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

Category Archives: D

Harry Danning

Harry Danning (Baseball.  Born, Los Angeles, CA, Sept. 6, 1911; died, Valparaiso, IN, Nov. 29, 2004.)  Son of a Russian émigré, Harry Danning became one of the best-hitting catchers in the late 1930s for the Giants.  Danning originally worked in the rug business and played semipro baseball.  He became a full-time player at Bridgeport in 1931 and by 1933 was at Buffalo, where he hit .349 in 55 games.  Danning joined the Giants in late July as a backup to Gus Mancuso.  For the next three years, he remained at best a part-timer and his hitting suffered.  But in 1937, Danning played 93 games and boosted his average from .159 in 32 games in 1936 to .288.  Over the next five seasons (1938-42), he was the Giants’ top catcher.  His best year was 1939 (.313 with 16 homers and 28 doubles).  Danning was in military service (1943-45) and developed an arthritic knee.  A slow righthanded hitter, he batted .285 in an 890-game major league career, all with the Giants, all but one game as a catcher.  Danning got three hits in the fourth game of the 1937 World Series at the Polo Grounds against the Yankees, a 7-3 Giants win (their only victory that Series), despite a broken bone in his hand.  After the war, he coached briefly in the minors, worked in the circulation department at the Daily News and then became a successful insurance salesman in San Francisco, Calif.

Ed Danowski

Ed Danowski (Pro and college football.  Born, Jamesport, NY, Sept. 30, 1911; died, East Patchogue, NY, Feb. 1, 1997.)  Last coach of Fordham’s “big-time” football program, Edward Danowski first came to prominence as a Rams quarterback in 1932.  Danowski threw two touchdown passes that year in a 14-0 victory over St. Mary’s at the Polo Grounds.  He captained the Rams in 1933 and then signed with the Football Giants.  In his eight seasons (1934-41) with the Giants, Danowski helped the team win N.F.L. championships in 1934 and 1938, as well as East Division crowns in 1935 and 1939.  He threw for one touchdown and ran for another in the 1934 “Sneakers Game” victory over the Chicago Bears for the league title and passed for the winning score to Hank Soar in the 1938 championship game against Green Bay.  Danowski set a then-N.F.L. record with 795 yards passing in 1935.  He became Fordham’s head coach in 1946.  His first team was 0-7, but his 1950 team (playing primarily at Randalls Island) was 8-1.  In 1954, the Rams were 1-7-1 and the school dropped football.  It later resumed as a club sport, eventually advancing to varsity, albeit at the Div. III, and then Div. I-AA, level.  Danowski was 29-44-3 overall as Fordham head coach.

Allison Danzig

Allison Danzig (Sportswriter.  Born, Waco, TX, Feb. 27, 1898; died, Ridgewood, NJ, Jan. 27, 1987.)  After graduating from Cornell, where he played football under Gil Dobie despite his diminutive size, Allison Danzig began his newspaper career with the Brooklyn Eagle in 1921.  Danzig moved to The New York Times in 1923 and was, by 1930, a regular on the college football beat.  He also developed other, more surprising, specialties, including golf and, especially, tennis.  Danzig was to become the most influential writer in America on racquet sports.  At a dinner in his honor, retiring Times sports editor Jim Roach accused Danzig of “inventing” world court tennis champion Pierre Etchebaster, since no other U.S. writer ever wrote about him.  (Etchebaster was, of course, quite real.)  Danzig never got too far from his affinity for college football.  His 1956 book, The History of American Football, was considered the major work on the sport for decades.  After 45 years at The Times, Danzig retired in 1968 at the start of the Open era in tennis.

Alvin Dark

Alvin Dark (Baseball.  Comanche, OK, Jan. 7, 1922.)  A football player at L.S.U., Alvin Ralph Dark was the 1948 N.L. Rookie of the Year with the pennant-winning Boston Braves.  But much of his career is connected to the Giants (both in New York and San Francisco).  Dark was traded by Boston to New York Dec. 14, 1949, in a six-player deal that was highly controversial at the time, sending, among others, the popular Sid Gordon (q.v.) and Buddy Kerr (q.v.) to Boston.  But Dark and Eddie Stanky (who also came from Boston in the deal) formed the core of manager Leo Durocher’s infield defense.  Dark was an above-average shortstop and a tough clutch hitter who batted .289 in a 14-year major league career.  He hit .303 for the Giants’ 1951 pennant winners and .293 with 20 homers for the 1954 World Series champions.  His single off Don Newcombe opened the famed ninth-inning rally that culminated in Bobby Thomson’s pennant-winning homer in the third game of the 1951 playoff against Brooklyn at the Polo Grounds.  On June 14, 1956, Dark was traded to St. Louis in an eight-player deal that brought second baseman Red Schoendienst and three others to New York.  He ended his playing career in 1960 and was named Giants manager Oct. 31.  He managed San Francisco to the 1962 N.L. pennant and Oakland’s 1974 World Series champions.

Ron Darling

Ron Darling (College and pro baseball.  Born, Honolulu, HI, Aug. 19, 1960.)  A standout for Yale and a regular starter for the Mets, Ronald Maurice Darling, Jr., helped pitch three teams to division titles in a 13-year major league career.  Darling also pitched the longest no-hitter in N.C.A.A. baseball history (although he lost the game).  The righthander was 25-8 with a 2.00 e.r.a. in three seasons at Yale, striking out 256 in 274 innings.  He was E.I.B.L. pitcher of the year in 1980 and 1981.  Darling was also a reserve defensive back in football for two seasons.  On May 21, 1981, he pitched an 11-inning no-hitter against St. John’s (Frank Viola started for the Redmen) in the N.C.A.A. playoffs but lost, 1-0, on a hit in the 12th.  Drafted and signed by Texas, Darling was a minor league player in the deal that sent Mets outfielder Lee Mazzilli to the Rangers Apr. 1, 1982.  After two seasons with Tidewater of the International League, he made his Mets debut Sept. 6, 1983, and made five starts, going 1-3.  But the following year, Darling won a spot in the rotation, finishing 12-9.  He was 15-6 for the 1986 World Series champions and 17-9 for the 1988 East Division winners.  Overall, Darling was 94-64 in 224 starts for the Mets, leading or sharing the lead in starts for six straight seasons (1984-89) before a July 15, 1991, trade sent him to Montreal with pitcher Mike Thomas for pitcher Tim Burke.  On July 31, the Expos sent him to Oakland.  There, he was 15-10 in 1992, helping the A’s win the A.L. West.  Darling was 136-116 when he was released by Oakland Aug. 20, 1995.  He joined the Mets broadcasting team and developed into an acclaimed analyst, teaming with former teammate Keith Hernandez and play-by-play announcer Gary Cohen.

Jake Daubert

Jake Daubert (Baseball.  Born, Llewellyn, PA, Apr. 7, 1884; died, Cincinnati, OH, Oct. 9, 1924.)  Twice N.L. batting champion for Brooklyn, Jacob Ellsworth Daubert was also the best first baseman in his league during most of his career.  Daubert hit .314 in 81 games at Memphis in 1909 and Brooklyn acquired him from the Cleveland organization that fall.  His glove earned him the first base job in 1910 and his bat made him the highest-paid player in Brooklyn for a time.  Starting in 1911, Daubert hit .307, .308, .350, .329, .301, and .316.  He won the batting title in 1913 (.350) and was also the league M.V.P.  He led the league’s hitters again in 1914 and helped the Dodgers win a surprise pennant in 1916.  The 1918 season was shortened by order of Secretary of War Newton Baker.  Since the season ended nearly a month early, baseball owners pro-rated players’ salaries.  But Daubert, who hit .308 that year, sued and won slightly over $1,250 in withheld pay.  Dodgers owner Charles Ebbets considered him disloyal and in March 1919 traded him to Cincinnati for outfielder Tommy Griffith.  Daubert then helped the Reds win their first N.L. pennant.  Late in the 1924 season, Daubert had an emergency appendectomy and died from complications after the surgery.

Bill Daughtry

Bill Daughtry (Sportscaster.  Born, New York, NY, Aug. 23, 1953.)  A warm and engaging on-air personality, Bill Daughtry has been a broadcaster since 1974, when he became a weekend news reporter at WPTR in Albany, N.Y.  Daughtry moved from there to the National Black Network in New York (1976-77), WFAS in Westchester (1977), and WGCH in Greenwich, Conn. (1979-86).  In between, he became sports director at WMCA (1981-85) and then sports anchor at WCBS (1987-92).  After four years at WFAN (1993-97), Daughtry became a “SportsDesk” anchor at MSG Network.  In Nov. 2006, he moved to ESPN, where he became a radio SportsCenter anchor and show host.

Horace Davenport

Horace Davenport (Rowing.  Born, Buffalo, NY, Jan. 26, 1907; died, Manchester-by-the-Sea, MA, Sept. 15, 1991.)  As the most celebrated member of Columbia’s most famous rowing eight, Horace E. Davenport represented the finest traditions of intercollegiate and amateur athletics.  Davenport was an all-around athlete at Columbia, playing three seasons of varsity football and competing on the swimming team for four years.  It was in rowing that Davenport gained his greatest distinction.  He captained the freshman boat that won the Intercollegiate Rowing Association championship at Poughkeepsie in 1926, winning the two-mile race by 10 seconds over California.  He then served as the No. 7 oar in a boat that won the varsity I.R.A. championship twice in three years over the four-mile course in the Hudson River in what was one of the major sports attractions in the nation in the 1920s.  In 1927, the Columbia shell covered the distance in 20:57 to beat Washington and California.  California beat Columbia in 1928 but the Lions gained their revenge in 1929 with a victory over Washington.  That Columbia crew achieved many distinctions, including winning the Childs Cup regatta against Princeton and Pennsylvania in both 1928 and 1929, giving Columbia two straight victories in the race for the first time since the competition began in 1879.  Davenport was voted the best athlete in the 1929 class and subsequently served as chairman of the National Rowing Foundation.

Willie Davenport

Willie Davenport (Track and field.  Born, Troy, AL, June 8, 1943; died, Chicago, IL, June 17, 2002.)  An Olympic gold medal hurdler in 1968, Willie Davenport was also a dominant competitor in New York indoor meets.  Davenport was a five-time winner at the Millrose Games.  He ran for the U.S. Army and later the Houston Striders in open meets, winning three straight A.A.U. titles at the Garden in the 60-yard hurdles (1969-71).  Davenport set an American indoor record in the event (7.1 seconds) at the 1969 Olympic Invitation meet at the Garden and lowered it to 7.0 the following year.  He ran in four Summer Olympic Games (1964, 1968, 1972, 1976) and was on a U.S. four-man bobsled team at the 1980 Winter Games.

Gar Davidson

Gar Davidson (College football.  Born, The Bronx, NY, Apr. 24, 1904; died, Oakland, CA, Dec. 25, 1992.)  A football star at Stuyvesant H.S., Garrison Holt Davidson had a long and distinguished military career that saw him rise to the rank of Lieutenant General in the Army.  Along the way, Davidson played varsity football at West Point (1924-26) and later was a successful head coach there.  His first team was 9-1 and his five-year coaching record (1933-37) was 35-11-1.

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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