Harry Herbert


Inducted into Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, 1984

Born in Hartford, Herbert was an outstanding all-around athlete in both high school and college. A three-sport star at Hartford High School (football, basketball, and baseball), he won the 135-pound class AAU wrestling championship in 1917. After high school, he attended Syracuse University, where he continued his athletic success, playing both football and lacrosse.
In 1920, Herbert helped Syracuse finish the season with a record of 6-2-1; they outscored their opponents 201-27! The following year, the Orangemen had a record of 7-2, but Harry suffered a broken neck in the penultimate game of the season against Colgate. His injury was so critical that a local newspaper reported his death.

In December 1921, the Jewish weekly American Hebrew specifically mentioned Herbert in its ‘Who’s Who in Athletics’ article. The Hebrew stated: “…although a comparatively light man, he played the half-back position. He is considered one of the most aggressive players on the eleven and his habit of making long gains…will be remembered for years to come at Syracuse. He is exceptionally speedy and his lighter weight aids him in dodging tacklers.”

Herbert, who also starred on Syracuse’s lacrosse and wrestling teams, hoped to make a quick return to the football field following the Colgate game in 1921. While recovering, Herbert coached high school football in Syracuse for two years. In 1926, he went to Boston University and began playing football again. During the 1926 season, Herbert’s field goal defeated Holy Cross in the final game of the season. It gave Boston its first major victory in its football history.

Herbert returned to Hartford, where he coached football at Hartford High and at Trinity College. In 1930 he became executive director of the Hartford YMHA and went on to direct community centers in Norwalk, Connecticut and Lawrence, Massachusetts. In 1941 he joined the staff of the Jewish Welfare Board, where he served until his retirement. During World War II, he supervised USO activities for troops in the China-Burma area. He received the Medal of Freedom from President Truman for his work.