Sol Tollin was born in 1929, was raised in Chester, Pa. and attended Haverford College from 1947-1951. His passion was baseball and basketball, and he was named All City in both sports at Chester High.
At Haverford College, he continued to excel on the basketball court, averaging twenty points in an era where teams totaled around forty per game. He accomplished this despite the fact that he stood 5 feet 7 inches tall.
“It is the best of all possible worlds”, he said. “I was playing a game that I loved and getting a great education in the bargain”. At Haverford, Tollin made Phi Beta Kappa and also made the Inquirer’s weekly list of high scorers often ranking ahead of such local college heroes as Villanova’s Paul Arizin, St. Joe’s George Senesky and LaSalle’s Larry Foust.
Sol recalled the first basketball game he ever played. “We won the game 10-6; I had six points but came home with a broken thumb. My mother cried because I was a pianist and she never came to any of my games after that.” To complete the cycle, in Sol’s last game, played when he was in his seventies against his sons, he tore his Achilles tendon. He had come full circle. “When you’re a fraction over 5:7, you will get hurt, even if most of your points come on a two-hand set shot from beyond what is now the three-point line.”
However, sports had treated Tollin well, serving as a way to draw him closer to his sons as they grew up. He had played basketball, but his real passion was baseball and the Phillies. Dinnertime in the Tollin household often was scheduled around the Phillies game time.
Sol Tollin believed sports to be a metaphor for life. Whether working as a member of a team or participating individually, commitment and dedication require accountability. He believed athletics prepared a person to take chances and accept failure or success.
Sol Tollin died in a drowning accident on August 18, 2006.