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

Category Archives: G

Al Groh


Al Groh (Pro football.  Born, New York, NY, July 13, 1944.)  Al Groh became head football coach of the Jets on Jan. 24, 2000, after Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick had resigned within a day of each other earlier in the same month.  Groh coached the Jets to a 9-7 record, but lost his last three games and missed the playoffs.  He, too, then resigned on Dec. 29 to become head coach at the University of Virginia, where he had won four letters as a defensive end.  Groh was an assistant at several colleges (including Army, 1968-69) and head coach at Wake Forest (1981-86).  He was also linebackers coach for the Giants (1988-90) and their defensive coordinator (1991).  Groh joined the Jets in 1997, when Parcells and most of his staff moved from New England, handling linebackers for three seasons before circumstances made him head coach.

Will Grimsley


Will Grimsley (Sportswriter.  Born, Monterey, TN, Jan. 27, 1914; died, East Meadow, NY, Oct. 31, 2002.)  A star reporter and columnist, Will Henry Grimsley wrote for The Associated Press for 45 years (1943-88).  Grimsley was hired by the A.P. in Nashville, Tenn., in 1943 and moved to the New York sports desk in 1947.  He covered 15 Olympics, 35 World Series, and 25 Kentucky Derbies.  Grimsley also covered numerous other major events, including the Indianapolis 500, the Super Bowl, the Masters, Wimbledon, U.S. Open tennis, and heavyweight championship fights.  He covered World Cup golf in Australia, Hawaii, Ireland, Japan, and Mexico.  Grimsley went to Australia 12 times to cover Davis Cup tennis, Zaire for the Ali-Foreman fight (1974), and the Philippines for Ali-Frazier III (1975).  In 1969, Grimsley became the first sportswriter ever designated a special correspondent by the A.P.  He began writing a column entitled “Grimsley’s Sports World” in 1977, which he continued until his retirement.  Grimsley won the prestigious Red Smith Award in1987 and was four times named “Sports Writer of the Year” by the N.S.S.A. (1978, 1980, 1981, 1983).  In 1972, he covered the massacre of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics by dressing as an Olympic official.  Grimsley wrote four books, one each on golf, tennis, and college football, and 101 Greatest Athletes of the Century (1987).  He was also supervising editor of two A.P. sports books.

Burleigh Grimes


Burleigh Grimes (Baseball.  Born, Emerald, WI, Aug. 18, 1893; died, Clear Lake, WI, Dec. 6, 1985.)  Of the nine spitball pitchers allowed to ply their messy trade legally after the 1919 season, Burleigh Arland Grimes made the biggest impression, pitching for all three New York teams of his time.  Grimes spent most of his best years with Brooklyn (1918-26), winning 20 games four times, but had a 19-win season in his only year (1927) with the Giants and appeared in the final 10 games of his 19-year career (1916-34) with the Yankees.  He helped pitch Brooklyn to the 1920 N.L. pennant when he was 23-11, led the N.L. with 22 wins in 1921, and nearly pitched the Dodgers into the World Series in 1924 when he was 22-13.  Combined with Dazzy Vance (28-6), Grimes accounted for 50 of the Dodgers’ 92 wins as they finished  1½ games behind the Giants.  “Ol’ Stubblebeard” joined the Giants as part of a three-team deal (Jan. 9, 1927) and was 19-8 for John McGraw’s club but then was traded to Pittsburgh (Feb. 11, 1928) for righthander Vic Aldridge.  Grimes was 270-212 for his career (158-121 for Brooklyn) and 1-2 in the 1920 World Series for the Dodgers.  He also pitched for N.L. pennant winners in St. Louis (1930-31) and Chicago (1932) before making his only A.L. appearances for the 1934 Yankees.  Following his playing career, Grimes had a long succession of managing jobs, mostly in the minors.  He managed the Dodgers for two years (1937-38) in Brooklyn and their top minor league club in Montreal in 1939.  Grimes was 130-171 as the Brooklyn skipper.

Emile Griffith


Emile Griffith (Boxing.  Born, St. Thomas, V.I., Feb. 3, 1938.)  Emile Alphonse Griffith never sought a boxing career and had it started for him by his employer in a hat factory when his boss entered him in the Daily News Golden Gloves.  But he turned out to be one of the most active and proficient of the modern-day champions.  In a career that stretched from 1958 to 1977, Griffith logged 112 pro fights and had 45 of them in New York.  During the years from 1961 to 1965, he three times held the welterweight title.  His career as a pro began on June 2, 1958, when he won a four-round decision over Joe Parham. He fought his next 12 fights in New York as well, and won them all before his 13-0 record enabled him a match with veteran Randy Sandy.  Griffith lost a 10-round decision to Sandy on Oct. 26, 1959, but then reeled off 10 more wins in a row (all in New York) to force himself back into the championship picture. On April 25, 1966, he defeated Dick Tiger in a bruising 15-rounder at Madison Square Garden for the middleweight title.  He returned to the Garden less than three months later for a successful defense against Joey Archer in a real crowd-pleaser and won another 15-round decision over Archer in January, 1967, at the Garden.  He lost the title to Nino Benvenuti on April 17, 1967, at the Garden but regained it Sept. 29 with a 15-round verdict over Benvenuti in one of only two major fight cards ever held at Shea Stadium. His career record showed 85 wins (23 by knockout), 24 losses, two draws and one no contest.  A motion picture about Griffith was released in April 2005, focused on the Mar. 24, 1962, bout at the Garden in which Benny (Kid) Paret (q.v.) suffered fatal injuries.

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.

Rosey Grier


Rosey Grier (Pro football.  Born, Cuthbert, GA, July 19, 1932.)  Once an N.C.A.A. shot put champion at Penn State, Roosevelt Grier became a standout defensive tackle for seven seasons with the Giants.  Grier was the Giants’ No. 3 draft pick in 1955 and had an impressive rookie season.  He was even better the next year as the Giants won the N.F.L. championship and Grier wound up in the Pro Bowl.  In 1957, he was in military service but returned the following season.  Grier played for Giants teams that won East Division titles in 1958, 1959, 1961, and 1962.  Before training camp opened in 1963, Grier was traded to the Los Angeles Rams for defensive tackle John LoVetere, who played 14 games in 1963 but was limited by injury to eight games, total, in 1964-65 and retired.  Grier played every game for four seasons (1963-66) in Los Angeles.

Wayne Gretzky


Wayne Gretzky (Hockey.  Born, Brantford, Ont., Jan. 26, 1961.)  Already the greatest scorer in N.H.L. history, Wayne Gretzky signed with the Rangers as a free agent July 21, 1996, reuniting with his former Edmonton teammate Mark Messier, and together they helped the Rangers to the Stanley Cup semifinals in his first year with the club.  Though not the offensive force he had been when he led the Oilers to four Stanley Cups in five seasons during the 1980s, he topped the league in assists his first year with the Rangers and tied for the league lead in his second.  His 72 assists in 1996-97 equaled Messier’s team record for most assists by a center in one season.  In his three years with the Rangers, he scored 249 points (57 goals) in 234 games.  In the 1997 playoffs, he had 20 points (10 goals) in 15 games, including a memorable natural hat trick in the second period of the fourth game of the opening round against Florida at the Garden as the Rangers won, 3-2.  The Rangers missed the playoffs his last two seasons with the team.  Gretzky got an assist in his last N.H.L. game, a 2-1 overtime loss to Pittsburgh at the Garden. – J.S.

Ron Greschner


Ron Greschner (Hockey.  Born, Goodsoil, Sask., Dec. 22, 1954.)  When the Rangers entered their period of consistently making the playoffs in the late 1970s, among the reasons for their consistency was Ron Greschner.  Greschner joined the Rangers near the end of the Emile Francis era as a slick, 19-year-old offensive defenseman and evolved into an occasional left wing and finally to a steady defensive presence.  Greschner helped 12 Rangers teams qualify for the playoffs in his 16-year career.  He played 982 games, all with the Rangers, scoring 610 points (179 goals).  When the Rangers reached the Stanley Cup Final in 1979, Greschner had seven goals in 18 games, including three game-winners.  Despite more than his share of injuries (including back problems that limited his mobility), he played 50 or more games in 13 seasons.  Greschner played in the 1980 N.H.L. All-Star Game in the midst of his best period as a scorer.  He had 24 goals and 72 points in 1977-78 and 27 goals with 68 points in 1980-81.  Greschner scored 20 or more goals in a season four times.  He married (and later divorced) supermodel Carol Alt, who was a regular at the Garden during their time together and would, in impromptu sessions, stand and sign autographs in the first row behind the goal between periods.

Theresa Grentz


Theresa Grentz (College basketball.  Born, Glenolden, PA, Mar. 24, 1952.)  Coming to Rutgers in 1976, Theresa Shank Grentz built the Lady Knights into a national powerhouse.  Grentz led Rutgers to one national championship and built another team that challenged for the title.  In 19 seasons (1976-95), she compiled a record of 434-150 at Rutgers, where she came after two seasons at St. Joseph’s (Philadelphia).  Grentz moved to Illinois in 1995.  In 1982, Rutgers won the last A.I.A.W. championship, beating Texas, 83-77, at Philadelphia.  The team finished 25-7.  The Lady Knights had made the national A.I.A.W. semifinal in 1979 but lost to Tennessee.  From 1986 to 1988, the Lady Knights had a two-year record of 57-8 built around three-time all-American Sue Wicks.  The 30-3 team of 1986-87 and the 27-5 team the next season qualified for the N.C.A.A. tournament but failed to survive the regionals.  Grentz, as Theresa Shank, had been a dominant player for Immaculata when the small Philadelphia school was the national champion (A.I.A.W., 1972-74) and coached St. Joseph’s from 1974-76.

George Gregory


George Gregory (College basketball.  Born, New York, NY, Nov. 22, 1906; died, New York, NY, May 11, 1994.)  As a slender 6’4” from DeWitt Clinton H.S., George Gregory, Jr., came to Columbia as a natural center.  Gregory left after a three-year varsity career (1928-31) as the first black accorded all-America honors.  Described as “graceful” and considered a good shooter for the time, he led the Lions to E.I.B.L. championships in both his junior and senior seasons.  Gregory was E.I.B.L. first team all-League in each of his varsity seasons, although he never led the league in scoring.  He was a feared defensive and rebounding presence who, thanks to endemic racial discrimination, had no realistic chance for a pro career.  Columbia was 48-16 in his three seasons, 21-2 in 1930-31.

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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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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