31 Facts About Abe Saperstein


Abraham Michael Saperstein was the founder, owner and earliest coach of the Harlem Globetrotters.


Abe Saperstein was a leading figure in black basketball and baseball from the 1920s through the 1950s, primarily before those sports were racially integrated.


Abe Saperstein revolutionized the game of basketball and took the Globetrotters from an unknown team touring small farm towns in the Midwestern United States during the height of the Great Depression to a powerhouse that went on to beat the best team in the all-white National Basketball Association.


Abe Saperstein introduced the three-point shot, which went on to become a mainstay of modern basketball.


Abe Saperstein's family moved from London to Chicago in 1907, when Abe was five years old.


At age 10, Abe Saperstein discovered a lifelong love of sports, playing basketball at the Wilson Avenue YMCA and second base for a parochial school team, though he attended the public Ravenswood Elementary School.


Abe Saperstein attended the University of Illinois, but dropped out to help support his family.

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Abe Saperstein decided not to follow his father into tailoring.


Abe Saperstein eventually landed a position working for the Chicago Park District as a playground supervisor at Welles Park, on Chicago's North Side.


The Chicago Reds were a semi-pro lightweight basketball team, and Abe Saperstein played point guard.


Abe Saperstein went on to become booking agent for several basketball teams as well, until branching out in the late 1920s to form his own team with some of the members of the Savoy Big Five.


Abe Saperstein called the team the New York Harlem Globetrotters.


Many of the towns where the Globetrotters played in their first few years were all white, and Abe Saperstein did not want other teams or spectators to be surprised that his team was black.


Abe Saperstein had ambitions of owning a team in the National Basketball Association and hoped to start a team in California.


Abe Saperstein was denied ownership of the Warriors when the team moved from Philadelphia to San Francisco.


Abe Saperstein widened the free throw lane to 18 feet and created the three-point shot.


Abe Saperstein hoped the three-pointer would become basketball's equivalent of the home run.


Abe Saperstein, who had significant power in the league as owner of the popular Globetrotters, disagreed with this and simply ignored the ruling.


Abe Saperstein eventually acknowledged there was one problem with the 25-foot arc and solved it by adding a 22-foot line in the corners.


Abe Saperstein was a leading figure in the black baseball leagues.


Abe Saperstein created several new leagues, including the Negro Midwest League and, in partnership with Olympic track and field star Jesse Owens, the West Coast Negro Baseball League.


Abe Saperstein founded the white New York Nationals baseball team and the Boston Brownskins, a basketball team that served as a minor league club for the Globetrotters.


Abe Saperstein booked games for the Hong Wah Kues, a basketball team of Chinese Americans from San Francisco.


Abe Saperstein was the eldest of nine children, several of whom were involved with the Globetrotters.


On May 6,1934, Abe Saperstein married Sylvia Franklin from Chicago.

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Abe Saperstein then served as the first vice president at Madison Square Garden Corporation, reporting directly to the then-Chairman Sonny Werblin.


Eloise established a non-profit organization, the Abe Saperstein Foundation, designed to advance opportunities through sports for Chicago's youth, and she was the first woman ever certified as an NBA player representative.


Abe Saperstein died on July 15,2018, at the age of 81.


Abe Saperstein was a tireless worker, taking off just one day a year, Yom Kippur.


Abe Saperstein continued to work right up until his death from a heart attack in March 1966.


The news of Abe Saperstein's death came as a shock to the Globetrotters.