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Sam Balter

Biographical information

Medals OG
Gold 1
Silver 0
Bronze 0
Total 1
TypeCompeted in Olympic Games
Full nameSamuel J. "Sam"•Balter, Jr.
Used nameSam•Balter
Born15 October 1909 in Detroit, Michigan (USA)
Died8 August 1998 in Los Angeles, California (USA)
Measurements178 cm / 68 kg
AffiliationsUniversal Pictures, Los Angeles (USA)
NOC(s) United States


Signed by the Chicago White Sox out of high school, Sam Balter instead attended UCLA in the late 20s where he was a star of the basketball team and its captain in 1929. As pro basketball was virtually nonexistent in the depression days, he continued playing as an amateur with a team sponsored by Universal Pictures. When basketball made its first Olympic appearance in 1936 he helped the United States win its first gold medal in this sport and retains the dubious distinction of being our shortest (5-9¼ (1.76) basketball Olympian ever. Balter later went on to a short career as a teacher and basketball coach. However he became quite famous as a sportscaster and radio announcer in the Southern California area, so much so that in 1945 Variety voted him the top news commentator in the U.S. He was the first person to do coast-to-coast radio sports commentary and also the first person to cover a college football game for television. In 1970 he was voted into the Helms Basketball Hall of Fame.


Games Discipline (Sport) Event Status Team Pos Details
1936 Summer Olympics Basketball (Basketball) Basketball, Men Olympic United States 1 Gold Representing United States