Meet Jerry Seltzer

I wish my father Leo had told his story as he was one of America’s great promoters, although he hated the term. I have followed in his footsteps since 1958, going from Roller Derby promoter (SF Bay Bombers) to television syndicator, to BASS tickets and Ticketmaster and now Brown Paper Tickets.]. I have three grown children and three granddaughters and am a dyed in the wool Californian. I always try to be optimistic and I have so many stories to tell.

53 comments on “Meet Jerry Seltzer

  1. Hey Jerry,
    What an honor it is to even email you!
    Thank you so much for posting all these amazing insightful stories of the past.
    So much speculation has been made about the demise of the Roller Derby in 1973. I’ve heard many peoples opinions but not sure if I’ve hard yours.
    Mostly I’d love to hear a great story about the Great Charlie O’Connell and what he meant to the sport and to you.
    Thank you again.

  2. Hi, Jerry! My husband is related to Sid Cohen (Sid is his great-uncle) and the family would love to know more about Sid’s life. Do you have any more stories you can share about Sid? His personality? Lifestyle? Thanks for any more stories you can share.

    All the best,


  3. It was my understanding from my father that he met Sid in the early 30’s when Sid was working for Cooney and was sent to the Coliseum with the intention of putting a bomb in the rest room (he apparently had it hidden under a tall hat!). He met my father, liked him, and went to work for him. He was a wonderful kind gentle giant and I knew him for many years. He was my father’s chief lieutenant and after he left the Roller Derby he went to work for the Ice Follies and had a great reputation in the entertainment industry. He and his wife Helen were my father’s closest friends. They would take trips together. I wish I had some photos.

  4. Jerry,
    I just saw a photo you had taken with a friend Pushy Willow while at RollerCon this summer. It brought back memories as I also have a photo with you from about 25+ years ago. I skated for the local RCA league in Westchester, NY back in the day.

    I recently noticed a youtube video you were in about starting a derby league done for expert village. Who would I call to get specifics on the photos used in this video? I am trying ti see if I can gain usage rights from the derby girl with the yellow background for a product launch.

    All the best.

  5. Jerry, Just wanted to take the opportunity to say “Thanks” for writing in on the article “Game Changer”…what a thrill that was to see you chime in on the comments section. So glad to see you’re keeping abreast of your dad’s legacy…and now yours too!
    Fever has caught on in KY too…our league started last year, and we just finished our first season in Bowling Green KY. All best!

  6. Jerry,

    It’s great not only to see you blogging, but that you still have the youthful appearance of a 30-year old!

    A friend was just telling me about a book he is reading on the Angels. I told him of my positive experiences with Deakon and Fu when I worked for you. Googled to see if they were still doing concerts and found your wonderful blog.

    Hope you are well.


  7. Hello Jerry,

    Glad I found your website and the link to the new “Bomber” team. I grew up watching the San Francisco Bay Bombers, in the 60’s/early 70’s on KTVU. I just got a quick question. What ever happened to Charlie O’Connell? Thanks.

  8. Dear Jerry Seltzer,

    A journalist named Katherine ( in Petaluma is writing an article about the old Gayland Skating rink that used to be in Petaluma. I was wondering if you might have photos of that Gayland skating rink? My grandma Joan Lujan (Spolini) used to skate there when it was still open. She told me stories of the wooden rink.


    Ms. Kitty MaulHER
    Director of Media, Publicity and Promotions
    Resurrection Roller Girls

  9. Hi Jerry!

    Just found your blogspot and am enjoying reading your past blogs. Growing up in the Bay Area in the late 60s/early 70s, I watched Roller Derby every week (and, yeah, even watched Roller Games).

    Thank you for promoting a product that I enjoyed so much. Hope this finds you well!

    All the best,

  10. Dear Mr. Seltzer:

    Eddie Krebs may have contacted you recently about a project we’re stepping into about Derby – Just wanted to say I will be avidly following your blog and hoping to perhaps hear more of your comments and perspective in the near future! What a wonderful adventure this is proving to be! Best to you in the meantime. We’ll be at a “Derby” gathering Friday and at Kezar on Saturday for fun and adventures a’la the banked track! YOU are in both our minds with fond memories on Eddie’s part, and respect/admiration on mine. Hope YOU will autograph my manuscript?

  11. Hi Jerry,

    I’m doing research on a 1968 movie called ‘Petulia’ which had a roller derby match in it between the San Francisco Bay Bombers and the New York Chiefs that showed a closeup of Eddie Krebs. I am trying to find out which auditorium the scene was filmed in and Eddie for sure would know that. I had guessed it was at Kezar Pavilion but I’m now pretty well convinced it was somewhere else. Can you give me a contact number or email so I can check with him? Or perhaps you could forward this email on to him and he could contact me. Or, perhaps you or one of your readers can tell me. My email address is

    • it was filmed at Winterland Arena., home of the Ice follies and eventually Bill Graham Presents in the 70’s……I was there.

      Gerald E. Seltzer

      • Jerry, would I be right in saying the team competing against the Bombers in the movie was the New York Chiefs? (They also competed last Saturday at Kezar and the uniforms looked the same).

  12. I gave Eddie a call – that was with George C. Scott and Julie Christie, and the match was shot at Winterland. “With sport jacket over jersey, Eddie walked down the street and met with the promoters/movie folks for several hours – tucked away in the back of a nearby restuarant, they talked for hours, and nobody even knew they were there… A fun story.

    What’s your project about?

    • I’m sure you’re right about that, of course. And since my only heretofore reference point has been memories of my Grandmother in about 1964, yelling at the TV Screen, “that Goddamned Eddie Krebs!”…..(really!) I will definitely defer to that. Still, I am enjoying them! Amazing, exciting fun to watch, fun to yell…. the entire experience (minus some of that “scripting”) is a satisfying thrill I would have disdainfully laughed at until I experienced it for myself. Absolutely no mystery anymore about why or how this caught on. Derby rocks.

  13. Thanks guys – I appreciate the fast feedback! I just had a long chat with Eddie about the Winterland movie shoot. It’s clear he enjoyed the whole experience, a full day’s shoot, and especially hanging out with George C. Scott afterwards.
    Re the project, I have a blog,, which lists Then and Now photos of locations filmed in classic San Francisco movies. One of the movies I’m currently doing is Petulia and now thanks to you I can add the roller derby location. Check it out!

  14. Hello Jerry,
    I’m inspired by your work! I’m writing an article on the history of Roller Derby and would really like to have a quick chat with you regarding your involvement.
    Please email me on and I’ll explain a bit more about the article. I just need about 10 minutes of your time so it would be really great if you could help me.
    Many Thanks,

  15. Hello Jerry,

    I’m an architecture student and I’m looking into doing my research thesis on Roller Derby. I stumbled upon this site through your Roller Derby facebook page. I would love to have more information on the subject. My email address is

    Thanks in advance for any information you can provide! 🙂


  16. Hi Jerry,
    I’m actually preparing a clip for Deutsche Welle TV, Germanys international broadcaster, about Roller Derby. For this I search historic video material from bouts in the 30s to the 90s. Can you help out?

  17. Hi Jerry I’m sorry if ur unintrested in this or if its not something u really are into but I’m trying to find older pics of hells angels members preferable b4 the 70s of course would take newer ones to also I’d like there to b 5 or more members in each pic but again would take any and if they cod b in their leathers that would b even better ofcourse I would pay ALL shipping packaging fees and whatever price u find reasonable I love black and white pics but there’s nothing wrong with colour photos either again I’m sorry if this is something u wouldn’t b intrested in or if u can lead me to someone who does deal with these kind of request I would grately appreciate it have a wonderful day. Crystal West

  18. Hi Jerry, in reference to your mention of a derby show in the UK, there is a community channel show in Australia called Powerjam by a group called ‘Fans of Derby’. You should be able to find more details if you wish, using those search terms.

  19. jerry,
    do you know what happened to christina snell, wife of mike snell in derby? we were friends when christina and i were children. peace from kathy

  20. My employer, Norman Shapiro, has expressed an interest in airing original Roller Derby on MeTV. Do you possess recordings of these, Are you in a position to license them for re-broadcast; or can you direct us to the rights holders. I am not as familiar as he is, but it sounds like an excellent fit.

  21. Hi Jerry, your name and face seem somewhat familiar, but the passage of time sort of clouds things a bit. I too was with the 430th CIC in Salzburg from about February 1954 to May 1955 and traveled much the same route as you. First Fort Ord, then clerk typist school followed by a stint at Fort Benjamin Harrison and then on the USS Geiger to Bremen and by train to Salzburg. As you note, it was a great duty station.

    Do you remember a Major Setzki (?), or a Captain Wall?

    Anyway, hope to hear from you,

    Rolly Throckmorton

    • I arrived in January 1955 and helped close the command in December….yes I remeber both Setzki and Wall…..our corps wasn’t that large and I am sure we knew each other…..

      • Jerry, Greetings. My name is Tim Bishop. I’m a producer/director living in Austin, Texas. Currently we are producing a documentary film on roller skating in the 70s – including culture, music, and so on. One segment is a look at roller derby back then and today. I’d like to discuss this project with you to gauge your interest in possibly being on camera and also to provide some archival TV/video footage.



      • Rainy day is SoCal and I’m looking through the Internet and ran across this site. Did I run into you on a sightseeing ferry/boat on San Francisco Bay in the 1960s or thereabouts? As I recall our days with the 430th CIC, your father invented the Roller Derby, correct? Do you recall the name of the Army Camp where our offices were? Or, the location. I can’t find it on Google Maps. Also, do you recall the address of the villa in Vienna where the CIC workers lived? I visited it when the basketball team played in a tournament there, but can’t remember its location. Anyway, nice to touch base with an old Army friend.

  22. Good evening Mr. Seltzer,
    My mom (Loretta Steele) was part of the beginning of Roller Derby in California as she was a member of a team in Visalia, Ca. in April 1939 (have love letters from my dad to her…dad referred to the team as the gang). They soon married in Aug. of 1939. I also have several letters from Mr. Bert Wall as his wife (Bobbie) and my parents were friends and some involvement with the “Hawaiians” in the early 1960’s. Do you have any records from that 1939 Visalia team?….would be great history for my kids. Also, I have my mom’s skates…..have a recommendation as to a place to donate? One more question….any contact information for Mr. or Mrs. Wall?
    Your assistance is greatly appreciated!
    Martin Hughes

  23. Hey Jerry, You and my daughter, Auntie Social (aka Lauren) have exchanged communications for years. She shared this site with me and I appreciate your writings beyond an interest in derby.
    Here’s an e-vite I send to writer friends and acquaintances:
    I have accumulated many journal entries over the past 47 years. Some pieces remain unused and unexpanded. I thought a collection of these to match each current date with a piece culled from the same date in the past would make an interesting almanac. Stephen Crane referred to his little pieces as pills…they were small, somewhat hard to swallow, but good for you. I hope you’ll check out
    One A Day at
    Thanks, DonNoJuan

  24. Hi Mr. Seltzer my dad and his twin brother skated for Roller Derby in the early 60’s Leo and Cleo Ashford Cleo drowned in Cherry Hill New Jersey at a Hotel that the skaters were staying, and I’m looking for pictures because the family have none of Cleo if you can tell me how I can get those pictures it would be greatly appreciated.
    Carolyn Ashford

  25. so sorry, Carolyn…..I suggest you contact Phil Berrier and Gary Powers at the National Roller Derby Hall of Fame on facebook.

    • Mr. Seltzer:

      Thank you for your comments on Bill Griffiths passing. I was a television announcer for Roller Derby & Bill Griffiths from 1980-1985. I also served as PR director for the Olympic when Bill secured the lease for the building & announced other events for Bill in 1983. I came from the world of “real sports” & though I enjoyed Bill’s vision of Roller Derby, I also felt that Roller Derby could have existed as a real sport & wish that was the case when I broadcast the games for Bill.

      Sincerely, Harry Magidson

      • thanks for your words….would love to speak with you sometime……are you on facebook…….Roller Derby will exist as a real sport, and is well on its way now!

  26. HI Jerry Im one of the old fans of the derby of 1960s and 1970s and watched roller games also even though I hated their style but must admit I admired the skating talent they had. Living in Los Angeles the last 30 yrs, there was a cable talk show here about 10 years ago where many old Derby/Games skaters were interviewed. I have always wanted to ask you why did you abandon the southern california market in 1959? Why not two home teams Bay Bombers and Braves? Just maybe there would not have been Roller Games which became a circus after 1970. Also from what im told the T-Birds became way more popular in the 1960s than the Braves ever were especially since most of their skaters at the time were former Brave skaters. Also, one thing you might be able to clear up, according to that talk show a scheduled game in 1959 was cancelled and skaters and fans only found out when they showed up at the Olympic Aud. Is this true. I remember 3 skaters confirmed this

  27. Hey Jerry,
    I just wanted to say THANK YOU for all the great games and great memories. Roller Derby was my favorite sport growing up. I lived in southern Illinois and went to as many games as I could. Charlie O was my Hero! Oh what I would have given, and still would, to meet him. You and your Dad created a legacy of great memories for all of us!
    Thank You so much!

  28. Hi Jerry,

    Thank you very much for the entertainment you provided. I enjoyed the games on TV in the early 1970’s and enjoyed seeing live games in Bremerton, Tacoma, and Seattle, Washington. The live games were normally the Pioneers versus the Chiefs. I always liked to see the late Golden Girl Joan Weston battle the villain Sandy Dunn. Joan normally mopped the floor with Sandy at the end of most games. I was surprised to find they were good friends off track and owned a bar together along with another track villain/off track friend Cathie Read. Sandy just turned 70 years old January 8th. Hard to believe.The last I read she moved to Arkansas to care for her elderly parents. Cathie I believe is 74 and lives in Idaho with partner Janet Earp. Best wishes always, Bill

  29. Dear Commish,

    My name’s Katie Berger. Besides my skating life, I am also an MFA student in creative writing. My creative thesis is planned to be an urban fantasy novel linking a woman who played roller derby in the television era with her granddaughter who plays roller derby in the present day through a mutual connection to a vampire who has been engaged with their family in multiple generations.

    Since it’s of great importance to me that I portray 1960s era roller derby with as much accuracy and respect for the men and women who competed in that period as I have for the skaters who brought the sport back to life over the past decade and a half, any help that you can offer in re-creating the “inside” experience of that time in the life of roller derby would be greatly appreciated.

    My email address is Thank you in advance!

  30. Hello Jerry, I am currently producing a documentary about roller derby in Canada for Optik TV. I would love to touch base with you about the sport, and the changes you have seen




      • Dear Mr. Seltzer,
        My name is Ashton. I am writing a magazine article about your dad during the Great Depression of the 1930s for school. It is a research project. I am interested in knowing the facts about your dad’s life before he created roller derby.
        1. What jobs did your dad have between 1930 and 1934?
        2. What were some of your dad’s hobbies?
        3. What made your dad’s family want to move to America?
        4. Where is your dad’s family originally from?
        5. What made your dad want to go to Chicago?
        6. Do you know any other websites about your dad’s life and jobs before 1934?
        7. Do you have any interesting stories about your dad during the Great Depression?
        Thank you for your time and help for my project. I can send you a copy of my article when I finish it, if you would like.
        Immanuel Lutheran School
        1225 E. Second St.
        Belvidere, IL 61008

  31. Hi Jerry!
    I got your blog info from another skating friend, Danny Walters, who suggested I get in touch with you! I have some stories of my father’s (Tommy Sommers) that I’m editing so that I can publish them in a book, and I’ve made a list of all the names mentioned in it. Leo is one of the names and I thought it would be good to touch base with you so you could preview it before I publish it and let me know if it’s okay. I’m so glad Danny directed me to your blog! I really like reading your blog. 🙂 I’ve always loved swapping a good story. I hope its ok that I’m commenting this here! Wasn’t sure how else to contact you. Sometimes you just gotta try and hope for the best!

  32. Ive got a lot of old roller derby files dating back to 1949 from my dads old

    papers contracts programs and letters if you want them contact me at Bill Lavery

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