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Rudy Riska, the Heisman Trophy’s Guiding Light, Dies at 85

Rudy Riska, who first glimpsed the Heisman Trophy on its pedestal on the Downtown Athletic Membership in Decrease Manhattan when he was a boy, and who years later grew to become the invaluable information, counselor and mentor for the younger males who received it, died on Sept. 12 in a Brooklyn hospital. He was 85.

His daughter Elizabeth Briody stated the causes had been dementia and pneumonia.

For greater than 40 years Mr. Riska ran the group on the membership that awarded the Heisman to the yr’s excellent faculty soccer participant. He oversaw the itinerary of the winners and inspired them to suppose significantly about what they’d say of their acceptance speeches. He purchased tickets to Broadway reveals for his or her households, made reservations at high eating places and arranged the annual Heisman dinner in Manhattan, which drew as many as 2,000 visitors.

He developed that job because the athletic director of the Downtown Athletic Membership, the trophy’s longtime dwelling, after noticing that nobody was supervising the winners after they had been in Manhattan for the award ceremonies.

“They had been simply faculty children plucked from their campuses and immediately flown to New York,” he told The New York Times in 2010. “They had been typically unsophisticated children. Most had by no means performed on nationwide tv. Many had by no means been on an airplane till they flew to New York. Their heads had been spinning.”

“I bought there and Rudy put his arm round me and the remaining was like a magic carpet experience,” Eddie George, the Ohio State running back who received the Heisman in 1995, instructed The Instances. “And that was what Rudy wished. He wished each winner to recollect his weekend endlessly.”

The self-effacing Mr. Riska labored totally behind the scenes; followers watching the televised annual ceremony would most probably not have identified his title or face. However the winners understood his significance.

“I notice how a lot energy he had, however he by no means put it on show,” Desmond Howard, the 1991 Heisman winner, stated by cellphone. “When everybody defers to you, you will need to have energy, however he carried himself as somebody who served you and took care of all of your wants.”

Rudolph James Riska was born on Aug. 22, 1936, in Manhattan to Rudolph and Elizabeth (Marecek) Riska. His mom cleaned places of work. His household lived for some time close to the Downtown Athletic Membership, within the monetary district, and when he was 11 his father took him to see the Heisman.

“I stared on the names engraved on the trophy,” he instructed The Instances. “How fortunate can a man be to finish up in a job the place these names come to life and so they grow to be your folks?”

His athletic focus as a youth was baseball, not soccer. A no-hitter he threw for Metropolitan Excessive College attracted the curiosity of the Yankees, who signed him to a contract. He performed on low-level minor league groups within the Yankee system from 1955 to 1958 and the Baltimore Orioles’ system in 1959. On the Aberdeen, S.D., affiliate of the Orioles, his supervisor was Earl Weaver, the Orioles’ future Corridor of Famer. Mr. Riska compiled a 36-33 report, however persistent bursitis ended his profession.

He went to work as a salesman for the Rawlings sporting items firm however inside two years had accepted a job with the Downtown Athletic Membership. He was quickly named to the publish of athletic director, the place that John Heisman, the trophy’s namesake, held there till his demise in 1936.

As athletic director, Mr. Riska developed health and sports activities packages for membership members and created occasions that honored famend athletes. But it surely was as the manager director of the Heisman Trophy Belief and the Heisman Basis that he was largely identified.

“What I believe I’ve been in a position to do,” he told The Bay Ridge Paper in Brooklyn in 2003, “is information and shield the Heisman from individuals who may attempt to earn money the fallacious manner on it. I prefer to view myself because the conscience of the Heisman.”

He retired in 2004, three years after the 9/11 assaults and their aftermath led the membership to shut completely. The trophy, which is awarded by a vote of members of the sports activities media and previous winners, was moved to numerous places and is now held on the Heisman Belief’s workplace in Manhattan.

Along with his daughter Elizabeth, Mr. Riska is survived by his spouse, Josephine (Karpoich) Riska, referred to as Lorraine; one other daughter, Barbara Piersiak; and 4 grandchildren.

For a time, 15 or 20 of the previous Heisman winners who traveled to New York Metropolis for the annual anointing of the most recent winner took break day in the course of the weekend to commemorate their achievements on the Blarney Stone bar close to the membership.

“Individuals might need been in search of them, however I’d allow them to go off by themselves for a few hours,” Mr. Riska instructed The Instances. “They might let their hair down with their wives, rubbing shoulders with these blue-collar building staff. It was a group of a number of the greatest faculty soccer gamers ever. However they simply wished to hang around with an everyday crowd.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/23/sports activities/soccer/rudy-riska-dead.html | Rudy Riska, the Heisman Trophy’s Guiding Mild, Dies at 85

Huynh Nguyen

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