2016-08-03 / Local News

Glassboro’s Russ Cohen is the source for all-things sports

MEET RUSS COHEN…
By BARBARA S. ROTHSCHILD For the Voice

HOMETOWN: North Massapequa, NY

RESIDENCE: Glassboro

FAMILY: Wife Amy, three dogs, one cat, parents Daniel and Helene, one brother

AGE: 52

FAVORITE SPORTS TEAM: Mets

Favorite sports movie: “The Natural”

FAVORITE SPORTS VENUE: Madison Square Garden

Russ Cohen has been to every Mets home opener since 1988. He’s got a Mets tattoo on his right shoulder. But the Long Island native, who’s lived in Glassboro for the past 20 years, is also an expert on the Philadelphia Flyers (there are hockey sticks tattooed on his left shoulder). The author or co-author of seven books is a source for everything sports, all originating from his South Jersey home.

Cohen’s enthusiasm for sports didn’t follow the typical route. Growing up in an athletic family, he was born without a hip joint and didn’t walk until he was five years old. In a full body brace for a time, he eventually underwent successful orthopedic surgery.

“I couldn’t participate in gym until the second grade. My parents (a printer and an administrative assistant) let me join Little League, and I had to learn how to run,” he said. “Baseball and hockey are reflex sports needing good hand-eye coordination, which I had. My greatest joy was to play you and to beat you.” He excelled in street hockey, roller hockey and basketball, including a stint at a Lutheran-run basketball camp. “We had a hoop in the yard and I’d play 24/7.”

Growing up, Cohen would often bike from synagogue to the baseball field. He had a sports-themed bar mitzvah, complete with a Ping Pong tournament. He still plays softball, usually on a team organized at his wife’s workplace.

Cohen, 52, turned avocation into vocation in a roundabout way. After earning an associate’s degree in hotel and restaurant management at Nassau Community College and attending the University of Houston, he entered the hotel business and moved to Virginia, then Atlantic City. From there, he got a job at a South Philadelphia hotel next to what was then Veterans Stadium.

“It was 1993,and a lot of Phillies lived in that hotel,” he recalled. “I’d have breakfast with (manager) Jim Fregosi and got to know the players.” In 2000, he began his website, sportsology.com, with Doug Cataldo, whom he’d met in Atlantic City. The site took off, and since then Cohen has added podcasting, debuting an Audioboom channel, and can be heard on Stitcher Radio, where he has a hockey show, “Off the Post,” and “The Game,” about baseball.

He does a show focused on the late June NHL draft, held in Buffalo this year, and is a contributor to Hockey Prospect Radio. “I’ve been at every NHL draft since 2001, except for 2005, the lockout year,” he noted. Daily video shows during that event include Hockey Buzz, found on such social media outlets as YouTube and Google Hangouts.

Cohen’s books range from coffee table volumes to photojournals. His latest, “The Philadelphia Flyers,” was released earlier this year. Other hockey books include two on the Rangers; baseball books include one on the Mets. An eighth book, tracing baseball players from the 1880s to the early 1900s, has the working title “Pioneers of Baseball.”

He is enthusiastic about the Flyers, saying the team is on the upswing, with young talent and a good pool of players. He thinks General Manager Ron Hextall is doing great. “Of the Philly teams, they have the best chance of doing it all. They’ve done it the right way— you have to build from the draft.”

He credits recently deceased Flyers founder-owner Ed Snider and his Jewish values with paving the way to a bright future for the team. “They got the passion and their family atmosphere from him. Most of the time he made the right moves. He treated his players magnificently,” said Cohen, who found Snider very accessible to fans and reporters.

He writes hockey card bios and likes to find Jewish players, noting there could be some future hockey up-andcomers. “David Levin, embarking on his second season with the Sudbury Wolves (Ontario Hockey League), was born in Tel Aviv. It doesn’t get any more Jewish than that,” he noted.

“The Philadelphia Flyers” by Russ Cohen, Mike del Tufo and Joe del Tufo ($21.99, Arcadia Publishing, 2016) is available at area bookstores, independent retailers and online retailers, or through Arcadia Publishing and The History Press at (888) 313- 2665 or online at www.arcadiapublishing.com

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