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

Category Archives: G

John Ganzel

John Ganzel (Baseball.  Born, Kalamazoo, MI, Apr. 7, 1874; died, Orlando, FL, Jan. 14, 1959.)  A journeyman first baseman who saw service with the Giants (1901) and the Highlanders (1903-04), John Henry Ganzel also briefly managed the F.L. club in Brooklyn.  Ganzel became the Tip Tops’ last manager when he succeeded Lee Magee and finished the 1915 season.  He was 17-18 and at the end of the season the F.L. went out of business.

Joe Garagiola

Joe Garagiola (Baseball.  Born, St. Louis, MO, Feb. 12, 1926.)  While he is far more famous as a broadcaster, Joseph Henry Garagiola had a respectable nine-year career as a major league catcher.  When he turned to broadcasting, Garagiola joined NBC’s “Game of the Week” telecasts in 1961.  He remained part of that package through 1988.  Along the way, Garagiola spent three seasons (1965-67) as a Yankees broadcaster before going to the “Today” show.  His playing career was spent entirely in the N.L., mostly with St. Louis (1946-51) and Pittsburgh (1951-53), but it also included five games with the 1954 Giants.  Garagiola hit .257 in 676 games.

Aaron Garcia

Aaron Garcia (Pro football.  Born, Albuquerque, NM, Oct. 28, 1970.)  A slight 6’1” quarterback from Sacramento (Calif.) State, Aaron Garcia became the greatest passer in the history of the Arena Football League.  After playing for four A.F.L. teams in four years, including most of two seasons with the now-defunct New Jersey Red Dogs (1997-98), Garcia was traded to the Iowa Barnstormers June 2, 1998, after the fifth week of the A.F.L. season, once Kurt Warner left Iowa to play for St. Louis of the N.F.L.  In 2001, Iowa moved to Nassau Coliseum after the team was sold to Charles Wang and two partners.  In his two full years with Iowa, Garcia threw 160 touchdown passes in 28 games, including 92 in 2000.  In his first year as quarterback of the now-Dragons, he threw 104, a league record, in 2001, the first passer to break the century mark.  On July 7 against Carolina, he threw for 11 scores as the Dragons won a record-setting game, 99-68.  Garcia passed for 4,515 yards in 14 games that season.  Garcia took his own stab at the N.F.L. (with San Francisco) in 2002 but returned to the Dragons for the final five games of that season.  In 2003, he threw 100 touchdown passes and became the first quarterback ever to throw for over 500 in an A.F.L. career.  He played his first A.F.L. season with Arizona in 1995, spent a year with Connecticut, and then joined New Jersey.  In 2005, he collected his 700th career touchdown pass.  Garcia holds all of Sacramento State’s meaningful passing records.  All told, he played eight seasons for the Dragons (2001-08), throwing 570 touchdown passes.  The Arena Football League suspended operations in 2009 and when it restated in 2010, without a New York team, Garcia found himself on expansion Jacksonville, which he led to the A.F.L. title in 2011.

Rich Garcia

Rich Garcia (Baseball.  Born, Key West, FL, May 22, 1942.)  One of the better A.L. umpires during his career, Richard Raul Garcia will always be coupled with Jeffrey Maier whenever his name is mentioned.  Garcia umpired 25 seasons (1975-99) in the A.L., twice worked the All-Star Game, four times the World Series and six times the A.L. championship series.  It was his last A.L.C.S. (1996) that sticks in memory.  In the eighth inning of the first game against Baltimore at Yankee Stadium, rookie Derek Jeter lofted a fly to deep right.  The ball disappeared with a swipe of the glove of the 12-year-old Maier, who reached out from the stands as rightfielder Tony Tarasco reached up at the wall in full stretch to try to catch it.  Garcia, the foul line umpire in right field, called it a homer to tie the game at 4-4.  The Yankees won, 5-4, in 11 innings, took the series in five games, and went on to win the World Series.  Garcia later admitted that replays showed Maier reaching out into the field of play.  He also admitted that he didn’t see that at the time.  Garcia’s admissions were typical of the Marine veteran, who always faced the press after tough calls.  He was one of 22 umpires who submitted their resignations in support of the umpires’ “original” union in July 1999, and he was not rehired.  Instead, he became an umpire supervisor in the Commissioner’s Office in 2002.  Garcia had World Series assignments in 1981, 1984, 1989, and 1998, and umpired All-Star Games in 1980 and 1992.

Danny Gardella

Danny Gardella (Baseball.  Born, The Bronx, NY, Feb. 26, 1920; died, Yonkers, NY, Mar. 6, 2005.)  Far better known as the man who nearly brought down the reserve clause in 1949, Daniel Lewis Gardella was an outfielder with the wartime Giants.  Gardella had a spotty minor league career with six teams (1939-42) before becoming a shipyard worker.  He tried out for the Giants and made the club, depleted as it was by military callups, in 1944.  Gardella started at Jersey City and split his season between there and the Giants.  He hit .226 with six homers in 66 games with the Li’l Giants and .250 with six homers in 47 games with the parent club.  A lefthanded hitter and mediocre fielder, Gardella got a chance to play regularly in 1945 when manpower hit rock bottom.  He was in 121 games, batted .272, and hit 18 home runs.  However, Gardella assumed that war’s end would mean his end in the big leagues.  He thus joined 17 other major leaguers who jumped to the Mexican League in 1946.  Commissioner Happy Chandler issued a lifetime ban against all jumpers.  In due course, Gardella and the others sought reinstatement, were rebuffed, and sued.  Most accepted $5,000 cash offers to drop suits, but Gardella persisted and on Feb. 10, 1949, a three-year Federal appeals panel found in his favor.  The case appeared headed for the Supreme Court.  Gardella’s lawyer, Fred Johnson, accused baseball of conspiracy and restraint of trade.  In June 1949, Chandler lifted the ban and several players returned to the majors.  Gardella sought $100,000, which would have been trebled had he won.  Fearful of losing, the big league clubs offered him $60,000 to drop the suit scheduled for trial in November.  On Oct. 8, 1949, Chandler announced an out-of-court settlement.  Ultimately, Johnson got $31,000 and Gardella $29,000.  His contract was then sold to St. Louis and he flied out in his one at-bat for the Cardinals before being farmed out to Houston.  In 1951, Gardella played some for the semipro Bushwicks.  Thanks to the anti-trust case, his fame far exceeded his playing ability.

Robert Gardner

Robert Gardner (Golf, track, racquets.  Born, Hinsdale, IL, Apr. 9, 1890; died, Lake Forest, IL, June 21, 1956.)  Perhaps the only man ever to win major championships in three significant sports, Robert Gardner was a Yale graduate who was four times a finalist in the national amateur golf championship.  Gardner won the golf title in 1909 and 1915 while being the runner-up in 1916 and 1922.  As an undergraduate at Yale, he was the I.C.4A. pole vault winner in 1912 at 13’1”, becoming the first to clear 13’ in competition.  In 1926, he paired with Howard Linn to win the racquets national doubles title.

Jim Garrett

Jim Garrett (Football.  Born, Rutherford, N.J., June 19, 1930.)  Coming off an 0-9 season and having lost 11 games in a row, Columbia hired James W. Garrett as its head football coach in December 1984.  Garrett came to the Ivy League school after nearly two decades (1966-84) as a coach, scout, and administrator in the N.F.L., the prior seven with the original Cleveland Browns.  Included in his N.F.L. service were four seasons (1970-73) as an assistant coach with the Giants.  Garrett had also been a college coach at Susquehanna (1960-65), where his teams were 39-13-1, including a 22-18 victory at Temple Nov. 16, 1963.  His tenure at Columbia, however, was marked by both failure and controversy.  After opening the 1985 season with a 49-17 loss to Harvard (Columbia had led, 17-0, in the third quarter), Garrett called his team “drug-addicted losers” and later referred to the players as “a bunch of pencil-necks.”  In addition to stunning staid Ivy administrators, his remarks destroyed the team’s morale.  The Lions finished 0-10 (en route to a then-record Div. I 44-game losing streak) and Garrett was fired at the end of the season.  All three of his sons, including Jason, later an N.F.L. quarterback and head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, transferred to Princeton from Columbia.

Jason Garrett

Jason Garrett (Football.  Born, Abington, PA, Mar. 28, 1966.)  A star quarterback at Princeton, Jason C. Garrett had an 11-year career in the N.F.L., including four seasons (2000-03) with the Giants.  Garrett enrolled at Princeton, started as the freshman team quarterback in 1984, and then transferred to Columbia when his father, Jim was hired as head coach there.  His father was fired after an 0-10 season and Garrett returned to Princeton, losing a year’s eligibility.  At Princeton, he was Ivy League Player of the Year in 1988, captaining a 6-4 Tigers team (which, ironically, lost to Columbia 16-13, a win that ended the Lions’ then-record 44-game losing streak).  That year, Garrett completed 204 passes for 2,217 yards and 12 touchdowns with just three interceptions.  In two seasons, he finished second on Princeton’s career passing list with 4,274 yards, including a 309-yard game against Lehigh in 1987.  Garrett later played for San Antonio of the W.L.A.F. and Ottawa of the C.F.L. (1991), and then for Dallas (1993-99), and the Giants as a backup and placekick holder.  He later succeeded Wade Phillips as head coach of the the N.F.L.’s Dallas Cowboys.

Mark Gastineau

Mark Gastineau (Pro football.  Born, Ardmore, OK, Nov. 20, 1956.)  A standout defensive end for the Jets (1979-88), Mark Gastineau was a major part of the so-called “New York Sack Exchange.”  Gastineau was the Jets’ No. 2 draft pick in 1979 and played all 16 games as a rookie but started only once.  He became a regular in 1980 and had his first outstanding season in the following year, when he had 20 sacks.  In 1984, he had 22, setting at N.F.L. record later broken in suspicious fashion by the Giants’ Michael Strahan.  He finished with 107½ career sacks and twice scored touchdowns on recovered fumbles.  He was famous with fans (and loathed by opposing linemen and some teammates) for his theatrics after sacks.  Gastineau’s later years were somewhat troubled with divorces, abuse accusations, and assault charges keeping his name in the news.  He had a boxing career, winning a dozen bouts against insignificant opposition.

Pop Gates

Pop Gates (Pro basketball.  Born, Decatur, GA, Aug. 30, 1917; died, New York, NY, Dec. 1, 1999.)  A legendary name in the early days of emerging black players in basketball, William Gates moved to New York as a youngster and established his reputation on Ben Franklin H.S.’s integrated team.  After a P.S.A.L. championship in his senior year (1938), Gates enrolled briefly at Atlanta’s Clark College but began playing that year for the famed Renaissance Big Five.  The Rens were one of the top touring teams in pro basketball in the days before World War II and won the World Pro Championship tournament in Chicago the following spring.  Subsequently, Gates joined the Grumman Flyers (1941-43), the Washington Bears (1943-45), Grumman Hellcats (1945-46), and Buffalo in the N.B.L. in 1946.  He was one of four black players in the pro circuit that season (the team shifted to Moline, Ill., as the Tri-Cities Blackhawks early in the season) but all four were out of the N.B.L. after that season.  This is partially because Gates became the focal point of a fight with the Syracuse Nationals.  He then rejoined the Rens, who moved into the N.B.L. as a unit in 1948-49 with Gates as player-coach of the team based in Dayton, Ohio.  The N.B.L. merged into the Basketball Association of America to form the N.B.A. in the summer of 1949 and Gates went to the Harlem Globetrotters for five years before retiring in 1955.  A tough 6’3”, Gates estimated he had played in over 1,500 pro games.  He later worked for the City of New York Department of Social Services.

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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