giving credit for my “brilliant” acts

Almost thirty years ago at BASS Tickets we started a campaign with the various police agencies to remove guns from the streets (yes, 30 years ago). Working with various teams, theaters, arts, etc in the Bay Area, we had tickets donated and we set up exchanges (“guns for tickets”) in Oakland, Richmond, San Francisco, San Jose) and had over 1000 weapons exchanged for tickets to the Giants, A’s, Warriors, Shorenstein theaters, SF Ballet, etc. Much plaudits all around.

OK, I stole the idea from Barry Finkenberg of Ticketmaster, New Mexico, who did it first.

And here is how the blood drives came about: I am friends with a number of people in Houston who have nothing to do with Roller Derby, whom I have never met, and a number of them are to the right of Genghis Khan, but we still are friends on Facebook. Well one, Scott Bland, who left Houston (and is much more to “my” side) visited the Bay Area, and asked me to get in contact with his friend Tom Petty (no, not that one) who runs a great SEO company in Livermore CA and is an official in the Red Cross. (I am proud to say I served on the Bay Area Board of the American Red Cross for two years…it is such an amazing organization>). He thought if somehow we could get Roller Derby Leagues involved it would be outstanding. (And of course Brown Paper Tickets will work with anyone for community, never a consideration of revenue or profit), and that is how the whole blood drive thing started.

And luckily, we became associated with Hanna Malak, a young executive with the Red Cross, who just made it happen from his end, and of course with Steve Butcher, Jocelyn Ceder, Barb Morgen, and Stephanie and Amanda from Brown Paper Tickets involved, it has turned into one of the most successful sources for donors for the Red Cross in Northern California (saving 3 lives for each pint donated!). And now it has spread to New England, where Suzanne of the Red Cross has carried it to 7 leagues. (to see the drive closest to you, go to, keyword “Derby” to keep up to date with the leagues who are involved). And actually Roller Derby Santa Cruz had pioneered the drives in Northern California the year before, and their template is so great that we send it to the other leagues to follow.

The point here, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel… much out there is relevant to what you want to do…..steal nicely.

I did.

What if Leo came to Rollercon?

Jerry Seltzer:

this is from 4 years ago, and I just updated…..I really wonder about this all the time.

Originally posted on

Leo Seltzer

I have to admit I think about it.

Way back in the summer of ’35 he had the crazy idea of putting a marathon on roller skates.  A team was one man and one woman; the winning team that skated several thousand miles won I believe $500.  At that time it was the depth of the depression, and many applicants, skaters and non, showed up as they knew that for at least 30 days they would get food, a bed to sleep, and a chance to make some money.  It was a tremendous success, and just two years later my father and famed sportswriter and author Damon Runyon (“Guys and Dolls”) created the game that has lasted for almost 80 years (80 to be exact on August 13).

Roller Derby shut down in 1973.  In the mid seventies Leo was planning a trip to Montreal to train skaters…

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Rollercon 2015: banked track, 3 birthdays, ending Roller Derby Wars

I have really been remiss in posting here….but so much going on.

Going to my seventh Rollercon, certainly a highlight of the year. It is no secret I loved banked track Derby; after all my family started it, I grew up with it and it was the game when we became a national favorite, sneaking up on established sports with over 15 million watching on television weekly, and over 3,000,000 attending games yearly.

All Leo Seltzer wanted was his game to survive, become a nationally played sport, and be in the Olympics. When he died in 1978 he no longer even talked about it. His creation had disappeared.

And then you all came around…..starting from one league in Texas (that word is kind of misused; they actually had, and still do, 4 teams in TXRD), and transferred to flat track by one very creative league (Texas Rollergirls) till today when there are 1853 listed leagues in the world. (check out the amazing website by Sam Santos,

So that brings us to Rollercon, which has to be the mecca for everyone in the game to journey at least once…..over 5000 from virtually everywhere will cram the Westgate in Las Vegas July 22 till 26, all created by Ivanna S. Pankin and friends. (get down on your knees and give thanks). And check out the master schedule at for whatever you want to do.

9 tracks this year for training and games and one banked track! And the most amazing games ever are scheduled…..most are created for the event, and you might learn a lot from that fact alone. Skaters regardless of rule set, age, or geography playing for fun. Have you lost the fun in the game? Is it less fun for spectators to pay and watch? That may be one of the most important considerations for your team, league, whatever.

Bob Noxious and I will go there in our marketing seminar Friday at 1:30 at Rollercon….not just advertising, promotion, ticketing, but making your games events…..and fun!

And there really are more than three birthdays, but the especially noticeable ones are Rollercon and WFTDA’s 10th year, and the 80th birthday of the game itself. We will celebrate it at the Brown Paper Ticket booth on Thursday the 23rd at 3:30 with cake and juice, and stars of the past: Judy Arnold, Frank Macedo, and Hiroshi Koizumi on hand, and some stars of today: the immortal Merby Dick Roche, who at 75 is in his fifth year with his team (league?). There will be some surprises on hand also.

The game is thriving, but in reality the world doesn’t know or fully accept it. Instead of fighting amongst the rule sets, why not all join in figuring a way to really broaden the base to the general public and make certain that what you are presenting can be appealing to a non-derby affiliated audience. Unfortunately, when you are charging admission, you are competing with other forms of entertainment, and to survive you have to keep the fans you have and grow the attendees. as I said, Bob and I will address that as part of the larger picture.

This is more than a game to the majority of you; you are not paid, you sacrifice your time and money. But the huge reward is a world that most do not know or understand, a kinship that extends far beyond the game, team or league. Somehow you must let the world see that.

And please come by the booth and give The Commissioner a hug. It is what keeps me going and coming back.