Anne Goldstein (January 16, 1913–March 14, 1983), a women's amateur basketball player of the 1930s. Goldstein was the mainstay of some of the great women teams in Chicago during the Depression years, notably the Jewish People's Institute Girls, Spencer Coals, and Bill Rand Girls, all ranked among the most famous women's teams in the history of Chicago basketball.
Anne Goldstein was born in Chicago on January 16, 1913, to immigrant parents from Russia (Abe and Rose Goldstein) on the city's west side. In the 1927-28 basketball season, when she was only 14 years of age, she joined the Jewish People's Institute Girls, which was probably one of the three top women amateur teams in the city. In 1930, she was living at 1514 S. Central Park Avenue in the heavily Jewish North Lawndale community, about three miles west from the Jewish People's Institute (J.P.I.). By 1931, the team's players included Gertrude Edelcup, Dot Boyce, Mildred Christensen, Rose Olbur, Henrietta Schoenfield, Fannie Schoenfeld, and top players Anne Goldstein and Captain Rae Levine.
While at the Jewish People's Institute, Goldstein and her basketball teammates participated in volleyball (beginning in 1928) and in softball (in 1930), leading the J.P.I. to five A.A.F. volleyball championships from 1928 to 1933, and to the Chicago American city softball championship in 1931.
Anne Goldstein finished her secondary school education at Marshall High, which served the North Lawndale community, in January 1932, at a relatively late age of 19. She was a leader at the school, serving as president of the 750 Club, which was a club for girls working towards their athletic letters. She was also a member of the Girls Athletic Association and vice-president of the Civic Industrial Club.
The last women's tournament that the Jewish People's Institute Girls participated in was the Central AAU meet in the spring of 1932, where they were eliminated in the quarterfinals by the May & Malone Girls, who went on to win the championship that year. With the apparent termination of the J.P.I. Girls program, three of their top players--Anne Goldstein, Rose Olbur, and Rae Levine--found a new home with a newly formed team in the fall of 1932, the Spencer Coals. The Spencer Coals was coached by Mark Singer, who with every women's team he coached in the 1930s turned them into champions.
With the Spencer Coals
By the end of December 1932, Spencer Coals had won 18 straight games. In March the team led by Goldstein's play-making edged the Six Points Co-eds for the American tournament title 17-16. By early April, the Spencer Coals had won the City of Chicago and Cook County championships, and had become the top amateur team in Chicago.
The Spencer Coals met their first setback on April 9, 1933, when the Six Point Co-eds beat them 26-22 for the Central States AAU women’s basketball title. Goldstein helped the team avenged the loss less than two weeks later, narrowly defeating the Six Point Co-eds for the Central AAU championship, 42-40. The Spencer Coals ended the season with a 60-2 record, no small part to the work of Goldstein.
The 1933-34 season for the Spencer Coals was as successful as their first season. But it began with a setback. In October 1933, the Spencer Coals met the National AAU champions, Oklahoma Presbyterian College Cardinals, but lost to them 24-18. The game was played at the 132nd Regiment Armory, and was intended to be a part of Chicago's Century of Progress exposition. The team entered two teams in the American Tournament, for the open title and for the girls rule title, Anne Goldstein and her teammates all playing on each. The team easily won the girls rules title, 24 to 10 over Empire Sportsverein, but lost a tight game, 17-19, for the open title to the Rickett's Restaurant Girls.
With Goldstein leading the team the Spencer Coals went on to win the Central AAU championship for the second year in the row, beating the Great Northern Debutantes, 40-20. Besides Goldstein, the Spencer Coals at this time had Lillian Rozhon, Rae Levine, Mary Fandell, and Helen Weise on their roster. Both teams went on to Wichita, Kansas, to compete for the National AAU “Tomboy” championship, a men's rules competition held simultaneously with the National AAU women’s championship under women’s rules. Spencer Coals beat the Shaw-Stevens team of Maplewood, Missouri, 28-19, to win the title.
Later in May, Goldstein went with the Spencer Coals up to Edmonton, Canada, to play for the Underwood Trophy, emblematic of the international women’s basketball championship. They lost the three-games series to the Edmonton Grads in two games, the first 100-39 the second 46-37.
Goldstein led the Spencer Coals to another successful season in 1934-35. The team had their four veterans in Goldstein, Rozhon, Fandell, and Weise, and were augmented by an excellent new player, Ione Murphey. In the American Tournament, the Spencer Coals lost the major girls title to the Andy Frain Usherettes, which was also for the Central AAU title.
The Spencer Coals disappeared as a team at the end of the 1934-35 season. Mark Singer left and took Goldstein and the entire team with him to play as the T. J. Bowlers to become a new team sponsored by a Democratic political leader, Thomas J. Bowler, replacing an unsuccessful women's team called the T. J. Bowler Boosters.
Meanwhile, Anne Goldstein continued her heavy involvement in softball after leaving the Institute, playing in local leagues. There she met Hy Gomberg, who was a coach and official in local softball organizations. She married Gomberg on June 22, 1934, but thereafter only occasionally went by the name of Gomberg. In July of 1935, Goldstein along with Mary Fandell and another notable basketball player, Marguerite Eastham, joined to the Kilmer Trees to play softball in the Chicago Major Girls Softball League.
With the T. J. Bowlers
In the 1935-36 season, Goldstein was playing under the name of Anne Goldstein Gomberg for the T. J. Bowlers, she joined a formidable team with Lillian and Mabel Rozhon, Julia Stluka, Marge Quilter, Cassie Martin, Rae Levine, Betty Reidl, Ione Murphey, Dorothy Dennison, and Hazel Kelfstrom. In April of 1936, ten players of the T. J. Bowlers team, including Goldstein, were banned by the Central AAU, on the grounds that Coach Mark Singer used ineligible players, notably Goldstein, who was working as physical education director (and therefore deemed a professional).
The T. J. Bowlers had their eligibility restored for the 1936-37 season, and Goldstein was valuable to the team in its competition in the Windy City League, a league of industrial and club teams—amateur and probably semi-pro—where the women’s amateur games would open the men’s semi-pro games. The team did well during the season, and when they were eliminated in the semi-finals by the Queen Anne Aces in the American Tournament, 19-17, it was considered an upset. The team was essentially the Spencer Coals of a couple of years earlier, with such former Coals besides Goldstein, that included Cassie Martin, Lillian Rozhon, Ione Murphey, and Rae Levine.
With the Bill Rand Girls
In the 1937-38 season, Goldstein found a new home with a powerful new team, the Bill Rand Girls, built with some of the top female talent in Chicago, which besides Goldstein included Marion and Mercedes DeSutter, Lorraine "Babe" Sisk, Ruby Ryba, and Natalie Young. The team played in the women’s division of the Windy City League, the most prominent amateur basketball circuit in Chicago in the 1930s.
Goldstein in the 1938-39 season helped the Rands achieve a championship season. Despite being perhaps the oldest player on the team and having diminished skills, she played an active role in the Windy City League competition and in the annual American Tournament, and helped the team take second to the Queen Anne Aces for the women's free-lance title, 18-14. The Rand Girls proved to have greater mettle in the Windy City League, winning the championship by defeating the Taylor Trunks in the title game as part of the Central AAU tournament that year, 25-23. Indicative of Goldstein lessened contribution to the team was a January game played against the Taylor Trunks, where the Bill Rand Girls won 35-22. Despite the great amount of scoring, Goldstein contributed no buckets and committed four penalties.
The 1938-39 season was the last for Anne Goldstein, who throughout the 1930s decade proved to be one of the finest women basketball players the city ever produced. During this time Goldstein served as the star pitcher of the Down Drafts softball team, which Anne's husband, Hy Gomberg, coached.
The last mention of Goldstein and her athletic achievements was related to softball. The Chicago Tribune in May of 1945 reported that she had just signed with Charley Bidwell's Bluebirds softball team, and described her as "one of the greatest girl athletes ever developed in Chicago." Anne Goldstein left a great athletic legacy, but unfortunately it is utterly forgotten. But not long after the newspaper story Hy Gomberg and his wife moved to California, where he built a career as a baseball scout.
Anne Goldstein Gomberg died on March 14, 1983, while living in retirement in Seal Beach, California. Hy Gomberg died on July 3, 1998, but ten years earlier he was interviewed for a newspaper story and he said of his wife, "She could make Babe Didrikson look foolish on the basketball court."