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

Category Archives: Executive

Alvin Cooperman

Alvin Cooperman (Executive.  Born, Brooklyn, NY, July 24, 1923; died, New York, NY, Aug. 11, 2006.)  After two hitches with the Shubert Organization (1939-51, 1963-67) and two with NBC Television (1951-63, 1967-68), Alvin Isaac Cooperman became executive vice president of Madison Square Garden in late 1968, effectively succeeding Ned Irish as chief operating officer of the building.  His tenure (1968-72) was a mixture of successes and failures, but in Nov. 1969, Cooperman helped launch the MSG Network.  When his Garden contract was not renewed, he turned to television production, winning Emmys (with co-producer Judith dePaul) for two of his live productions.

Jay Cross

Jay Cross (Executive.  Born, Toronto, Ont., Feb. 15, 1953.) A three-time Olympic sailor (1976, 1980, 1984) for his native Canada, Jay Cross joined the Jets July 25, 2000, to spearhead the project for building the team its own stadium, and he became Jets president March 1, 2001, following the retirement of Steve Gutman.  He came to New York from the Miami Heat, where he was president of business operations for the N.B.A. club from 1996-2000.  Cross coordinated the project to build the Heat’s new arena after having the same task in Toronto, where he was the key figure in the completion of the Air Canada Centre, the 22,500-seat arena.  Previously, he had been senior vice president of the Urban Development Group of Marlborough Properties, Ltd., a major Canadian international real estate developer.  Cross graduated from the University of Toronto and holds an M.A. in architectural technology from Columbia.  He is also a member of the New York Yacht Club and is on the board of the New World Symphony.  Cross resigned as Jets president in 2008, shortly after a deal was finalized to build a new Meadowlands football stadium, to join the real estate firm Related Cos.

Bill Devery

Bill Devery (Executive.  Born, New York, NY, Jan. 9, 1854; died, Far Rockaway, NY, June 20, 1919.)  A notoriously corrupt police official, William S. Devery was also one of the founding owners of the team that became the Yankees.  Devery joined the City Police force in 1874 and almost instantly became controversial for his shakedowns and bribe-taking.  He nonetheless advanced rapidly in the force and, despite being twice indicted while a precinct captain, became the first Chief of Police when New York City was consolidated Jan. 1, 1898.  Just 20 days after being praised as the “best chief the city ever had” by Mayor Robert A. Van Wyck, the State Legislature abolished the job to blunt further scandals.  Van Wyck obligingly then named Devery deputy commissioner of police.  In 1903, American League president Ban Johnson, desperate to have an A.L. team in New York, struck a bargain to sell the floundering Baltimore franchise to gambling hall operator Frank Farrell, who pledged to move it to Manhattan.  Farrell’s protector, Devery, became his silent partner, with coal merchant Joseph Gordon as the front man.  To perfect the deal, Farrell leased the newly-built ballpark at 168th Street and Broadway from a company owned by him, Devery, and Tammany Hall boss Thomas F. Foley.  The Highlanders began playing at Hilltop Park in 1903.  First Farrell and later Devery became known as the team’s owners.  The unsavory pair sold out at a handsome profit in 1915 to Jake Ruppert and Til Huston.

Charles Dolan

Charles Dolan (Executive.  Born, Cleveland, OH, Oct. 16, 1926.)  One of the acknowledged pioneers of the cable television industry, Charles Francis Dolan has also become one of the most important forces in New York sports.  Dolan founded the original Sterling Manhattan cable system in 1961.  After being involved in the formation of several important cable services and program providers (such as HBO), he founded Cablevision in 1973.  Dolan recognized early the value of sports programming and acquired rights for the Islanders (1974) and Mets (1980) during the developmental years of cable television.  His daring acquisition of Madison Square Garden and its affiliates (including the Knicks, Rangers, and MSG Network) was announced Aug. 28, 1994, and consummated Mar. 10, 1995, in partnership with ITT, the hotel and casino conglomerate.  Cablevision bought out its partner slightly less than two years later (Mar. 7, 1997), raising its total investment in the Garden properties to over $1 billion.  His acquisitions continued as Cablevision purchased the electronics retail chain, Nobody Beats the Wiz, and the lease on Radio City Music Hall (which then underwent a $70 million renovation).  After Leon Hess’ death in 1999, Dolan was an unsuccessful bidder for ownership of the Jets.

Nelson Doubleday

Nelson Doubleday (Executive.  Born, New York, NY, July 20, 1933.)  Scion of the famous New York publishing house (since sold to Germany’s Bertelsmann A.G.), Nelson Doubleday, Jr., graduated Princeton in 1954, served nearly five years in the U.S. Air Force and joined the family business in 1959. He became vice president of Doubleday & Co. in 1963 and its president in 1978. But he also accumulated distinguished credits as a sportsman, becoming the second-largest shareholder in the Islanders during their greatest years as the N.H.L.’s dominant team and, on Jan. 24, 1980, led the syndicate that purchased the Mets from the heirs of Mrs. Charles Shipman Payson (the former Joan Whitney). From 1980 to 2002, he served as chairman of the club.  On Aug. 13, 2002, he and Fred Wilpon announced the end of their stormy co-ownership.  For his half of the club, Doubleday received an estimated $200 million.  He paid slightly more than $20 million for the team in 1980.

Bill Dwyer

Bill Dwyer (Executive.  Born, New York, NY, Feb. 23, 1883; died, Belle Harbor, NY, Dec. 10, 1946.)  Best known during the early years of Prohibition as the “King of the Bootleggers,” William V. Dwyer became a major force in New York sports.  In 1925, Dwyer bought the distressed Hamilton (Ont.) Tigers for $75,000 and turned them into the New York Americans.  The Amerks, only the second U.S. N.H.L. team, debuted Dec. 15, 1925, at the then-new third Madison Square Garden.  Dwyer, meanwhile, ran afoul of the Feds due to his bootlegging activities and didn’t replace Ted Duggan on the N.H.L. Board of Governors until August 1928, after his release from Atlanta (Ga.) federal prison.  On July 12, 1930, Dwyer and John Depler bought the Dayton (O.) Triangles of the N.F.L. from Carl Storck and moved them to Ebbets Field as the Brooklyn Dodgers.  Dwyer then decided to get into horse racing and in 1931 built Tropical Park Racetrack in Coral Gables, Fla.  For many years, Dwyer operated a racing stable known as Montalvo Stud.  Dwyer bought out Depler and on July 9, 1933, sold the Football Dodgers to Chris Cagle and John (Shipwreck) Kelly.  Financial difficulties caused the N.H.L. to take control of the Americans in 1936 and Red Dutton was placed in charge of the team.  Dwyer’s option to repurchase them expired May 15, 1938, and Dutton bought the club.  In 1939, the Internal Revenue Service won a judgment against Dwyer in Eastern District court (Brooklyn) for $3,715,907 in taxes and penalties dating back to 1922, earning him another “vacation” at public expense.

Ahmet Ertegun

Ahmet Ertegun (Executive.  Born, Istanbul, Turkey, July 31, 1923; died, New York, NY, Dec. 14, 2006.)  Son of a major force in Turkish political history and a founder of Atlantic Records, Ahmet Ertegun was also one of the most important figures in American soccer in the 20th century.  In 1971, Ertegun and his older brother Neshui (d. 1989) founded a North American Soccer League team known then as the New York Cosmos.  Starting in 1971 at Yankee Stadium, the team moved its home games to Hofstra (1972-73), Randalls Island (1974-75) and, in 1976, back to Yankee Stadium before going to Giants Stadium the following year.  The team won N.A.S.L. championships (Soccer Bowls) in 1972, 1977, 1978, 1980, and 1982.  Over that period many of the greatest names in the sport played for the Cosmos, including Giorgio Chinaglia, Franz Beckenbauer, and the greatest of them all – Pele.  Crowds exceeding 70,000 were routine during the glory years at Giants Stadium.  Ertegun was initially vice president of the team, succeeding his brother in 1977 as president.  In 1983, the Cosmos were sold and the N.A.S.L. began to collapse.  Ertegun came to the U.S. at age 13 and in 1947, with Herb Abramson, founded Atlantic Records in a West Side hotel in Manhattan.  Recording stars ranging from John Coltrane and Ray Charles to Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stone, Atlantic became a music industry giant.  It was sold into the Warner Brothers conglomerate in 1967.  Ertegun’s father, Mehmet Munir, was an aide to Kemal Ataturk, founder of modern Turkey, and later ambassador to several countries, including the U.S.

Bernard Gimble

Bernard Gimble (Executive.  Born, Vincennes, IN, Apr. 10, 1885; died, New York, NY, Sept. 29, 1966.)  A burly former Penn football player, Bernard Feustman Gimble had a life-long interest in sports.  Gimble joined the family dry goods business in 1907 and later served as president (1922-53) and chairman (1953-66) of what became a major national department store chain.  He was an excellent swimmer who once helped rescue a boatload of people off the New Jersey shore.  Gimble became part of the group led by Floyd Odlum that took over Madison Square Garden in 1935, helping to rescue the financially-tottering arena.  He served for eight years as chairman of the Garden’s board of directors (1947-55).  He was also chairman of Saks & Co. and on the board of several major corporations, including Coca-Cola.  Gimble was an enthusiastic booster of New York City, serving nine terms as president of the New York Visitors & Convention Bureau (now “NYC & Co.”).  He was active in thoroughbred racing and both New York World’s Fairs (1939-40 and 1964-65).

John Goldner

John Goldner (Executive.  Born, New York, NY, Feb. 1, 1911; died, Elmhurst, NY, Dec. 10, 1999.)  John August Goldner began his administrative career as a student assistant to N.Y.U. graduate manager of athletics Albert Nixon in 1930.  Following his graduation (1932), he moved to the Rockefeller Center offices of Ned Irish (1934) to assist in the launch of major college basketball at Madison Square Garden, which Irish introduced Dec. 29, 1934.  Goldner worked with Irish until entering the U.S. military during World War II and returned in 1946 to become full-time Garden employee, following Irish, who had moved his operations there.  Resuming his management of the now-thriving college basketball program, Goldner also served as business manager of the Knickerbockers pro club for its first 20 seasons (1946-65).  He set up the 69th Regiment Armory in Manhattan as the Knicks’ principal home court (116 of the Knicks’ first 389 home games were played there, as well as 15 playoff games).  In 1950, Goldner assumed overall responsibility for the booking of dates at the Garden, a position he held until he retired in 1976.

Stanton Griffis

Stanton Griffis (Executive.  Born, Boston, MA, May 2, 1887; died, New York, NY, Aug. 29, 1974.)  Noted principally as an investment banker and diplomat, Stanton Griffis was also associated with Madison Square Garden for more than two decades as a director, including 12 years as chairman (1935-47).  Graduating from Cornell in 1910, Griffis began a 60-year association as an investment banker at Hornblower & Weeks (later Hornblower, Weeks-Hemphill, Noyes) in 1914.  He served as a U.S. Army captain in World War I and returned to Wall Street.  During a reorganization of the Garden board in 1933, Griffis became a director, a role he was to fill until 1955.  In 1935, he was part of the group of directors who took control of the Garden from John Hammond and appointed John Reed Kilpatrick president.  During World War II, Griffis served with the Office of War Information and then became a diplomat in the post-war Truman administration.  He was ambassador to Poland (1947), Egypt (1948), Argentina (1949) and then Spain (1951-52).  His service in Spain was uniquely significant, opening U.S. relations with the fascist regime of Generalissimo Francisco Franco.  Griffis remained a partner in his investment banking firm until his death.

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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