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Jack Platten.

You may not have known Jack Platten, but if you went to a basketball game at Jadwin Gym, you certainly saw him wearing his well-worn white Princeton cap and beige coat or pushing his walker with tennis balls on the legs to the bleachers.

Platten sat near mid-court at Jadwin for every Princeton basketball game but two since the building was opened 40 years ago, accompanied by his wife Barbara before her death in 2004. The two were married for 64 years. After Barbara's passing, Mr. Platen was joined in his seat by his grandson.

A member of the Class of 1938, he loved Princeton sports dearly. For his 80th birthday, his family had the Princeton coaches and players sign a basketball for him, which is still proudly displayed on the table next to his television.

Last year's Penn/Princeton finale was Mr. Platten's last trip to Jadwin, as he became ill this summer and passed away on Tuesday at the age of 91. As his son Rob wrote in an email to me, "his 80 years of smoking finally caught up with him."

I first met Mr. Platten through this site and enjoyed the detailed, well-written and funny emails he would occasionally send me. He was a witty man, who often would poke light at his deteriorating physical state, yet somehow was still telling me about the tennis he found the ability to play.

Jadwin feels a little emptier without him.

Here's a memory of Butch Van Breda Kolff that Jack wrote in September of 2007.

Cheerio, Jack.


I’ve been one of Butch Van Breda Kolff’s friends and admirers since he returned to Princeton’s basketball team in 1946 and was a constant attendant at the post-game parties our local group of basketball fans had for the outstanding players, so I’ve read with interest all the articles in the papers about his career. Here are a few items that everyone appears to have missed:

I’ll start with my recollection of the party Butch and Florence hosted back in 1965 to “celebrate” the final four record. The party was in the basement recreation room of the Faculty Apartments down by the Lake and (incidentally) one of the other guests was a little guy from Butch’s Lafayette team by the name of Pete Carril. Butch told me that he was really teed off at the moment–first at Ken Fairman for not picking up the transportation expense for Florence to go to Portland with him and the team, and second at the University which had just the week before notified him of an increase in the rent for their apartment. I’ve always felt this was the beginning of the end for his Princeton connection.

Just a few years later, Jackie Kent Cook (millionaire owner of the Los Angeles Lakers) went after Butch to come and manage the Lakers (with Wilt Chamberlain as player). Most sports writers were baffled by this choice, but what they didn’t know at the time was that Cook was expecting that a professional soccer league was in the offing and he wanted to have a soccer team in Los Angeles, too. That made Butch a two-fer, since he had been captain of Princeton’s soccer team and had made the All-American list as a player. I haven’t seen any mention of this in the recent splurge of articles and obits for Butch.

Just a few more notes from my memory box. When I first played tennis with him in 1962, I was quickly aware that he was a left-handed athlete, something I didn’t recall of him when he was a hoops player here or on the Knicks He was a damn fine tennis player, and it was continuing fun for me to play with or against him in doubles during many summers at Barnegat Light, north of Harvey Cedars, where he had a cottage. The after-game beers were also pleasant.

Cheerio Jack Platten ‘38


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