The Funny days of Roller Derby

Jerry Seltzer:

It was so much fun running Roller Derby in the 60s and 70s (most of the time) and I was just as much off the wall then as now. And with Frank Deford’s wonderful “Five Strides” coming out Tuesday as ebook and Kindle, this is a good time to read this.

Originally posted on

It was fun being the head of Roller Derby (“It is good to be the King”).

Since I was young to start with (26) and never grew old in the job (that is definitely part of the problem) and few took us seriously, we kind of got away with a lot.

In a previous blog I told you about the fun that my official pundit Herb Michelson and I had with the press, but we carried it over to our everyday life.  When we became successful, we moved our offices to Kaiser Center, a beautiful curved building alongside Lake Merritt in Oakland that was the world wide headquarters for Kaiser industries.  We were one of the few non-Kaiser companies there.  I think they kept us around for laughs, although they really couldn’t figure us out.  The manager of the center was a very nice man, but it was a typical…

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Leo the promoter

Jerry Seltzer:

so he would be 111 on April 5th….he really invented modern sports promotion……..didn’t always see eye to eye, but he was brilliant.

Originally posted on

My father hated to be called a promoter…he felt that was someone who used other people’s money, and he always used his own.

But although sports history credits him with being the inventor of Roller Derby, he did a lot more projects, some successful, many not (but that is a promoter for you).

The first one he always talked about was his plans for making money off the end of prohibition.  In 1932 when it became apparent that FDR (best known initials before J-Lo) was going to repeal the act, he bought a large amount of Philippine rum and was having it shipped to a port in Mexico so that when it was legal it could be sold in the US.  He had put aside $25,000 from the Walkathons (a fortune in those days) which he had given to my mother, as they planned to buy a farm outside of…

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Clatsop County Roller Derby? are you kidding me?

(1) Tara Hopman Dyrset.

Pictured in the link above is Shanghaied Roller Dolls, out of Astoria, Oregon……see if you can pick out my friend, Tara Hopman Dyrset…..of course you can, immediately.

So much of my family history is in Clatsop County. Every summer for as long as I can remember we were in Seaside and eventually had a home there. Seaside is on the Pacific Ocean, just 16 miles from Astoria, which sits at the mouth of the Columbia river on the ocean. I fished in the Columbia and actually caught a 38-pound Chinook….not sure you can still catch any in the River.

Tara’s day job is at the Columbia Hospital, an excellent medical facility serving the county……Her fun job is Roller Derby.

She does the merch and tickets for Shanghaied Roller Derby….I can only assume the name comes from the former great seaport of Astoria and those unfortunate enough to have been slipped a mickey and awaken on a sailing festival far out to sea.

Astoria is named for the prominent pillager of animal skins and other travesties, John Jacob Astor…..the Astor tower sits far above the small city and you probably saw it in Arnold’s Kindergarten Cop which was filmed in Astoria, and Tara sent me a great photo of her team around the statue in front.

This is a league for fun; they got rid of the drama last year and have made it easy to come and skate and learn and enjoy…..great participants in the local communities and parades and gatherings and functions….just what you would want to be when you think of Roller Derby.

And a number of women are from Seaside, near Seltzer Park.

Last Saturday they had a game at the Fairgrounds in Astoria; ironically where we had scheduled Willie Nelson for a benefit to raise money for Seltzer Park….Obviously we succeeded with other fund raising and benefit concerts by Willie again in Seaside and one by the Smothers Brothers.

And their game last weekend sold out, drawing 500 people to the building and it was fast and hard hitting and everyone had a great time….who won? I don’t know and don’t care.

By the way, they sold out their advance tickets through Brown Paper Tickets.