Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Levitt a Sportsman for All Seasons

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Levitt a Sportsman for All Seasons

Article excerpt

Jack Levitt, sportsman-of-all-trades, should have been a character actor.

The face looks familiar. The name rings a bell. The role is not center stage. And he pops up everywhere.

Nowadays, Levitt is general manager of the St. Louis Aces. The World Teamtennis squad opens a new season in September, with seven home matches at the Doubletree Hotel in Chesterfield.

Levitt is a tennis nut. He still plays regularly at age 64. The Aces, who averaged 2,200 fans per match last year, are just his latest sporting adventure of the past half century.

After a lifetime of sports on the side, Levitt made the Aces his full-time job.

"I always had my own company," he said, "but I kept it separate. I was making money. I was happy. I never made any money on this sports stuff. Do we have to put that in there?"

He laughed and said, "I was stupid, I guess. But I just wanted to be involved with sports."

He began as a stickboy for the old Flyers hockey team and a ballboy for the Bombers of the old American Basketball League.

He sold programs at The Arena for the Ice Capades. "Donna Atwood was the star. I fell in love with her."

He spent five years as an infielder in the Cleveland Indians farm system, rooming once in spring training with a morose lad named Roger Maris.

He played basketball against the Harlem Globetrotters.

He ran the shot clock and was public address announcer for the Hawks of the National Basketball Association. He became, and remains, a college scout for NBA scouting director Marty Blake, the former Hawks general manager.

When the Blues arrived, Levitt was P.A. announcer for two years.

With the Hawks gone and pro basketball here presumed dead, he staged three NBA exhibition games. They drew over 40,000 fans to The Arena, one a sellout of 19,000.

He hatched the Braggin' Rights basketball game here between Mizzou and Illinois. He ran a pro tennis tournament that drew 11,000 fans.

"It was all done for the building," he said of his Arena deals. "The Salomons were friends of my folks. When they bought the Blues and the building, they asked me to do the announcing and help them get started."

His tennis events there and around town let local fans see Chris Evert, Jimmy Connors, Martina Navratilova, Bjorn Borg and Ilie Nastase. …

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