Last NameSportCountryYear Inducted

Sport: Basketball
Inducted: 1979
Country: United States
Born: July 4, 1902 in London, England
Died: March 15, 1966

Abe Saperstein was founder, owner, and coach of the Harlem Globetrotters Basketball Team. He was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1970.

In 1927, following an unspectacular semi-pro baseball and professional basketball career—he stood 5'5"—Saperstein took over an all-Negro basketball team called the Savoy Big Five (named for Chicago's Savoy Ballroom), changed its name to the Harlem Globetrotters, and created a legend that is currently well into its second half-century.

The early Trotters were a serious basketball five, sporting a 101-6 record the first year, 145-13 in 1928, and 151-13 in 1929. Finding difficulty locating willing opponents, Saperstein conceived the idea of fancy, comedic, razzle-dazzle type of play, and soon the team became a must-see attraction on the professional basketball barnstorming circuit. It was not until 1940 that the Trotters started showing a profit, and through those lean years, Saperstein was not only its coach, chauffer, and trainer, he was also the team's only substitute.

All their clowning notwithstanding, the Globetrotters won the World Basketball Championship in 1940, giving substance to Saperstein's long-ignored claim that given the opportunity, they were among basketball's best. In 1943-44, the Trotters captured basketball'’s International Cup.

Over the years, the Globetrotters developed into an international entertainment attraction, playing in more than 80 countries on five continents, on television, and in motion pictures. They are undoubtedly the most famous sports organization in the world, with Saperstein labeled the "Barnum of Basketball" and his Trot ters known as "America's Number One Goodwill Ambassadors."

Saperstein was also a pioneering entrepreneur in America's Negro Baseball League and was a key figure in opening the way for African-Americans into professional sports.

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