Barry Bremen Memorial Inspiration Award

Tonight, the Michigan Jewish Sports Foundation is proud to present the 2019 Barry Bremen Memorial Inspiration Award, honoring the memory of “The Great Impostor.”

This special award was established to recognize inspiring individuals in our community.

Barry Bremen

Barry BremenTaken from an obituary published in The Record/Herald News on July 7, 2011

Barry Bremen. a Detroit-area businessman whose fun-loving, gate-crashing stunts led him to shoot layups before NBA All-Star games, accept an Emmy Award for best supporting actress, and flee from veteran baseball manager Tommy LaSorda, died of cancer at age 64 on June 30, 2011. It was Barry who introduced Dick Schaap to the Michigan Jewish Sports Foundation and the Hank Greenberg Memorial Golf Invitational.

Sometimes called the “Great Impostor,” Barry became known to millions during the 1980s for sneaking onto professional courts and fields wearing chicken suits, as well as player and umpire uniforms – capers that required such accomplices as baseball player George Brett and golfer Jack Nicklaus. Some of his more famous exploits included being chased off the field by Tommy LaSorda, then the Los Angeles Dodgers manager, during 1986 All-Star Game warm-ups, and slipping onto the stage to accept an Emmy award in 1985 for Betty Thomas of ‘Hill Street Blues· before she could make her way to the microphone.

Barry Bremen, beloved husband to Margo and a father of three, was an enthusiastic amateur athlete who ran a successful merchandising business in the Detroit suburb of Bloomfield Hills. Friends say he began his career as the Great Impostor in 1978 while attending a Detroit Pistons game. He casually made his way toward the visiting Kansas City Kings bench and grabbed the warm-up suit of a Kings benchwarmer, getting some floor time in the final minutes of his team’s rout of the lowly Pistons. The get-up reappeared a few months later on Mr. Bremen’s 6-foot-3-inch frame in the NBA All-Star Game. After an air ball and a couple of clunkers, players started feeding him the ball. His hard work, love of the game and charm endeared himself to many professional players. ‘They always have a good time pulling something off against the establishment,” Barry told The Associated Press in 1997. ‘That’s why it has been so successful.”

Bremen’s list of stunts included shagging flies in a New York Yankees uniform before the 1979 All-Star Game in Seattle; showing up at home plate dressed as an umpire before a 1980 World Series game in Philadelphia between the Phillies and Royals; dressing and performing as a Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader; and playing a practice round with Fred Couples and Curtis Strange at the 1985 U.S. Open at Oakland Hills. Michigan. He found his way by invitation onto the late-night sets of Johnny Carson and David Letterman, and became a subject of a ‘Jeopardy!’ question. Barry told the AP he “retired” from gate-crashing because he didn’t want to be mistaken for the real nuts, who run onto sports fields for attention or worse.

Barry Bremen passed away in June, 2011 after a courageous fight with cancer.

Past Honorees

  • 2012 – Adam Bremen
  • 2013 – Bayla Hochheiser
  • 2014 – Jonny Imerman
  • 2015 – Eunice and Milton Ring
  • 2016 – Michael Lutz, MD
  • 2017- Rabbi Elimelech Goldberg
  • 2018 – Ian Burnstein, Gary Burnstein Community Health Clinic
  • 2019 – Danialle Karmanos
  • 2021 – The Granader Family and Camp Mak-A-Dream
  • 2022 – Christy McDonald
  • 2023 – Hon. Jamie Wittenberg (z”l)