Abby Hoffman

“Only she who attempts the absurd will achieve the impossible”
– Plaque honoring Abigail “Abby” Hoffman

Abby Hoffman is one of the most recognizable Canadian Jewish Athletes. She is in Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, and she is an inspiration to women athletes internationally.

Her sports career started much like you’d see in the story-line of some cheesy B-movie from Hollywood. If any producers are interested, I’ll write the script. As a little girl in Toronto growing up in the 50s, she wanted to play ice hockey. Alas, there were no girls leagues nearby. With nothing to lose, she cut her hair and joined a boy’s league under the name “Ab Hoffman”.

The rest, as they say, is history.

After being an all-star hockey player, getting discovered, then riding the wave of human interest stories the world round, she eventually found her calling in track and field. She competed in a slew of world events, beginning when she was only 14 years old! Throughout her career, she was often ranked among the top 10 middle distance runners in the world. She competed in the Olympics in 1964, 1968, 1972, and finished her career as the flag bearer for the Canadian team in 1976. She won a two gold medals, a silver, and a bronze in the Pan American Games, and she won a gold medal in the 1966 Commonwealth Games.

Besides being an athlete, Abby Hoffman taught political studies at the University of Guelph, worked as the executive secretary of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, supervisor of sports services for Ontario, became the first woman director general of Sport Canada, wrote a fitness column for Chatelaine, and worked as a senior advisor for the Women’s Health Bureau. She has quite the resume.

Abby Hoffman has been recognized around the world for her career in and outside of athletics since the 60s. We now recognize her in the Jewish Canadian Athletes Hall of Fame.

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Dan Shulman

“I’m very lucky. It seems like all my friends would trade places with me if they could, but I wouldn’t trade places with them!”
Dan Shulman

Yes, I know that Dan Shulman is not an athlete, but as he partially inspired the blog, he will be inducted anyway. Here’s what Wikipedia says about him:

Dan Shulman (born February 10, 1967 in Toronto, Ontario) is a Canadian-born sportscaster with ESPN, serving as the network’s voice for baseball games on television and radio. He is the lead announcer for both ESPN’s college basketball coverage (primarily paired with Dick Vitale) and ESPN Radio’s Saturday and Sunday night baseball coverage (with Dave Campbell).

Shulman graduated from the University of Western Ontario in actuarial science, but he eventually moved into his lifelong obsession with sports.

Shulman began his broadcasting career at Western, becoming a main voice of university football and basketball for the Western Mustangs on CHRW radio in London, and also as a job at radio station CKBB in Barrie, Ontario. During the early 90’s, he was hired by the Fan 1430 (a sports radio station in Toronto, now known as the Fan 590) as the host of Prime Time Sports. In 1995, he became the play-by-play voice on TSN for their broadcasts of Toronto Blue Jays baseball games, alongside with former Blue Jays catcher Buck Martinez. Shulman remained with the network for seven years, and still works with Buck Martinez for TSN during the World Series, filing daily reports.

After his Toronto stint, Shulman was lured by ESPN to cover sporting events like baseball and college basketball in the U.S. He currently serves as the voice of MLB on ESPN Radio, along with working with Dick Vitale on Saturday Primetime college basketball games, a duty he will add for the 2007 season. This contract will expire in 2007.

Despite working in the United States, Shulman resides in Toronto with his wife and children.

I had a brief run-in with actuarial science, so I understand his desire to pursue something completely different. His dad, Arnie, wasn’t as happy at first, but he soon warmed up to it when he realized his son’s talent. Of all the things I read about Dan Shulman, the one thing that really sticks out is that his dad’s name was Arnie. Arnie is a name you don’t hear enough of anymore. We need more people to start naming their kids Arnie and not all the wacky names people are making up these days.

Earlier this month, Dan turned 40 years young. Though he’s technically “over the hill”, his career is in full stride. Some say that he may be Baseball Hall of Fame material as a broadcaster. Until that time though, he’ll have a place in OUR Hall of Fame.


Thanks for visiting the Jewish Canadian Athletes Hall of Fame.

This blog is inspired by the great Bill Simmons, “The Sports Guy.” Bill Simmons is a writer for ESPN who, besides being incredibly funny and witty, often spends articles responding to readers’ emails. One such email exchange occurred on Valentines Day:

Q: I grew up a Jewish Canadian kid. There are no sports heroes for Jewish Canadian kids. We have some American Jews (Shawn Green, Jay Fiedler, 2/3 of the Red Sox infield) and some Canadians (Nash, Morneau, the NHL) but I don’t remember a successful Jewish Canadian athlete. The closest we ever had was Mathieu Schneider of the Montreal Canadians (who sounded Jewish but turned out to be neither Jewish nor Canadian — his dad was Jewish and he grew up in the U.S.). That sucked. Anyway, Dan Shulman = Jew from Toronto. Love him. Thanks for giving him the props he deserves. We can all dream.
–Andy K., Toronto

SG: I just hope that e-mail inspires someone to launch a blog devoted to the greatest Jewish Canadian sports figures of all time.

Andy K., you have inspired me. I am neither Jewish nor Canadian, but I AM here to remedy this deplorable lack of information. Without further adieu, I present the Hall of Fame.