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

Category Archives: G

Kid Gavilan

Kid Gavilan (Boxing.  Born, Camaguey, Cuba, Jan. 6, 1926; died, Miami, FL, Feb. 13, 2003.)  At age 17, Kid Gavilan began a professional boxing career in Havana in 1943 that would lead him eventually to New York and the world welterweight championship.  Gavilan’s first New York fight came after the second World War ended and he scored a five-round knockout over Johnny Ryan Nov. 1, 1946, in the first of 27 appearances in New York.  He earned a fight with Sugar Ray Robinson by 1949 but lost a tough 15-round decision. However, less than two years later, Gavilan defeated Johnny Bratton in a 15-round decision to win the vacant title on May 18, 1951.  He successfully defended against Billy Graham Aug. 19 that year and made six more defenses of his crown outside of New York through the end of 1953.  In 1954, Gavilan challenged for the middleweight title but lost in 15 to Carl (Bobo) Olson in Chicago on April 2.  He finally relinquished the welterweight championship on Oct. 20 that year in a 15-round loss to Johnny Saxton in Philadelphia.  Gavilan continued to fight for nearly four more years, losing a 10-round decision to Yama Bahama in Miami on June 18, 1958.  Born Geraldo Gonzalez, Gavilan became a leading exponent of the “bolo punch,” a hard uppercut preceded by a quick windup.  Although Gavilan became noted for the “bolo,” he actually copied it from Ceferino Garcia, a pre-war middleweight champion.  During his 143-bout career, Gavilan won 106 (including 27 by knockout), lost 30 and drew six and had one no-decision.

Lou Gehrig

Lou Gehrig (College baseball.  Born, New York, NY, June 19, 1903; died, New York, NY, June 6, 1941.)  Before launching a major league caeer that made him perhaps the greatest first basemen in baseball history, Henry Louis Gehrig first came to notice of New York sports fans while starring for Commerce H.S. in Manhattan but one of the major steps up the ladder was his performance for Columbia University.  His family decided that Gehrig should go to the best college available to him and his mother literally did domestic work in order to enable him to attend Columbia.  In those days, freshmen were not eligible for varsity competition but Gehrig made the football team in 1922 as an interior lineman.  In 1923, Gehrig became the first baseman for the varsity baseball team and although the Lions were only 10-8-1 for the season, Gehrig’s performance was outstanding.  He batted .444 in 19 games, scoring 24 runs, hitting seven home runs and racking up 59 total bases.  Gehrig began to play in the minors on a regular basis after a 13-game tour in the summer of 1923 with the Yankees.  While at Columbia, he also tried his hand at pitching for the pitching-poor Lions. His best performance came on April 18, 1923 against Williams when he struck out 17 men in eight innings and didn’t allow a hit until the eighth but Williams won anyway, 5-1.  Most of Gehrig’s Columbia records stood until the 1980s when they were broken by Gene Larkin, who moved on to become a regular with the Minnesota Twins and the first Lion to play in the majors since Gehrig retired May 1, 1939.  He reached the Yankees to stay in 1925 and by the time his famous illness forced his retirement May 1, 1939, he had played 2,164 games, had 8,001 at-bats, amassed 2,721 hits (534 doubles and 163 triples), driven in 1,996 runs – all records at the time and some to this day.  He also hit 493 homers, batted .340, and scored 1,888 runs, putting him second on the Yankees all-time lists at the time.  He still holds the A.L. single-season r.b.i. record (1984 in 1931), won the Triple Crown in 1934, hit four homers in a game (against the A’s at Philadelphia June 3, 1932), and had an OPS of 1.208 in 34 games over seven World Series, the last six of which the Yankees won, going 24-3 in the process.  He was the Yankees captain from April 21, 1935, until his death (two years after his retirement) and embodied the quiet professional excellence that has since symbolized the best of the Yankees franchise.

Ike Gellis

Ike Gellis (Sports editor.  Born, New York, NY, Jan. 5, 1908; died, Nyack, NY, Apr. 28, 1988.)  Although Isaac Gellis never considered himself a writer of sports or anything else, he was an extraordinarily fine judge of talent and during his 30 years as sports editor of the New York Post, the paper had what was considered the finest sports section in New York. Gellis succeeded Leonard Cohen as sports editor in 1948 and built a staff that included such notables as Milton Gross, Paul Zimmerman, Larry Merchant, Gene Roswell, Jerry Mitchell, Maury Allen, Leonard Schechter, Leonard Koppett, Arch Murray, Leonard Lewin and Cohen during the years before his retirement in 1978.  Gellis actually spent a half-century with the Post, joining the paper as a soccer and boxing writer in 1928.  He was particularly fond of boxing and racing, and of his boxing writers, such as Al Buck and Lester Bromberg, and racing writers, such as Manny Kalisch.  During his years at the Post, Gellis worked in the sales and mechanical departments and spent time on the business side before becoming sports editor.  In fact, he met his wife in Chicago, where she was working for the Chicago Tribune while he was representing a line of books being distributed by the Post.  But it is as the shaper and molder of a sports section that spoke New York’s language to New Yorkers that Ike Gellis is particularly remembered.  He possessed a sense of what his readers wanted and the ability to select a staff to give it to them.

Frankie Gennaro

Frankie Gennaro (Boxing.  Born, New York, NY, Aug. 26, 1901; died, New York, NY, Dec. 27, 1966.)  Under his real name, Frank DiGennara, he won the 1920 Olympic gold medal when the flyweight class was revived for the Antwerp Games.  At those Games, Gennaro gained a decision over Anders Petersen of Denmark that provided the springboard to a 14-year pro career (1920-34) during which he was the world flyweight champion (1928-31).  During his pro career, Gennaro fought in Spain, France, Italy, Great Britain, and Canada (where he won the title).  He was 83-22-9 with 15 no-decisions in his 129 pro bouts, which included 24 fights in New York, three in Jersey City, two each in Brooklyn and Newark, as well as appearances in Rockaway, Red Bank, N.J., and Harrison, N.J.

William George

William George (College football.  Born, Scroggsville, OH, July 30, 1861; died, West Palm Beach, FL, Sept. 15, 1933.)  A guard at Princeton (1885-89), William J. George was selected for the First Team on the first all-America selections made by Walter Camp in 1889.  George was later a long-time coach and teacher at Lawrenceville (N.J.) School.

Franco Georgetti

Franco Georgetti (Bicycle racing.  Born, Bovisio Mombello, Italy, Oct. 3, 1902; died, Rome, Italy, Mar. 18, 1983.)  Over a period of nearly 15 years, one of the most popular and consistent of the six-day bicycle race riders in Madison Square Garden was Franco Georgetti. The rugged Italian won eight of the 144-hour grinds with five different partners from 1926 to 1935.  One of Georgetti’s first partners was the legendary Alfred Goullet with whom he finished fourth in the Mar. 1924 race at the second Garden on Madison Square. But his most profitable pairings were with Reggie McNamara and Gerard Debaets.  Partnering with McNamara, Georgetti won the Mar. 1926 and Mar. 1927 six-day events.  In 1927, the team had to scramble home in a wild finish with three teams only one lap behind after 2,340.9 miles. Georgetti finished fourth with McNamara in Dec. 1927, and then began his flourishing combination with Belgium’s Debaets. In their first pairing, Georgetti and Debaets won the Mar. 1928 race (2,162.9 miles). That victory started a string of four successive Garden six-days in which Georgetti was on the winning team.  With Debaets unavailable, Georgetti won his fourth win in a row in Dec. 1929. He won for the seventh time in Dec. 1930, as part of an all-Italian team with Paul Brocardo in another wild finish. That team logged 2,666.9 miles in the six days, the most ever for a Georgetti team. His eighth and final career win at the Garden came in Mar. 1935 with Alf Letourner of France as his partner.

Eddie Gerard

Eddie Gerard (Hockey.  Born, Ottawa, Ont., Feb. 22, 1890; died, Ottawa, Ont., Aug. 7, 1937.)  A star with the original Ottawa Senators in the N.H.A. and N.H.L. (1913-23), Edward George Gerard coached the Americans for two seasons (1929-31).  Gerard previously was bench coach for the Montreal Maroons, winning the Stanley Cup in 1926.  He was the coach who refused to let the Rangers substitute a goalie in the stands for the injured Lorne Chabot in the 1928 Cup Final, forcing New York coach and general manager Lester Patrick to play goal in Game 2 of that series.  Gerard was also a standout football player for Ottawa (1909-13) in the old Ontario Rugby Football Union.  His Americans teams were 32-41-15.

Joe Gergen

Joe Gergen (Sportswriter.  Born, Brooklyn, NY, Aug. 9, 1942.)  Since becoming a Newsday sports columnist in 1975, Joseph Arthur Gergen has three times been named one of the nation’s top five columnists by the A.P. sports editors.  Gergen has won numerous other awards, including National Headliners, and had nine pieces selected for the Best Sports Stories anthology.  He started his sportswriting career with U.P.I. in New York in 1963, where he spent five years, gradually covering more major events in baseball, football, and basketball, among other sports.  Gergen moved to Newsday as a sportswriter in 1968.  He served as chairman of the New York chapter of the B.B.W.A.A. in 1977-78 and has written several books, including a history of the N.C.A.A. Final Four basketball championships.

Ken Germann

Ken Germann (College football.  Born, Brooklyn, NY, Apr. 16, 1921; died, Richmond, VA, Aug. 24, 2005.)  An end who once caught a 76-yard touchdown pass for Columbia, Kenneth George Germann became the school’s third athletic director (1968-74) following Ralph Furey’s retirement.  Germann had been head football coach and athletic director at Iona Prep (1946-57), the Columbia freshman football coach (1957-61), and assistant director of athletics at Rutgers (1961-68).  He caught what was then a school record reception from Paul Governali against Dartmouth (Nov. 21, 1942), but Columbia lost the game.

Vitas Gerulaitis

Vitas Gerulaitis (Tennis.  Born, Brooklyn, NY, July 26, 1954; died, Southampton, NY, Sept. 18, 1994.)  Leaving Columbia after his freshman year to turn pro was a good decision for Vitas K. Gerulaitis, although it generated some condemnation at the time.  By 1977, Gerulaitis had broken into the top 10 money winners on the pro tour, when he earned $294,324.  A fan favorite with long, curly blond hair, he played the U.S. Open continuously for 15 years (1971-85) and had a 34-15 record.  Gerulaitis made the final in 1979, losing to John McEnroe, 7-5, 6-3, 6-3.  He became a regular on the U.S. Davis Cup squad in 1976, helping the U.S. win in 1979 when he took both his final singles against Italy.  Gerulaitis twice won the Italian singles title (1977, 1979) and won the Australian Open in 1978.  His sister, Ruta, was also a touring pro who married Pancho Gonzalez.  Gerulaitis died of carbon monoxide poisoning as the apparent result of a faulty gas heater in a friend’s home.

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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