Friedberg, Sam : Jews In Sports @ Virtual Museum

Friedberg, Sam

Samuel Friedberg

An outstanding pass-catching end at the University of Virginia in the mid-1920s, Friedberg was named to The Jewish Tribune's 1926 mythical Jewish All-America team. Other members of the squad included Michigan quarterback Benny Friedman, Brown 'Iron Men' Dave Mishel (a halfback) and Al Cornsweet (a fullback), and NYU guard Dave Skudin (named as an end).

After playing minor league baseball and semipro football, Friedberg became a successful lawyer in West Virginia. He passed the state bar exam in 1930, then enjoyed a 30-year law practice, served two terms as Special Circuit Court Judge, and was director of Mingo County Legal Services. According to a 1977 article in the Virginia-Pilot, Friedberg may have been alluded to in Leon Uris's novel, QB VII, as Ben Cady, the brother of the book's main character.

Birth and Death Dates:
b. February 22, 1903 - d. August 24, 1976

Career Highlights:
Friedbrg was raised in the Jewish ghetto in Norfolk, where his parents owned a bakery. A natural athlete, he attended Maury High School, where he lettered in four sports (football, basketball, baseball, and track) and helped Maury win Virginia State championships in football, basketball, and baseball. After winning the 1923 Virginia basketball title, money was raised to send the team to a national tournament in Chicago.

Friedberg, however, had a problem because the trip was scheduled during Passover. His religious parents forbade his attendance because he would be unable to eat according to the dietary laws of Judaism. Friedberg convinced his mother to make him enough food for the entire week and he went to Chicago with his teammates. They lost to a team from Colorado in the first round.

Sam attended the University of Virginia after graduating from Maury and became one of the school's most successful athletes. A two-year letterman in football, Friedberg played for the legendary Earl "Greasy" Neale and helped the Cavaliers finish 7-1-1 in 1925. The following year, Friedberg registered 310 receiving yards and scored three touchdowns. In two games in particular, Friedberg was a key member of the Cavaliers.

Against Washington and Lee, who Virginia had not beaten in four seasons, Friedberg scored in the first minute of the game as Virginia shocked their opponents and rolled to a 30-7 win. The next game was against Maryland and Friedberg made a remarkable catch to help Virginia come from behind to tie the game, 6-6. Maryland coach Curly Byrd said, "No man I've seen, and that includes the Michigan ends, can hold a candle to the forward pass catching to Virginia's Sam Friedberg. In that particular feature of the game, the Virginia flanker stands out by himself."

Friedberg helped lead the Cavaliers to a 6-2-2 season in 1926, his senior year. That year, he was also a letterwinner in basketball and baseball while at Virginia. Friedberg then signed with the Cincinnati Reds and played in the minors before leg problems forced his retirement from professional baseball. After his playing career ended, Sam coached Lane High School in Charlottesville to the Virginia Class B football title. He later served as player-coach for the Norfolk Doughboys, a semi-pro football team.

Norfolk, Virginia

Career Dates:
Friedberg played at the University of Virginia from 1924-1926.

Physical description:
5'8", 144 pounds

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The Jewish Tribune, December 8, 1926
Virginia-Pilot, February 27, 1977