JCC announcement leaves location of plaques in limbo.
The Michigan Jewish Sports Hall of Fame is much more than just a collection of plaques on walls.
And there are a lot of plaques.
Since 1985, there have been 130 inductees into the Hall of Fame.
Since 1987, there have been 36 recipients of the Alvin and Shirley Foon Humanitarian Award.
Since 1991, there have been 69 Jewish News High School Athletes of the Year.
Since 2012, there have been 41 Pillars of Excellence recipients.
Since 2016, there have been 18 recipients of Dr. Steven and Evelyn Rosen Stars of Tomorrow scholarships.
Each honoree is celebrated with a plaque at the Jewish Community Center of Metropolitan Detroit in West Bloomfield.
But those plaques need a new venue now that the JCC has closed its health club in the D. Dan and Betty Kahn Building.
The JCC has been the Hall of Fame’s only home. The Hall of Fame has been there since 1985.
Stuart Raider, president of the Michigan Jewish Sports Foundation, which oversees the Hall of Fame, wants the Hall of Fame to remain at the JCC. He’s cautiously optimistic that will happen.
“The majority of the Hall of Fame inductees have a connection to the JCC,” he said. “I hope the JCC also appreciates the fact that the Hall of Fame is like the Michigan Jewish sports historical society, and it needs to be preserved.
“The Hall of Fame is very much a part of our community. If the Hall of Fame can’t stay at the JCC, we hope we can find a home in another Jewish venue, like a synagogue.”
As someone who has had the privilege of informing several Hall of Fame inductees about their induction, Raider said, he knows what the honor means to them.
“One man told me it made his life,” Raider said.
West Bloomfield resident Maynard Flusty’s life is intertwined with the JCC and two Hall of Fame inductees.
Flusty, 88, has been using JCC sports and fitness facilities since he was 10, back when the JCC was located at Woodward and Holbrook in Detroit. The building is now the Considine Recreation Center.
Before COVID-19 shut down the JCC health club in West Bloomfield in March, Flusty was working out there for an hour in the morning seven days a week, then taking a steam bath, showering, shaving and kibbitzing with friends.
Each day before leaving the JCC, Flusty stopped at the Hall of Fame plaques of two longtime personal and family friends, Sam “Sonny” Taub, who died in 2019, and Ralph Goldstein, who died in 1988.
Flusty touched each plaque then kissed his hand, like one does after touching a mezuzah.
“The three of us, all lefties, played a lot of basketball at the JCC while we were growing up,” Flusty said.
Taub, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1992, was an all-city basketball and baseball player at Detroit Central High School, basketball and baseball player at the University of Detroit, member of three slow-pitch softball national championship teams, college basketball referee in the Big Ten and Mid-American conferences, and Detroit Mumford High School basketball coach and athletic director.
Goldstein, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1983, was an All-State basketball player at Detroit Central, captain of the U-D basketball team and the first U-D guard to score more than 1,000 points.
Flusty worries about not being able to continue remembering his friends in such a traditional Jewish manner.
He’s already experienced a bad day, he said, when he and his wife Marilynn, who celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary in January, recently cleaned out their lockers at the JCC.
Maynard Flusty doesn’t have the basketball resume of his Hall of Fame friends, but it isn’t shabby.
He was playing for Highland Park Community College when he was drafted into the Army in 1952 during the Korean War. After being discharged in 1954, Flusty was a player and coach at Detroit Institute of Technology.
No discussions about the Hall of Fame’s future at the JCC had taken place as of last week.
“As important as the Hall of Fame is to us at the Michigan Jewish Sports Foundation, we understand the JCC has a lot on its plate these days and we’re further down the line,” Raider said.
Raider has been a JCC health club member for more than 35 years, running on the indoor track every morning he’s there.