New-York Historical Society's Bill Shannon Dictionary of New York Sports

Category Archives: College sports

Pete Carlesimo


Pete Carlesimo (College sports.  Born, Newark, NJ, Sept. 2, 1915; died, Upper Montclair, NJ, June 23, 2003.)  Noted generally for his restructuring of the National Invitation Tournament, Peter A. Carlesimo established his original reputation in football rather than basketball.  A Fordham graduate who for played for the Rams (1937-39) as a guard, in 1945 he became head coach at Scranton.  In 16 seasons, Carlesimo had an 80-60-4 record, generally against much larger schools.  After the 1960 season, Scranton dropped football but Carlesimo remained as athletic director.  He assumed the same position at Fordham in 1968, rapidly becoming one of the most sought-after speakers in New York sports, celebrated for his humor and story-telling.  Carlesimo became executive director of the N.I.T. in 1977 and moved first-round games (traditionally played in the Garden) to campus sites.  By 1980, the field had doubled to 32 teams and only the semifinals and final remained at the Garden, making the N.I.T. a truly national tournament.  Carlesimo retired in 1988, being succeeded July 1 by former Manhattan star, coach, and athletic director Jack Powers.  He is the father of P.J. Carlesimo.

William Russell


William Russell (College sports.  Born, The Bronx, NY, Apr. 12, 1884; died, Los Angeles, CA, Feb. 18, 1929.)  A standout all-around athlete at Fordham under his birth name William Lerche, William Russell became a leading movie star in the silent film era.  Russell mixed a modest boxing career with some vaudeville and stage work before appearing in his first film in 1912.  With the motion picture industry then centered in New York and Fort Lee, N.J., Russell quickly rose to lead status and moved with the industry to Hollywood in the 1920s.  Many of his parts emphasized his athletic skills.  He appeared in more than 70 films of varying quality, starring opposite such names as George O’Brien, Conrad Nagel, Janet Gaynor, Irene Rich, and Myrna Loy.  Russell was Boston Blackie in the 1923 detective mystery Larry Gilmore, the lead in Great Night (1922), played leading roles in Anna Christie (1923), The Blue Eagle (1926), The Girl from Chicago (1927), and many others.  He married Helen Ferguson, a noted actress with whom he appeared in Desert Blossoms (1921) and The Crusader (1922).  After his death, she became a Hollywood press agent.  Russell died at age 44 after a brief bout with pneumonia.

About This Dictionary

The Bill Shannon Biographical Dictionary of New York Sports is an open database of sports biographies maintained by Jordan Sprechman and Marty Appel. We welcome public and scholarly contributions and suggestions.

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About Bill Shannon

A prolific author, wire service sports reporter, long time Major League Baseball official scorer, football statistician, sports museum founder, theatrical agency owner and public ... read more

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