Roy Levy – cricket and baseball legend

From Australia’s Jewish Past:

Roy Levy

cricket and baseball legend

First published in J-Wire March 8, 2022

Roy Levy was born in 1906 in Sydney. His sporting interests were cricket and baseball.

Roy’s sporting career took off between 1924 and 1928 when he played cricket and baseball for the Waverley Club in Sydney. In cricket, he was a left-handed batsman, and in baseball, he was a right-handed medium-pace bowler. Roy assisted the Waverley Club to dominate the Sydney Baseball Premiership, and the club won the competition annually from 1924 to 1928. He also represented NSW in baseball during this time. He was the first player to be offered a scholarship to play and study in the US through his baseball success. He declined this offer to continue his studies with his insurance career.

In 1928, Roy’s insurance company moved him to Brisbane, where his first-class cricket career began and he still managed to be involved in baseball. Between 1929 and 1936, he played twenty-five matches for the Queensland Sheffield Shield side and captained the team eleven times. He was seriously considered for Australian selection but was refused to travel interstate with the Queensland team by his employer. This, unfortunately, prevented him from being part of the 1939 Claxton Shield – the first Queensland had participated in.

In 1932 the President of Queensland Cricket called a meeting at the YWCA Hall in Brisbane for men interested in playing baseball. This meeting produced great interest amongst cricketers as it was a team game that could be played in the winter off-season. Roy was instrumental in the resurgence of baseball both at this time and after World War II. He was president of the organisation from 1936 to 1938 and was a player-coach of the state team from 1933 to 1938 and 1954.

After retiring from professional cricket, Roy went on to coach Queensland in interstate baseball games and a friendly series against the Tokyo Giants in 1954.

He passed away in 1965 and is buried in Brisbane’s Toowong Cemetery. He has been called the “first notable Jewish Cricketer” in Australia.

Note: It is interesting to learn that there doesn’t appear to be any Jew who played Test cricket for England, unless a surprising addition is of Fred Trueman, one of England’s greatest-ever bowlers. They discovered his maternal grandmother had been Jewish. Therefore, according to Jewish Law, he was technically Jewish and was happy to be so.

From Australia's Jewish Past is written by Ruth Lilian OAM for AJHS and published weekly in J-Wire. ​