Irv Torgoff Inducted in 1998

Player Inducted in 1998
Irv Torgoff Irv Torgoff, Inducted into the NYC Hall of Fame in 1998
Photo credit: (NYCBOF, 1998)
Irving Torgoff (March 6, 1917 – October 21, 1993) not only was two-time LIU All-American Irv Torgoff the first quality "sixth-man" in the history of pro basketball he might have been one of the first legitimate "swingmen". Big and agile enough at 6-3 to play guard or forward "Torgy" as he was affectionately known. New York hoop circles became one of the more notable players of the metropolitan area just as college basketball was beginning to explode in popularity and Madison Square Garden was becoming the mecca. The word was "Torgy "could do it all!

The Brooklyn-born Torgoff honed his skills at Samuel J. Tilden HS and was an All-Scholastic performer and his team's top point producer. Under the guidance of the great Claire Bee, he starred at LIU from 1936 to 1939 and in his junior year became the top scorer in the city. He was selected All-Met First Team by the Metropolitan Basketball Writer's Association. In his senior season, he captained the celebrated 26-0 Blackbird squad that squashed unbeaten Loyola of Chicago 44-32 in the finals of the second-ever National Invitation Tournament (NIT) in the Garden. Torgoff was the only double-figure scorer (12) in the game! Irv was voted Outstanding Player for the Met Area by the MBWA as well as a consensus NCAA-All-American berth and the elite Chuck Taylor All-America Ist-team. He was also a member of the first college basketball team to play outside the USA when LIU participated in the 1939 and 1940 Puerto Rican Invitation Tournaments. The Blackbirds copped both events.

Following college Eddie Gottlieb recruited Torgoff for the Philadelphia Sphas of the American League. In a bidding war, he became a member of the Detroit Eagles of the National League. In the real war, he played for Grumman Aircraft prior to serving a stint in the Air Force. In 1946 Torgoff joined the Washington Capitols of the newly formed Basketball Association of America under coach Arnold "Red" Auerbach. Irv's rare combination of basketball skill and selflessness prompted Auerbach to turn him into the first of his legendary "sixth man" stars who would become so vital to the later success of the Boston Celtics.

He soon retired from pro basketball to begin a career in the garment industry and left behind a reputation as one of the true soft-spoken gentlemen of the hardwood as well as one of the stalwart players of the era. Torgoff became one of twelve players selected to Madison Square Garden's College Basketball 50th Anniversary All-Decade team from 1934 to 1943. But perhaps Red Auerbach summed it up best to the New York Times when he commented upon "Torgy's" passing in October of 1993: "He was the kind of player who could come off the bench and be as good as any of the starters. He could turn a whole game around. He was one of the great players".