Berliner, Myron : Jews In Sports @ Virtual Museum

Berliner, Myron

Berliner played at the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) in the early 1950s and was named first team All-Pacific Coast Conference defensive end in 1952, and second team in 1953 (when he played both offense and defense). Berliner's total playing time for the '53 season was the second highest on the UCLA team. 1953 Heisman award winner Alan Ameche, who became a famous running back for the World Champion Baltimore Colts, said that during his four years of college football, Berliner hit him harder than anyone else.

At his graduation in February 1955 (B.A. in Political Science), Berliner received his commission in the United States Air Force. He completed pilot training and was a B-47 pilot on a Select Crew in the Strategic Air Command (Select is the highest level of crew combat readiness - the ability, in a hostile environment, to deliver a nuclear bomb on target). Just prior to his discharge in May 1959, he was offered a position as assistant coach at the Air Force Academy. Berliner declined and instead began a career in the Aerospace Industry. He was a computer programmer, systems analyst and manager over a period of thirty-three years, which took him to Japan, Korea, Great Britain and Israel, to install air defense and/or air traffic control systems.

From 1970-1972, Berliner took a leave of absence from Hughes Aircraft Company for a Fellowship at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel. While there, he helped develop the Operating System for the Applied Math Departmentís designed and built mainframe computer, the "Golem." He returned to Israel again for two more years, 1982 and 1984, installing military systems while representing Hughes Aircraft Company. He still visits Israel regularly.

Birth and Death Dates:
b. May 23, 1932

Career Highlights:
Born in Los Angeles, Berliner played his high school football at Wilson High School and was coached by Victor Kelley (who played at Carlisle Institute with Jim Thorpe) and Alex Metchikoff (Metchikoff played at Whittier College with future President Richard Nixon). At Wilson, Berliner was the President of the Lettermenís Club, Student Body Boysí Vice President, and recipient of the Kiwanis Award for best student athlete. During this time, Berliner also played for and coached the City Terrace AZAís flag football team. They won several consecutive Southern California Regional Championships.

Upon graduation from Wilson in February 1950, Berliner attended East Los Angeles Junior College. Zeta Beta Tau (ZBT) Fraternity, at the request of the UCLA Athletic Department, convinced Berliner to enroll at UCLA. In the fall of 1950, he joined the freshman football team and played on both offense and defense due to the limited number of players on the team (only 20). The following year, as a sophomore, Berliner joined the UCLA varsity midway through the season. In a game against Oregon State, Berliner made his presence felt as he broke through two blockers to drop future NFL back Sam Baker for a five-yard loss that stopped an Oregon State drive - UCLA won the game, 7-0. Ned Cronin, Los Angeles Daily News Sports Editor described the action and stated, "Baker might have been the hero who tied up the game had it not been for one of several great plays by Myron Berliner, a sophomore end that [UCLA coach] Sanders uncovered. It was second and six on the Bruin 26 when the big Beaver fullback took out around his right end. Berliner played the blockers masterfully, worked his way through them and dumped Baker for a five yard loss."

Despite Berlinerís limited participation in 1951, he received honorable mention All-Pacific Coast that year and made cross town rival USCís All Opponent Team. His performance against USC was reported in the Los Angeles Daily News and Los Angeles Times as follows: "Myron Berliner was in the Trojan backfield so often it looked as if heíd actually come out of the huddle with them" and "It seems inconceivable that with Frank Gifford and Al Charmichael in the backfield, the Trojans couldnít pile up a couple of furlongs. But thatís the way it went, and simply because the Bruins played brilliantly on defense. When little guys like Myron Berliner, who weighs 170 pounds and stands 5'9" can stand off a couple of two timing blockers and still be on his feet to nail the ball carrier, then there isnít much that can be done about it." That year, Berliner helped lead the Bruins to a record of 6-3-0 and a No. 17 ranking in the country.

In 1952, Berliner started for the Bruins at defensive end and was named NBC first team All-America, AP honorable mention All-America, and first team All-Pacific Coast Conference, as the Bruins had a record of 8-1-0 and were ranked No. 6. (The NBC award was restricted to players for just those teams that were in NBC televised games). The following year, as a senior, Berliner shone even though the NCAA rule for unlimited substitution was eliminated and single platoon was reinstated. While Berliner's size was not a handicap on defense, the UCLA coaches preferred taller players at offensive end. Neverthless, Berliner was second on the team in total playing time and was named to several All-Opponent teams, including USCís, for the third consecutive year. That year, UCLA had a record of 8-2-0, won the Pacific Coast Conference and were ranked No. 4 by the UP (and No. 5 by the AP). In the 1954 Rose Bowl, the Bruins lost to No. 3 Michigan State, 28-20. One of Berliner's teammates on the 1953 team was Ira Pauly.

During his career, Berliner informed this web site, the Los Angeles sportswriters were prone to exaggerate his size. He was referred to as a 'lightweight,' 'a midget,' 'mighty mite,' 'pint sized,' 'diminutive end,' and his head coach, Henry 'Red' Sanders referred to him simply as 'a little guy at end.' Harry Culver of the Los Angeles Herald Express reported, "Between Myron Berliner and Dan Laidman the Bruins boast a pair of terrific 155-pounders." Ned Cronin, Sports Editor for the Los Angeles Times, wrote "Myron would be a standout in a group of atrocity victims but that is about as far as one can go in listing his qualifications in the sinew department." Sportswriter George Dougherty, Los Angeles Daily News stated, "Berliner time and time again has defied as many as three blockers to take him out on end plays. Twice Saturday three men were in front of Johnny Olszewski and the 169-pound Berliner pushed them aside and brought Johnny O. down.Ē (Johnny Olszewski was a NFL first round pick and played ten seasons in the NFL).

Berliner's size was further exaggerated by an Los Angeles Times photo of him between two of his taller teammates, All-America, Lineman of the Year and later President Ronald Reaganís pastor, Donn Moomaw (6'4"), and All-Coast and honorable mention All-American, Ernie Stockert (6'5"), both of whom were on their tip toes while Berliner was slouched in-between them. Nevertheless the reports of Berliner's stature, he was an outstanding player for UCLA and sports editor Sid Ziff reported that UCLA coach 'Red' Sanders, in his letter to a selection committee for the ZBTís 1953 Athlete of the Year, wrote "I donít believe there was a better defensive end in the nation against the T formation than Berliner, and last year when we reverted to the one platoon system, he proved outstanding as an offensive end as well." Berliner was named the Jewish fraternity's Athlete of the Year.

Los Angeles, California

Career Dates:
Berliner played as an end at UCLA from 1950-1953.

Physical description:
5'9", 175 pounds

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