Schwartz, Sol 'Butch' : Jews In Sports @ Virtual Museum

Schwartz, Sol 'Butch'

Solomon Schwartz

Nicknamed "Butch" because he was the son of a Kosher butcher, Schwartz played three seasons at Long Island University and helped the Blackbirds win two NIT (National Invitational Tournament) championships. In 1939, LIU won the NIT and were recognized as National Champions by the Helms Foundation (it was one of only four occasions that the Helms Foundation awarded the national title to a team other than the NCAA tournament champion; the NCAA tournament began in 1939). Schwartz played in the American Basketball League after graduating.

Birth and Death Dates:

Career Highlights:
In 1939, Schwartz joined LIUís varsity team as a sophomore (freshmen could not play varsity at this time), and was an important player for the undefeated Blackbirds (one of his classmates was Ossie Schectman). They went 21-0 during the season, outscoring their opponents by 19 points per game (1,188-705); Schwartz appeared in 20 games during the regular season and scored 91 points, sixth on the team.

At the end of the year, the Blackbirds were invited to play in the second annual NIT. In the NIT, the Blackbirds defeated New Mexico A&M, 52-45, and Bradley, 36-32, to set up a face-off of undefeated teams in the final. Schwartz scored three points in the championship game and LIU defeated previously unbeaten Loyola (Ill.) by a score of 44-32 to win the tournament and capture the Helms National Championship.

The following season, following the graduation of All-Americans Irv Torgoff, Dan Kalpowitz, and Jack Bromberg, Schwartz became one of LIUís most important players. Now a junior, Schwartz started at forward, and was named All-Met honorable mention after finishing third on the squad in scoring with 208 points. LIU returned to the NIT as defending champions with a record of 19-3, but could not repeat the previous year's success. Schwartz scored nine points in the Blackbirds' 45-38 first-round loss to DePaul (led by All-America forward Lou Possner).

In 1941, Schwartz returned to the Blackbirds as a senior and finished second on the team in scoring with 207 points (fourth in the Metropolitan area) while playing in every game. LIU ended the regular season with a record of 22-2 and played in the NIT for the third consecutive season. Joined in the starting line-up by Schectman, and sophomore forward Saul Cohen, Schwartz was outstanding in the tournament. LIU defeated Westminster, 48-36, in the first round and Seton Hall, 49-26, in the semifinals. Schwartz scored 10 points against Seton Hall. In the tournament final, Schwartz racked up a game-high 19 points, helping LIU defeat Ohio University, 56-42; it was the school's second NIT victory in three years.

In addition to LIUís second championship, the 1941 NIT is noted for another achievement. Seton Hallís great player, Bob Davies, unveiled the behind-the-back dribble in the quarterfinals. LIU coach Clair Bee was asked prior to their semifinal match-up how to stop Davies, and he tartly responded, ďHandcuffs.Ē Absent the ability to employ a genuine restraining device, Bee used Schwartz on the All-America Davies. During the game, Schwartz stole the ball from Davies both times he attempted the behind-the-back dribble. In LIUís shockingly easy win over the previously unbeaten Seton Hall, Schwartz held Davies to one field goal before Davies fouled out.

Following his outstanding college career, Schwartz played professional basketball in the ABL for 10 years. In 1941-42, he joined the Philadelphia Sphas (the nickname stood for the South Philadelphia Hebrew Association) and appeared in 10 games. The Sphas finished the season with an overall record of 13-13. The following year, Schwartz played in 13 games and led the team in scoring with 90 points, as Philadelphia finished 8-6 and defeated Trenton in a seven-game playoff to capture the ABL championship (it was the sixth ABL title in team history).

Schwartz was a key member of the Sphas the following year as they made their run towards another championship. He finished the season with 135 points in 20 games, and the Sphas with a record of 13-12 reached the finals, but lost to Wilmington. Butch missed the 1944-45 season (when the Sphas won the final championship in team history) and played in only 7 games in 1945-46; the Sphas reached the finals again before losing to Baltimore. Schwartz returned to the game full-time in 1946-47. That year, Butch played in 32 games and was fifth on the team in scoring (248 points), but the Sphas lost in the semifinals after a 19-14 regular season record.

Schwartz played parts of four more seasons in the ABL, but remained with the Sphas for only one of them, playing five games for Philadelphia in 1947-48. Butch then played for the Paterson Crescents in 1948-49, appearing in 24 games (and averaging 6.6 points per game). The Crescents finished 24-17 and lost in the playoffs. Over the next two seasons, Schwartz appeared in a total of four games for Trenton and Allentown and retired from the ABL following the 1950-51 season.

New York City

Career Dates:
Schwartz played guard and forward at LIU from 1938-1941. He then turned pro and played in the ABL from 1941-51, for the Philadelphia Sphas, the Paterson Crescents and for the Trenton and Allentown ABL-affiliates.

Use links below to navigate through the basketball section of Jews In Sports.

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encyclopedia of JEWS in sports, by Bernard Postal, Jesse Silver, and Roy Silver (New York: Bloch Publishing Co., 1965)
The Modern Encyclopedia of Basketball, edited by Zander Hollander (New York: Doubleday, 1979)
Ronald Encyclopedia of Basketball, edited by William G. Mokray (Ronald Press: 1962)
New York Times, March 13, 1939
New York Times, March 11, 1940
New York Times, March 17, 1941