Joe Schabacker was a major player in the world of gymnastics and acrobatics for many years. At the recent (2007) HOF Induction Ceremony, we spoke briefly, and, surprisingly, he remembered me. We joked a bit about my gymnastics, and I came back a bit with comments about his judging. It was a nice reunion. I expect to hear from Joe soon and learn more about his life in the various sports in which he participated. He is a man whose impeccable reputation precedes him wherever he goes.
Joseph C. Schabacker served as president of the U.S. Sports Acrobatics Federation from 1975-93. He was a professional hand balancer for 10 years and a gymnastics judge for 24 years. He competed for Temple University from 1938-43.
Joe began his gymnastics at Wagner Jr. High in Philadelphia. He then competed at Northeast High School in gymnastics and performed a hand-balancing act in vaudeville contests, winning various prizes. He was a City and AAU medal winner on PH, V and PB. During this time he performed with Bill Ault and also with Richard Lobs in hand-balancing acts.
Joe then moved on to Temple U. and was a member of the 1941 ECAC/EIGL League championship team and placed 1st in the Conf. on the PH in 1943. He also was a medal winner in other various YMCA, AAU and collegiate competitions. For example he was 2nd on PH and 3rd on PB at the Middle Atlantic AAU championships in 1943 in Philadelphia, and placed 3rd at the National AAU championships on the PH that same year.
Joe was also a cheerleader and performed with an adagio trio in such places as Madison Square Gardens. He also trained at the famous Philadelphia Turners and at the William Hermann gym.
From 1975 to 1993 he served as President of the United States Sports Acrobatics Federation, hosted the Polish World Champions and Chinese Acrobatics Teams to the USA. In 1995 he helped form the World Acrobatics Society. He has been accorded the title of Honorary Lifetime President of the Sport Acrobatic Society. He was also a delegate to the International Federation of Sports Acrobatics (IFSA), served on the United States Olympic Committee and was Chairman of the IFSA Scientific Committee.
After college Joe performed for about ten years as a professional hand-balancer with Al Motter (Joe’s professional name was Joe Shannon), and in a trio with Dorothy Gaye. He performed with a Marine Corps show in China-1946, performed with Juveneau and Allen for the Bob Crosby All-Marine Show on the Hawaiin Islands-1945. He also performed at a varity of locations including: Pennsylvania, New York, Illinois, Atlantic City, San Diego, and Los Angeles. He performed hundreds of club dates. Joe was also a highly rated judge for AAU and NCAA competitions. Joe received his B.S. degree from Temple University, M.B.A. from UCLA and Ph.D. from UCLA.
Joe was later Vice-President of Arizona State University and retired as Professor-Emeritus. He also served in the Military and Military Reserves, attaining the rank of Colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps with 33 years of service. He has been a member of over 15 Professional and Civic Organizations.
He published several books and articles over the years; Accounting Problems with Answers and Small Business Information Sources are just a couple of examples of his publications.
Sources: Interview with Dr. Schabacker with data provided by Jerry Wright, author of Gymnastics Who’s Who, 2005. Color photo by Larry Banner and other provided courtesy of Jerry Wright. Introduction, commentary, and formatting by Larry Banner and Jerry Wright.