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Benjy Bluman surprised at being inductee into Buffalo sports hall of fame

This is the second in a series of profiles on the 2016 inductees into the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame.

Name: Benjamin “Benjy” Bluman.

Sport: Basketball Official.

Hometown: Buffalo.

Born: Aug. 17, 1945.

Career overview: Benjy Bluman has been around the Western New York sports scene for a very long time.

He’s been patrolling high school and college basketball courts as an IAABO official for 42 years. It’s been more than a hobby for him, since he’s been on the board for the past 25 years and served as the president of the organization for the past 14.

His journey as a zebra came after a successful sports career of his own. He was a two-sport athlete in basketball and baseball and played both collegiately at Buffalo State.

“Growing up I always had a ball in my hand,” Bluman said. “My parents both still can’t understand why I’m not teaching gym. … I always loved sports.”

That love was something Bluman never wanted to give up. Refereeing turned out to be a great way to continue his involvement in local sports once his own career passed by.

“When I got out of college, I kept playing basketball and got into other things, and someone said try refereeing,” Bluman said. “I said, ‘Wear stripes and have everyone yelling and screaming at you? Why would anyone want to do that?’ 42 years later, I’m still refereeing.”

Memorable moment: Bluman was a part of the first Bengal basketball team to go undefeated in conference and helped the school earn its first NCAA Tournament bid. Even though it was at the Division II level, it’s an experience he’ll never forget.

“I don’t care what level you’re at,” Bluman said. “It’s still cutting down the net and winning something that you practiced the whole year for.”

He’s got game: Before jumping to the college game, Bluman was an outstanding basketball player at Riverside High School. He led the Yale Cup in points his senior year and was named to the All-High team. At Buffalo State, Bluman averaged just over eight points a game and earned multiple honors. He was selected to the All-SUNYAC second-team and received Buffalo State’s Hube Coyer Outstanding Senior Athlete Award.

Weekend warrior: Bluman continued his career on the diamond by playing 12 years with the Plant 6 slo-pitch softball team. When the team started they would just make local trips, but as time went along they’d go as far as Kansas, Florida and Alabama. He was named the slo-pitch player of the year in 1980 and 1981.

Quotable: “I’m totally surprised by the whole thing,” Bluman said about his induction into the Hall. “When you consider the people that are in there … Reggie McKenzie, Alex Mogilny and all the pro athletes that are in there. My name is up there, even though it was never professionally … it was stuff that I just enjoy doing.”

Add it to the list: In addition to joining the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame, Bluman is also in the Officials Hall of Fame, the Buffalo State Athletics Hall of Fame, the Western New York Softball Hall of Fame and is on the Jewish Center Sports Wall of Fame.

Post career: Bluman is still refereeing, but decided this year to stop doing so at the collegiate level. He also works in banking for First Niagara, soon to be Key Bank.

The GBSHOF induction dinner is Oct. 6 at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center. Tickets can be purchased at the GBSHOF website, buffalosportshallfame.com.

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