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Remembering Harry Pritikin:

"The February 11, 2000 edition of the
Chicago Tribune had the following obituary: Harry Pritikin saw plenty of his former high school players and students. Whether it was to reminisce over a championship season or catch up with the coach who had changed their lives, dozens of Bowen High School alumni kept in touch. 'He was a father figure,' said Dolph Grundman, 58, who played football and basketball for Mr. Pritikin from 1954 to 1958. 'He was a supportive and kind person who wanted to make sure that young people were successful.'

Mr. Pritikin, 85, a renowned figure in Chicago high school sports, died of cancer Tuesday, Feb. 8, at his home in Destin, Fla. "He was one of the great coaches of the times," said Jerome Holtzman, a former
Chicago Tribune baseball writer and now the official historian of baseball. 'He had a lot of fire and he demanded a lot from his players. He was a disciplinarian.'

His accomplishments in 32 years as a baseball, football and basketball coach at Bowen High included the state baseball championship in 1954, the Public League baseball title in 1971 and six league championship game appearances. Mr. Pritikin was inducted into the Illinois High School Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame and the Illinois Central Officials Association Hall of Fame for football and basketball. He also worked as a scout for major league baseball teams.

He is perhaps best remembered for the interest he took in his players' education. As a standout basketball player, Grundman remembered feeling a bit cocky after a particularly good game. 'Coach told me that all the newspapers clippings on my games couldn't buy me a cup of coffee,' Grundman said. 'Back then, he was attempting to put sports in perspective, and I have remembered that for all of my life.'

Mr. Pritikin retired from Bowen in 1978 and recently moved to Florida to be closer to his family. 'He was as much a mentor to us as he was to his players,' said his daughter Gail. 'He would expect you to do your best and he would help you do it. And he had a terrific sense of humor.'
Survivors include another daughter, Carol Pritikin-Ogilvie; and a son, Jim Kauffman."

Although I never played a sport at Bowen, but attended many games, Coach Pritikin and I became good friends. When I started my college career at the University of Illinois Chicago Undergraduate Division (Navy Pier), I had an 8:00 AM PE class. The CTA ride to the Pier from Jeffrey Manor took about 90 minutes and not being a morning person, I was having trouble making it there on time. My Instructor was Les Miller, who also was inducted into the Illinois High School Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame. Les, who died earlier this year, coached baseball at UIC for 30 years and their field is named after him. Les needed a Student Manager for the 1957 baseball season and when he found out that I had gone to Bowen, he asked if I knew Coach Pritikin. I said I did, and he said if I would be the team's Student Manager, I didn't have to attend the PE class and he would give me an "A" for the course. In addition, he told me that he lived in Merrionette Manor so he could give me a ride home after practice and after games. Well, this was an offer I couldn't refuse. What I didn't realize was that practice usually ran until 6:00 PM and I would not get home until nearly 7:00. Also, it was a cold and wet Spring. Many of our early season games were postponed and had to be made-up in May. Since I also had a part-time weekend job, this was not good for my grades that Semester.

I also remember the 1954 State Baseball Championship season. We played Taft at Wrigley Field for the right to participate in the State Tournament in Peoria. Our Principal, Mr. Willam P. Hearn let students out of class to attend the game and even provided chartered CTA buses. Someone on the Bowen team hit an inside the park home run to win the game. Several weeks later, we played Taft again, this time at Comiskey Park, for the Public League Championship. Stars of that team were John "Bevo" Bozich and Jim Chengary. We lost that game, but once again many bus loads of Bowen students were there to cheer on the team.

Hal Dvorin
Palatine, IL