Greller, Sam : Jews In Sports @ Virtual Museum

Greller, Sam

Samuel J. Greller

water polo

Country Represented:
United States

Years Competed:

Olympic Info:
Greller was a member of the United States water polo team at the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics; one of his teammates was Richard Greenberg. After receiving a first-round bye (they drew no opponent), the Americans drew one of the world's best teams, Hungary (who had defeated Argentina 14-0 in the first-round). The Hungarians overwhelmed the U.S. team as their Jewish goalkeeper, Istvan Barta shut out the Americans, 5-0. The Hungarians went on to win the silver medal, and the U.S. team lost to France, 2-1, in a round-robin for the bronze, officially finishing in seventh place.

Greller, a member of the U.S. Water Polo Hall of Fame, remained active in the sport and returned to the Olympics in 1956 as the manager of the U.S. water polo team (which finished fifth). Despite Greller's dedication, a major deficiency of American water polo was apparent during the 1928 Olympics. Almost all major competitions were held in small, indoor pools and when the U.S. played in larger outdoor pools, they were overwhelmed. Following the Games, the AAU stated that until the U.S. built large outdoor pools for competitions and training, it was useless to compete in water polo in another Olympics. This became apparent after the 1932 Games, where the U.S. surprisingly won the bronze, which was their last water polo medal for 40 years.

Career Highlights:
In 1927, Greller was a member of the Illinois Athletic Club National Indoor Championship water polo team. After his playing career, Greller coached both the Illinois Athletic Club (winning a number of national championships) and the U.S. national team. Greller was the coach of the 1959 Pan-American team that captured the gold medal, the first international championship ever captured by the U.S. In 1976, he was inducted into the United States Water Polo Hall of Fame.

Birth and Death Dates:
b. May 18, 1907 - d. March 1972

Chicago, Illinois

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encyclopedia of JEWS in sports, by Bernard Postal, Jesse Silver, and Roy Silver (New York: Bloch Publishing Co., 1965)