Harrisburg, PA — Marvin Bachrad, a member of harness racing’s Communicators Hall of Fame, a former president of the U.S. Harness Writers Association (USHWA) with 35 years as a director of the association, and such an influence on generations of harness journalists that he won the Harness Horse Youth Foundation Service To Youth Award, passed away on Friday evening in Phoenix, AZ at the age of 82.
Born to the late Max and Freda (Lipow) Bachrad on December 28, 1935, Bachrad was already doing sports journalism while at Norristown (PA) High School, into whose Hall of Fame he was inducted in 2015 – he gained fame by entering sports trivia contests and acquiring a massive collection of sporting equipment. After graduation, he served his country as director of the Armed Forces Radio Services camp station in Fort Jackson SC. He worked in radio, starting in Beckley, WV then gravitating back to his native Philadelphia area, initially his hometown of Norristown, where he conducted the first sports call-in show.
Two contacts proved important in Philadelphia: Tommy Roberts, owner of a radio station in Camden, NJ (near Garden State Park) and a thoroughbred broadcaster who was an influence on Bachrad’s being “double-gaited” in his horse racing knowledge (he had no family connections to racing); and the sports staff of Philadelphia’s KYW Newsradio, where he quickly made his talents evident and covered the city’s major sporting events for over 40 years, with a 1982 induction into the Philadelphia Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame.
Bachrad worked as an announcer at Liberty Bell Park and was an assistant publicist to the legendary “Colonel” Dave Herman at Brandywine, and upon Herman’s retirement after the 1979 season became the track’s director of publicity. Working with the Electronic Race Patrol of Sid Alpert and his son Mark, with whom he worked while doing thoroughbred publicity at Garden State Park, Bachrad was a pioneer of pre-race handicapping on tracks’ closed-circuit TV system, and an innovator in doing attractive and detailed video profiles of horses and horsemen competing at Brandywine.
Bachrad later worked at TIMES: in harness, the Harrisburg, PA publication that was the first major entry into the electronic reporting of harness racing news. He then was summoned back to the outskirts of his Delaware Valley roots when the state of Delaware passed slot machine gaming. He became publicity director at Dover Downs, a track that so profited from the new gaming that its late 1995 Invitational purse in three successive weeks was $2000-$5000-$9000, and which rose from 55th of 57 harness tracks in terms of purses to second a couple of years later. Bachrad served as publicity director for over two decades at the capital city track, using the combination of innovation, hard work, and attention to the needs of the fans that had hallmarked his career.
Bachrad also gave back to the sport on a national level. He was president of USHWA in 1992-1993, and at the time of his passing, his 35 years of being a director for the organization was tops among living directors of USHWA. He was a president of the Harness Publicists Association, winning that group’s Golden Pen Award.
With such ability and success, of course, came many awards, with the crown being his 1997 election to the Communicators Hall of Fame. His 1988 Service To Youth Award meant very much to him, being a mentor to many of harness racing’s “next generations” of media – three of which have followed him into the Communicators Hall of Fame. He was the winner of Harness Tracks of America’s Dan Patch Award for excellence in communications in 2005, and received a 2010 Special Appreciation Award from the Delaware Standardbred Owners Association, in addition to the other tributes mentioned above.
Marv was also a harness horse owner for over 40 years, from the early days of Liberty Bell, where a newcomer named Herve Filion was the trainer/driver of his horses, right up to July of this year, when his sophomore trotting filly Star Sapphire won a $100,000 Delaware Standardbred Race Fund Championship at the State Fair at Harrington. He possessed a detailed knowledge of pedigrees.
Bachrad leaves behind two brothers, Allen (Marci) of Phoenix, AZ and Ronald (Eileen) of Boca Raton, FL; a bachelor, he also leaves behind four nieces/nephews and six grandnieces/grandnephews. His “extended” family, a lifetime of colleagues and friends, will also greatly miss his sagacity and kindness.
Interment will be held at 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday at Montefiore Cemetery, 600 Church Road, Jenkintown, PA 19046. There will be a luncheon at the Monte Carlo Restaurante, 8080 Old York Rd., Elkins Park, PA 19027, immediately following services. All are welcome.
A religious service called Shiva will be observed at the Tiferet Bet Israel Synagogue, 1920 W. Skippack Pike, Blue Bell, PA 19422 at approximately 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday.
Donations in his honor may be made at your discretion or to the Mitzvah Circle, 1561 Gehman Road, Harleysville, PA 19438.