Basketball also was big in Philadelphia, and no team got more Inquirer ink than the Philadelphia SPHAs of the recently reborn Eastern League. "SPHA" was an acronym for South Philadelphia Hebrew Association, and the players came from the city's immigrant Jewish neighborhoods.Read the complete story here.
The SPHAs wore blue uniforms with Hebrew lettering, and beginning with the 1929-30 season, they won three consecutive league championships.
Sportswriters were apt to attribute their success to genetics. Jews, it was said, were naturally more coordinated and athletic. The New York Daily News' Paul Gallico wrote that Jews did so well because "the game places a premium on an alert, scheming mind."
The 29th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy will take place August 2-7. On the program schedule are talks about Philadelphia's Jewish history, which will include the Philadelphia SPHAs. For all conference details, click here.