The father of NBA referee, Mendy Rudolph, Harry Rudolph was one of the top basketball referees in the East in the 1930s and 1940s. He later became the president of the Eastern Basketball League.
Birth and Death Dates:
b. 1907 - d. 1973
Rudolph, who lived in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, explained to the New York Times in 1956 how he began his officiating career. He stated, "I got my start by accident in 1929. I was watching a high school practice session one afternoon and the referee didnít show up. The principal asked me if I would help out. I hadnít done any officiating before but I gave it gave it a try and found I liked it. A few days later I went over to the local YMCA and asked for a job refereeing without pay in their house league so I could gain some experience. My first pro assignment was in the New York-Penn League in 1930 and I got $7.50 for itÖ"
Rudolph soon found that he had a talent for officiating and by the mid-1930s, had been nationally certified to work basketball, baseball, and football games (he began umpiring baseball the year after officiating his first basketball game). During the 1936-37 season, he officiated over 120 amateur, high school, college, and pro games and left his job as manager of a bakery. Rudolph was also active in Wilkes-Barre's Jewish community and served as a physical education instructor at the local Jewish Community Center from 1942-53. While at the JCC, he began officiating with his son Mendy Rudolph, who later became one of the NBA's top referees in the 1960s and 1970s.
Harry and Mendy began refereeing together in the Eastern League in the late 1940s, but the senior Rudolph split them up because, "...I could tell that working with the old man made Mendy self-conscious." Even after retiring from officiating, Rudolph continued his association with the league and later became the president. Hubie Brown explained the importance of the Eastern League in the development of top officials by stating, "the majority of the guys who became great officials in the NBA all learned how to referee in the Eastern League. I am talking about guys like Earl Strom, Jake O'Donnell, and Mendy Rudolph..." Another official in the Eastern League was Tommy LaSorda, later manager of baseball's Los Angeles Dodgers.
Use links below to navigate through the basketball section of Jews In Sports.
encyclopedia of JEWS in sports, by Bernard Postal, Jesse Silver, and Roy Silver (New York: Bloch Publishing Co., 1965)
The Wizard of Odds: How Jack Molinas Almost Destroyed the Game of Basketball, by Charley Rosen (New York: Seven Stories Press, 2001)
New York Times, February 1, 1956