1997 Mintonette Medallion of Merit Recipient
“It’s a record unchallenged in sports,” said Jim Coleman, Director of the National Team Center and 1992 Volleyball Hall of Fame Inductee.
At the 1998 United States Volleyball national championships, Richard Caplan stepped up to serve for the Kenneth Allen Volleyball Club of Chicago at the age of 75, marking his 50th consecutive national championship appearance. “Cappy” would return for two more national championship appearances, finally retiring from active play after his 52nd straight USVB open in 1990.
Caplan began his run in 1937, in Louisville, Kentucky, playing for the Lawson YMCA in Chicago, and actively played in all the USVBA Open Championships through 1992. (NO tournaments were held in 1943-1944 because of World War II.) He was the starting setter on the National Champion Chicago North Avenue YMCA teams in 1941, 1942, 1945, and 1947. The 1947 title was one of his most memorable highlights, as he helped to revolutionize the game with “back sets” to whitey Wendt to upset the favored Pasadena team.
In the first 20 years, Caplan’s teams never finished lower than 5th place. Throughout his career the awards and honors stayed with Caplan, as he was named a USVBA Open Division All-American in 1941, 1942, and 1947, and a USVBA Senior All-American in 1961 and 1969, as his Chicago team won the Senior division title.
Caplan was also a player and manager of the USA-AAU National Champion teams in 1942, 1950, 1955, 1958, and 1974, as well as a USVBA national official from1962 through 1972.
A USVBA Commissioner of Region 7 from 1961 through 1970, he was awarded the USVBA’s “Neville Booth” Award in 1980, received the “Leader in Volleyball” Award in 1961, and was awarded the Medallion of Merit” in 1972.
Caplan was a member of the Olypic Volleyball Committee from 1973 to 1976, and received a special USVBA honor at Salt Lake City in 1988 for having played in 50 consecutive Open National Championships.
In 1996, the Volleyball Hall of Fame established the Mintonette Medallion of Merit in order to recognize an individual who has established a single significant record or has accomplished a single or multiple significant achievements in volleyball.