Goldfaden, Ben : Jews In Sports @ Virtual Museum

Goldfaden, Ben

Benjamin Paul Goldfaden

After playing at George Washington University in the 1930s, Goldfaden played professionally for ten seasons, including two games for the Washington Capitols in 1946-47, the first season of the Basketball Association of America (BAA); in 1949, the BAA changed its name to the NBA. During his career in the American Basketball League, Goldfaden was a member of three championships clubs.

Birth and Death Dates:
b. Sept. 6, 1913

Career Highlights:
A high school star in Newark, New Jersey, Goldfaden was an excellent forward at George Washington in the 1930s, and he played on some great Colonial teams. In 1936, GW had a record of 16-3 and were rated as one of the top teams in the country. The following year, they finished 16-4 and were rated even higher (official polls did not begin until the late 1940s).

After graduating, Goldfaden played professionally for over ten years in the American Basketball League (considered the top pro league in the East before the founding of the NBA; it was actually a semi-pro league). Goldfaden began his ABL career with the Washington Heurichs in 1938-39, playing in 19 games and racking up 117 points (third on the team) for the 7-22 Heurichs. That year, he was released mid-season, but returned to the squad after starting center Ed Kweller unexpectedly left the team. The Washington Post exclaimed that Godlfadden "periodically is a sensational all-around man and is a ever dangerous scorer."

The following year, the franchise changed its nickname to the Heurich Brewers. They finished 19-14, second in the league, and lost the championship to the Philadelphia Sphas (the nickname stood for the South Philadelphia Hebrew Association). Goldfaden remained with the Washington team (which called itself the Brewers in 1940-41) for two more seasons before moving to the Sphas in 1942-43. He played in 12 games and averaged 6.3 points per game. The Sphas (or 'Hebrews' as some newspapers called them) finished 8-6, then won the championship by defeating Trenton in a seven-game final series.

In 1943-44, Goldfaden joined the Wilmington Bombers and was the member of a championship club for the second straight season; he was one of only three players to appear in every game for the 17-9 Bombers. Goldfaden was third on the team in scoring as the Bombers won the title by coming back from 3-1 to defeat the Sphas 4-3 in the finals. After playing only five games in 1944-45, Goldfaden joined the Trenton Tigers in 1945-46.

Goldfaden played his final three ABL seasons with the Tigers, helping them win the ABL championship in 1946-47 as the team's third leading scorer (a career high 288 points, 9.6 average). Trenton finished the regular season 17-17 and in third place of the Southern Division (the ABL expanded that year despite the formation on a new league, the BAA). In the playoffs, the Tigers surprisingly advanced to the finals. They won the championship by default when their opponents, the Baltimore Bullets, chose to play in the World Professional Tournament instead of the ABL finals (the tournament was held from 1939-49 and attracted the top pro teams from various leagues).

Besides winning his third ABL championship in 1946-47, Goldfaden also played for the Washington Capitols in the initial season of the Basketball Association of America. The BAA had aspirations of becoming a national professional league (there had been no real attempt to form one since the 1920s), and eventually caused the demise of other pro leagues (the ABL folded in 1953). In 1949 the BAA eventually merged with the National Basketball League, a major league based in the Midwest, to become the NBA. In its first season, many people viewed the BAA as just another league and it was common for players to play a couple of games in different leagues. Goldfaden appeared in only two games for the Capitols (coached by Hall of Famer Red Auerbach), and scored two points (Washington finished the season atop the Eastern Division with a record of 49-11).

Goldfaden returned to the ABL for one more season, playing for Trenton in 1947-48. He was sixth on the team in scoring. They finished 17-15, but lost in the playoffs to Wilkes-Barre. According to records compiled by historian Robert Bradley, Goldfaden scored 1,378 points in 231 games during his 10-year ABL career, for a 6.0 average.

Newark, New Jersey

Career Dates:
Goldfaden played at George Washington University from 1935-1937. He played in the ABL for Washington from 1938-1942; for the Philadelphia Sphas in 1942-43; with Wilmington from 1943-45; and for Trenton from 1945-1948. He also played in BAA for Washington in 1946-47.

Physical description:
6'3", 185 pounds

Career Statistics:
In the NBA:
Games: 2
Points: 2
Points Per Game: 1.0

Field Goals Made: 0
Field Goals Attempted: 2
Field Goal Percentage: 0.000

Free Throws Made: 2
Free Throws Attempted: 4
Free Throw Percentage: .500

Rebounds: not available
Assists: 0
Assists Per Game: 0.0
Personal Fouls: 3

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encyclopedia of JEWS in sports, by Bernard Postal, Jesse Silver, and Roy Silver (New York: Bloch Publishing Co., 1965)
The Official NBA Encyclopedia: Third Edition, edited by Jan Hubbard (New York: Doubleday, 2000)
Ronald Encyclopedia of Basketball, edited by William G. Mokray (Ronald Press: 1962)
Washington Post, January 8, 1939