

There will be another induction ceremony at the JCC on Nov. 27, and all are welcome. In spite of the fact that I will be serving as Master of Ceremonies, it should be a compelling and uplifting event.

There are four new inductees this year.

•Barry Asher had a world-class career as a bowler, winning 10 career titles from the Professional Bowlers Assn. He was technical advisor on the film "The Big Lebowski."

•Alan Dolensky starred in basketball for the University of New Mexico, winning the Most Valuable Player award his senior season. He also played in three Maccabiah Games.

•Gabrielle Domanic had a prolific career in water polo. She won the gold medal with the U.S. women's team at the 2004 FINA World Championships in 2003 and led the UCLA team to four consecutive national championships.

•Benny Feilhaber, MLS professional soccer player with the New England Revolution, was a mainstay of the UCLA soccer team and played in all three games for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

In addition to the inductees, a number of athletes from local high schools have been nominated for the scholar-athlete awards.

Corona Del Mar High is represented by Justin Ruffalo (basketball) and Ben Zepfel (water polo). Newport Harbor has Steve Michaelsen (football and track and field).

Tarbut V'Torah has the largest contingent, with Zev Gollis (soccer), Joseph Linfield (basketball), Danielle Ben Menachem (volleyball), Dvorah Elster (soccer and volleyball) and Savannah Levin (soccer).

Janey Jubas swims at University, as does Brianna Weinstein from Irvine.

Zoe Kreitenberg plays volleyball at Sage Hill School and Lee Lazar runs track at Northwood.

Adam Farshad plays football and soccer at Laguna Beach.

These are some of the best and brightest of their generation, exemplifying excellence in athletics and character.

It will be a feel-good evening and I may even tell a few jokes. Tickets for the event are $75 per person, $50 for students and are available by phone at (949) 435-3400 or at

LEIGH STEINBERG is a renowned sports agent, author, advocate, speaker and humanitarian. His column appears weekly. Follow Leigh on Twitter @steinbergsports or

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