Amarillo man to be featured on 'Antiques Roadshow' with history-making gold medal

Last Updated by Chip Chandler on
Grant Zahajko examines an Amarillo man's Olympic gold medal.
Courtesy Meredith Nierman / WGBH

By Chip Chandler — Digital Content Producer

Amarillo man Oliver Fortenberry is on a mission when he appears on Monday's new episode of Antiques Roadshow.

The episode, "Fort Worth, Hour 3," debuts at 7 p.m. Monday on Panhandle PBS and will be available to view online following its airing.

Fortenberry traveled to Fort Worth last summer to ask the show's experts to appraise an Olympic gold medal that his father, basketball legend Joe Fortenberry, won in 1936 in Berlin — not with any idea to sell the medal, but instead to remind America of his father's achievements.

"Oh yeah, I'd never sell it," Oliver Fortenberry said.

Still, appraiser Grant Zahajko was quite enamored of the medal, as you'll see in the the episode.

"He didn't realize the import of that team and my dad until I gave him my spiel," Fortenbery said. "His assistant started googling and his eyes widened."

You see, Joe Fortenberry was the captain of the U.S. men's basketball team in the Berlin Games, the first time basketball was a medal sport. But his contributions to the sport didn't stop there.

He was credited by the New York Times with the first successful dunk in 1936 in Madison Square Garden. Because of his height — 6 foot, 7 inches — rules against goaltending were adopted, and rules requiring a tip-off after every goal were changed because he kept winning them, Oliver Fortenberry said.

The elder Fortenberry — who attended the then-West Texas State Teachers College in Canyon after growing up in Happy — played American Athletic Union basketball for the Ogden Boosters, the McPherson (Kan.) Globe Refiners and the Phillips 66 Oilers. 

He is a member of the Amateur Basketball Hall of Fame, but his son hopes for greater accolades.

"I wanted to get on TV and promote getting him and his team into the Basketball Hall of Fame," Fortenberry said. "We're working on that."

Bonus footage of Fortenberry showing his father's uniforms and other career memorabilia will be available Monday afternoon at pbs.org/antiques.

The episode, the third of three filmed in Fort Worth, will debut at 7 p.m. Monday and re-air at midnight Wednesday. It also will be available online after it initially airs.

 

 

 

Chip Chandler is a digital content producer for Panhandle PBS. He can be contacted at Chip.Chandler@actx.edu, at @chipchandler1 on Twitter and at www.facebook.com/chipchandlerwriter on Facebook.

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