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

Category Archives: K

Deb Kaufman

Deb Kaufman Placey (Sportscaster.  Born, St. Louis, MO, Aug. 17, 1966.)  Inspired by pioneer ESPN anchor Gayle Gardner, Deb Kaufman set out to become a sports anchor, joining ESPN as a production assistant in 1988.  Starting in 1990, Kaufman moved to four broadcast stations in just over three years, going from Marion, Ill., to WPRI-TV in Providence, R.I. (1991), to WSVN-TV (FOX) in Miami, Fla. (1992).  By 1993, she was back at ESPN as a reporter and an anchor on the new ESPN2.  In August 1995, Kaufman moved to MSG Network as a pre- and post-game host and anchor on “SportsDesk.”  She worked the Knicks, Rangers, and Yankees regularly and, starting in 1998, began filling the same roles on FOX Sports New York.  In 2003, Kaufman began as a fill-in sports anchor on WNBC-TV (Ch. 4), backing up Len Berman and Bruce Beck.  In 2001, she began covering the Islanders for MSG and in 2011, she became a reporter for Devils games on the MSG Network and MSG Plus.

Michael Kay

Michael Kay (Sportscaster.  Born, The Bronx, NY, Feb. 2, 1961.)  A sportswriter-turned-broadcaster, Michael Kay became an integral part of the Yankees after joining veteran John Sterling as their radio tandem on WABC in 1992.  A 1982 graduate of Fordham, Kay joined the New York Post that year as a general news reporter, moving to sports two years later.  In 1987, he became the Post’s Yankees beat writer and kept that assignment when he switched to the Daily News in 1989.  After five years on the Yankees beat, Kay, a nephew of actor Danny Aiello, became a radio voice.  Although Kay and Sterling had critics who disliked their in-game digressions, they were enormously popular with Yankees fans and inspired intense loyalty.  In 2002, Kay moved to the YES Network as the lead play-by-play announcer when that network took over Yankees cablecasts.  He began a sports talk show on ESPN Radio (AM 1050) in 2003 and a very successful interview show, “Center Stage,” on YES.

Dick Kazmaier

Dick Kazmaier (College football.  Born, Maumee, OH, Nov. 23, 1930.)  A 171-pound tailback in Princeton’s single-wing attack, Dick Kazmaier was considered the nation’s best football player, winning the Heisman Trophy and Maxwell Award in 1951, the culmination of a career in which he led his Tigers to 22 straight victories.  Princeton got off to something of a wobbly start in 1949, but once Kazmaier was inserted into the lineup, the Tigers took off and finished 6-3, although Cornell won the Ivy League’s then-mythical title.  In 1950, Kazmaier improved his statistics and Princeton was 9-0 as he passed for 665 yards and rushed for another 707.  By his senior season, Kazmaier had attracted the attention of the national press and he didn’t disappoint them. Against Brown, he rushed for 262 yards including a 61-yard scoring dash Oct. 27 as the Tigers won, 12-0.  But his greatest performance came against Cornell the following Saturday at Palmer Stadium.  Kazmaier hit 15 of 17 passes for 236 yards and three touchdowns while running 18 times for 126 yards and two more scores in a 53-12 rout.  For the season, Kazmaier led the nation with 1,827 yards in total offense and set a national record with a .626 passing percentage on 77 completions in 123 passes for 966 yards.  He also tied the N.C.A.A. record of 22 touchdowns-responsible-for he set in 1950.  In his career, Kazmaier ran for 1,950 yards, passed for 2,404 (with a .595 passing percentage) and had 4,354 yards in total offense while scoring 117 points and being responsible for 54 touchdowns.  Kazmaier was drafted by the Chicago Bears but went to the Harvard Business School after graduation instead.

Johnny Keane

Johnny Keane (Baseball.  Born, St. Louis, MO, Nov. 3, 1911; died, Houston, TX, Jan. 6, 1967.)  A man who was in the wrong place at the wrong time in Yankees history, John Joseph Keane managed St. Louis to victory in the 1964 World Series.  When the Yankees (who lost the Series to the Cardinals) dismissed Yogi Berra days later, Keane was hired to succeed him.  Even though he had won the Series with the St. Louis, rumors all summer long that his contract would not be renewed miffed Keane, who resigned the day after the Series ended.  Unfortunately for Keane, the Yankees were about to enter their darkest era in decades.  In 1965, the team finished under .500 for the first time in 40 years, good for only sixth in a 10-team league, and started 4-16 in 1966.  Keane was fired the morning of May 7 and he never managed again.  The Yankees, of course, didn’t win another pennant until 1976.  Keane was 81-101 with the Yankees.

Jack Kearns

Jack Kearns (Boxing.  Born, Waterloo, MI, July 17, 1883; died, Miami Beach, FL, June 17, 1963.)  One of the celebrated characters of boxing for decades, Jack Kearns (born John Leo McKernan) managed six world champions.  Kearns managed heavyweight champion Jack Dempsey for eight years (1917-25) and combined with Tex Rickard to promote Dempsey into a million-dollar gate attraction, the first in boxing history.  Kearns stopped managing Dempsey before the latter lost his title, and Kearns went on to handle several other boxing greats, including light heavyweight king Archie Moore .  Perhaps his greatest fighter was lightweight champion Benny Leonard.  Among his other title-holders were Mickey Walker and Joey Maxim.

Tim Keefe

Tim Keefe (Baseball.  Born, Cambridge, MA, Jan. 1, 1857; died, Cambridge, MA, Apr. 23, 1933.)  One of the premier righthanders of the 1880s, Timothy John Keefe pitched for New York teams in three different leagues and won pennants with two of them.  Keefe began his big league career with Troy, N.Y., in 1880 and came to New York when John B. Day bought the assets of the Troy club (including Keefe’s contract).  He was placed with Day’s A.A. club, the Metropolitans, and was 41-27 as the Mets’ main pitcher in 1883.  A year later, he pitched the Mets to the A.A. pennant with a 33-17 record and started (and lost) the first two games of the first official World Series (against the N.L. Providence Grays).  Day then switched him to his N.L. club (which became known as the Giants), where he was 172-77 in five seasons (1885-89) as the Giants won the N.L. pennants (and World Series) in 1888 and 1889.  Keefe led the league in wins in 1886 (42) and 1888 (35). In 1890, he jumped to the New York club in the Players League, but he was now past his prime and finished 17-11.  After briefly returning to the Giants in 1891 (following the collapse of the P.L.), he was traded to Philadelphia, where he finished his career in 1893.  Keefe was 344-225 in 14 seasons.

Tom Keegan

Tom Keegan (Sportswriter.  Born, Rochester, NY, Mar. 22, 1959.)  After nearly two decades as a sportswriter, Thomas Joseph Keegan became the co-host of a New York sports radio talk show.  Following his graduation from Marquette, Keegan began his sportswriting career with the Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.) in 1981.  He moved to Chicago, Ill., in 1989, joining The National sports daily.  When The National closed, Keegan became a columnist for the Daily Southtown in Chicago (1991-94).  During the 1994 season, he was the Orioles beat writer for The Sun of Baltimore, Md.  The following season, Keegan came to New York, beginning a seven-year run (1995-2002) as a baseball columnist for the Post.  On Sept. 2, 2002, he joined another former Post sportswriter, Wallace Matthews, as co-host of “Wally and the Keeg” (4-7 p.m.) on ESPN 1050 Radio.  But on Apr. 4, 2005, the program was cancelled and Keegan returned to newspaper work, becoming the sports editor of the Lawrence Journal-World in Kansas.

Wee Willie Keeler

Wee Willie Keeler (Baseball.  Born, Brooklyn, NY, Mar. 3, 1872; died, Brooklyn, NY, Jan. 1, 1923.)  “Hit ‘em where they ain’t” was how William Henry Keeler explained his success as a major league hitter.  Keeler was more than a success.  He was great despite his size (or lack of it) at 5”4½’, 140 pounds.  Keeler, a lefty-hitting outfielder, had eight straight seasons of over 200 hits (1894-1901) and a lifetime .345 average.  He played four seasons with Brooklyn (1899-1902), seven with the Yankees, then known as the Highlanders (1903-09) and 19 games with the Giants in 1910 when he retired.  Keeler’s greatest seasons came with the original Baltimore Orioles (1894-98), where he won the batting title in 1897 (.432) and 1898 (.379).  But he hit .377, .368, .355, and .338 in his four Brooklyn seasons and, after jumping to the new A.L., .343 with the 1904 Yankees.

Mike Keenan

Mike Keenan (Hockey.  Born, Whitby, Ont., Oct. 21, 1949.)  In their long and not always illustrious history dating from 1926, only once have the Rangers finished with the N.H.L.’s best regular season record and then gone on to win the Stanley Cup.  That year was 1993-94 and their coach that year – and only that year – was Mike Keenan, who honored his reputation as a taskmaster and incubator of creative tension by driving a team that had missed the playoffs in 1992-93 to a 52-24-8 record for 112 points, most in team history.  Hired as Rangers coach in April 1993, Keenan, who had taken three teams to the Stanley Cup final (1985, 1987, 1992) without ultimate success, led the team past the Devils and Vancouver in dramatic seven-game series in the semifinals and final.  On July 15, 1994, one month and one day after the final victory, Keenan, who had been at odds with g.m. Neil Smith for months, used the pretext of a day-late bonus payment to declare the Rangers in breach of contract and himself a free agent.  In the event, he took over as g.m. and coach of St. Louis and Colin Campbell became Rangers head coach. Keenan coach five other teams thereafter, lasting not even three years in any of those places, and rejoined the Madison Square Garden fold in 2009 as a hockey commentator.  – J.S.

Les Keiter

Les Keiter (Broadcasting.  Born, Seattle, Wash., Apr. 27, 1919; died, Kailua, Hawaii, April 14, 2009.)  For nearly a decade starting in 1954, Les R. Keiter was one of the most recognizable voices in New York sports radio.  Keiter became sports director at WINS (AM 1010) in 1954 and began doing a pre-game show before Yankees games, then carried on that station.  He stopped doing the pre-game show after the 1955 season, but that fall began calling Knicks games on the station.  Keiter was the Knicks voice until the end of the 1960-61 season (except for 1959-60, when no games were broadcast).  When the Football Giants moved from the Polo Grounds to Yankee Stadium for the 1956 season, the team also switched radio stations and Keiter became the play-by-play man for four seasons (WINS, 1956-57; WCBS-AM 880, 1958-59) with four different partners.  His first color commentator was former Yankees rightfielder Tommy Henrich.  After the Giants moved to San Francisco, Keiter did nightly recreations of their games for three seasons (1958-60).  Keiter was also a fight broadcaster, calling all three Floyd Patterson-Ingemar Johansson heavyweight championship bouts, several other heavyweight title fights, and the famous Joey Giardello-Hurricane Carter bout in Philadelphia, Penna. (Dec. 14, 1964).  For eight seasons (1962-70), he called Big 5 basketball in Philadelphia, then returned to the West Coast and retired eventually to Hawaii.  In 1968, Keiter worked the Mexico City Olympics for the old Mutual Broadcasting System network.

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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