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

Category Archives: F

Ken Fairman


Ken Fairman (College athletics.  Born, Spring Valley, NY, Feb. 23, 1912; died, Princeton, NJ, Mar. 8, 1994.)  Princeton’s first official athletic director, R. Kenneth Fairman succeeded Asa Bushnell as graduate manager in 1938.  Fairman had been a football, basketball, and lacrosse player at Princeton.  He was also basketball coach from 1935-38 (25-38).  Fairman became the official athletic director in 1941, when the university took formal control of its athletic program.  He then served as an officer in the U.S. Army armored corps during World War II and was also mayor of Princeton (1959-63).  Fairman retired as athletic director in 1972.

Joe Falcaro


Joe Falcaro (Bowling.  Born, New York, NY, Jan. 3, 1896; died, Cedarhurst, NY, Sept. 6, 1951.)  Guiseppi (Joe) Falcaro was based in Brooklyn and became the dominant match-game bowler of the late 1920s and 1930s, holding the B.P.A.A. match-game championship for four years.  Falcaro was a flamboyant and colorful character both on and off the lanes. He brought showmanship to bowling along with Italian native Andy Varipapa.  The two formed a dominant doubles team for many years that contributed to the growth of the sport.  Falcaro first captured the B.P.A.A. title when he defeated Detroit’s Joe Scibner in 1929 and defended successfully in 1930, 1931 and 1932.  He gave up the title in 1933 for reasons unrelated to his bowling ability. He became involved in a social relationship with a lady whose husband resented his intrusion and expressed his displeasure with a bullet.  Falcaro defaulted his title to Joe Miller of Buffalo but recovered and toured the country as a famed exhibition bowler.  On Nov. 29, 1934 in Fremont, Ohio, he bowled the five best local bowlers and turned in a startling series of 279, 279, 279, 279 and 289. His five-game pinfall of 1,405 was the second highest in U.S. bowling history up to that time.  Falcaro also owned a well-known bowling establishment at 181st and Broadway adjacent to the IND subway station in the 1930s and 1940s.  Many famous bowling stars and greats of other sports including Sugar Ray Robinson bowled exhibitions there.

Dan Farrell


Dan Farrell (Photographer.  Born, Hazelton, PA, Oct. 31, 1930.)  His most famous photo was made at the funeral of President John F. Kennedy in 1963, but Daniel Boyle Farrell was foremost a sports photographer.  After several years of freelancing, Farrell became a staff photographer at the Daily News in 1955.  He worked for the News, the A.P., U.P., The New York Times, and the Long Island Press during his freelance years, but remained at the News nearly 40 years once he became full-time there.  Farrell covered the Yankees, Mets, Rangers, Football Giants, Jets, Islanders, Nets, boxing, and horse racing.  He was honored by the New York Press Photographers, the Headliners, and the Society of the Silurians, among others, and won the Eclipse Award in 1987 for his work in thoroughbred racing.  Farrell produced celebrated photographs of the Jets’ 1969 Super Bowl victory and the 1969 Mets, and was ringside for Frazier-Ali at the Garden in 1971.  But his most famous photo was of a young John Kennedy saluting his father’s coffin after the assassination of the President in 1963.

Johnny Farrell


Johnny Farrell (Golf.  Born, White Plains, NY, Apr. 1, 1901; died, Boynton Beach, FL, June 14, 1988.)  After a career that lasted some 15 years as a touring pro, Johnny Farrell achieved additional fame as the home pro at the fabled Baltrusol club in Springfield, N.J., for 38 years.  Farrell first hit the touring circuit as a teenager in 1919 and registered some of his most important victories in the New York area including the Westchester Open in 1926.  At one stage, Farrell won nine straight tournaments on the tour, a record that was eclipsed by Byron Nelson in 1945.  In 1928, Farrell gained national acclaim when he defeated the legendary Bobby Jones in a playoff to win the U.S. Open a year after he had won the Metropolitan Open at Wykagyl.  His Met Open victory came by the narrowest of margins, 296-297, over Bobby Cruickshank.  Following his U.S. Open triumph, Farrell was hired as a golf columnist by the New York Evening Journal, a post he held for several years.  Although he went off the pro tour in the mid-1930s, he continued to play the major events in the New York area and won another title in an exciting finish in 1936.  That year he defeated Vic Ghezzi to win the New Jersey Open when both tied at 286 after four rounds but Farrell won the 18-hole playoff, 71-75.  Eventually, he settled in as the club pro at Baltusrol. He brought years of experience to the task, having finished second in two U.S. Opens, two P.G.A. Championships and the British Open.

Mike Farrell


Mike Farrell (Sportswriter.  Born, New York, NY, Feb. 5, 1951.)  While he is best known as the racing writer for The Record of Hackensack, N.J., Michael Francis Farrell has also long been active in radio reporting.  Farrell has been the racing writer for The Record since 1988, covering the Triple Crown races and major events at the Meadowlands, both thoroughbred and harness.  Farrell has been the co-host since 1992 of “Racing from the Meadowlands” on FOX Sports New York.  He has also been a reporter for U.P.I. Audio and many other outlets, in which field he has been president of Broadcast Sports since 1985.

Jim Fassel


Jim Fassel (Pro Football.  Born Anaheim, CA, Aug. 31, 1949.)  In 1997, Jim Fassel became an N.F.L. head coach for the first time after serving as an assistant with the Giants (1991-92), Denver (1993-94), Oakland (1995), and Arizona (1996), primarily as an offensive coordinator.  The 16th head coach in the team’s 75-year history, his first Giants team was 10-5-1, winners of the N.F.C. East, but lost a heartbreaking 23-22 first-round playoff game to Minnesota.  In 1998, after a slow start, the Giants won five of their last six games to finish 8-8 and just missed another playoff berth.  Prior to coming into the N.F.L., Fassel had served as an assistant coach at Fullerton (Calif.) College, Utah (where he was later head coach), Weber State, and Stanford, as well as Hawaii of the World Football League and New Orleans of the U.S.F.L.  In 1997, he won virtually every pro football Coach of the Year award, including A.P., The Sporting News, and Pro Football Writers.  In 1999, the Giants lost their last three games to finish 7-9 and hand Fassel his first losing season as head coach.  A year later, the Giants were 12-4, winning their last five games after Fassel’s now-famous “guarantee” that the team would make the playoffs, and reached the Super Bowl.  The Giants missed the playoffs with a 7-9 mark in 2001 but returned in 2002, winning their last four games to finish 10-6 and earn a wild card berth.  Following a 4-12 season that ended with eight straight losses, Fassel was dismissed.  He was 58-53-1 in seven seasons.

Minnesota Fats


Minnesota Fats (Billiards.  Born, New York, NY, Jan. 19, 1913; died, Nashville, TN, Jan. 16, 1996.)  Rudolph Wanderone (originally Wanderon) was a unique American original.  He was perhaps the most famous billiards player in the world, even though he never won a formal world championship.  Yet he was almost solely responsible for the resurgent growth of interest in the sport over the last 30 years of the 20th century.  Born in Manhattan, Wanderone began at a very tender age a career as a pool player.  He acquired the nickname of “Brooklyn Fats” as a youngster owing to his size.  As his orbit increased during his jaunts around the world, he became known as “New York Fats.”  Married in 1941, Fats went into a retirement of sorts in 1951.  Ten years later, “the Hustler,” a movie he claimed was based loosely on his adventures, was produced, starring Jackie Gleason as “Minnesota Fats.”  He became a major television celebrity and returned to his familiar haunts in pool parlors around the world, hustling and promoting non-stop.  Billiards received its biggest boost when Fats engaged former world champion Willie Mosconi in a match on national television in 1978.  While he was never a tournament champion, no other individual did as much to promote and popularize billiards as “Minnesota Fats.”

Bob Federspiel


Bob Federspiel (College football.  Born, Philadelphia, Penna., May 26, 1939.)  An end for Columbia, Robert William Federspiel had 55 receptions for 765 yards in three seasons (1958-60) and held the Ivy League record for most catches in a game with eight for 153 yards against Cornell, Oct. 29, 1960 (since broken).

Charley Feeney


Charley Feeney (Sportswriter.  Born, Brooklyn, NY, Nov. 26, 1924.)  Unrelated to the team’s vice president (Charles S. Feeney), Charles V. Feeney covered two Giants pennant-winning teams for the Long Island Star-Journal and the Long Island Press.  Feeney broke in as a 16-year-old messenger at The Sun in 1940 and joined the Star-Journal after service with the U.S. Navy (1942-46) during World War II.  He covered the Giants from 1951 to 1957 (when the club moved to San Francisco), and then followed the Yankees on a semi-regular basis until 1964, when he shifted to the New York Journal-American.  After that paper folded in 1966, Feeney went to Pittsburgh, covering the Pirates for 21 seasons before he retired in Dec. 1986.

Chub Feeney


Chub Feeney (Baseball.  Born, Orange, NJ, Aug. 31, 1921; died, San Francisco, CA, Jan. 10, 1994.)  A deceptively bright and warmly charming man, Charles Stoneham Feeney was the nephew of New York Giants owner Horace Stoneham.  A graduate of Dartmouth and Fordham Law School, Feeney became vice president of the Giants in 1946.  After the team moved to San Francisco following the 1957 season, he assumed the title of general manager, a job he had been doing de facto for several seasons.  The Giants won the N.L. pennant in 1951 and 1954, sweeping the World Series in the latter year, and added another (1962) pennant in San Francisco.  Feeney was elected 11th president of the National League in 1969, took office Jan. 1, 1970, and held the position until Dec. 31, 1986, 16 full seasons (second-longest tenure ever).  During his years, he lobbied successfully for seven-game league championship series (originally it was best three-of-five), moved the league office to New York from San Francisco Mar. 18, 1977, kept the designated hitter out of the N.L. and fiercely defended the league’s autonomy.

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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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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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