Handball - 2006
A multi-sport star at Los Angeles High, Max Gold went on to make his mark – and elevate awareness of Jewish athletes – as a national handball champion.
Born in New York in 1897, Gold spent his first 13 years in the Big Apple before moving to Los Angeles with his parents. He immediately excelled against his West Coast competition, starring for Los Angeles High in handball, basketball and track. He continued his basketball heroics for the Los Angeles Athletic Club, most notably as a member of the 1919 National AAU Men’s Basketball Championship All-Star Team.
The following year, Gold won the second-ever AAU National Handball Championships in both singles and doubles, and repeated as singles champ in 1921. He was ranked as the second best forward in the nation in 1923, captaining the second All-America team.
The opening paragraph of the Los Angeles Times’ coverage of Max Gold’s first national handball championship exhibits the pride in which Gold took in his Jewish heritage.
The Times wrote of the title match: “‘The Irish invented handball, but the Jews improved the game.’ So cried a wag of Hebrew extraction as Max Gold, a slim, lithe cat-footed descendant of Abraham was literally walking away from George Klawiter yesterday in the finals of the national AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) championship. He whispered the words.”
Gold served in the Navy and later joined Hollywood’s burgeoning film industry. His life was tragically cut short in 1930 when two planes collided over the ocean two miles south of Redondo Beach while the then-Assistant Director was filming a sequence for Fox Studios’ Such Men Are Dangerous.