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

Category Archives: L

Al Laney


Al Laney (Sportswriter. Born, Pensacola, FL, Jan. 11, 1896; died, Spring Valley, NY, Jan. 31, 1988.) Starting with the Pensacola Journal in his birthplace, Albert Gillies Laney moved to newspapers in Dallas, Tex., amd Minneapolis, Minn., before joining the U.S. Army during World War I. After two years in the service, Laney mustered out in 1919 and went to New York. He started with the Evening Mail in 1920, switched into sports, and, when his paper was sold to the Telegram in 1925, went to Paris for the new Herald Tribune. Writing for both the European and New York editions, he covered tennis, golf, and other sports. Laney was to cover every Wimbledon championship from 1925 to 1939. With the onset of World War II in Europe, he returned to New York. For 25 years (1940-65), Laney was a fixture at Forest Hills for the U.S. national tennis championships. He also became a regular on the hockey beat, covering at first the Americans and then the Rangers at the Garden. After the Herald Tribune closed in April 1966, Laney was with the World Journal Tribune until it, too, folded May 5, 1967. He was a versatile writer who not only covered tennis, golf, and hockey but also baseball and college football, all of which he wrote about with elan.

Jack Lang


Jack Lang (Sportswriter. Born, Brooklyn, NY, May 11, 1921; died, Huntington, NY, Jan, 25, 2007.) For nearly three decades, the one voice a retired ballplayer wanted to hear was that of Jack Lang. As national secretary of the B.B.W.A.A., Lang would call former players to inform them of their election to the Baseball Hall of Fame. In that position, he was also a fierce fighter for reporters’ rights and their access to players, umpires, and executives in baseball. Lang held that job for 22 years (1966-88) and, after a one-year break, became the first executive secretary of the B.B.W.A.A. (1989-94). During much of this period, he was also the secretary-treasurer of the New York chapter of the organization, primarily responsible in that role for the staging of its annual dinner, the largest affair of its type in the country. Lang was also a working sportswriter for most of 60 years, starting in 1945. He worked as a part-time writer at the Long Island Press (1941-42) before World War II. After 38 months in the U.S. Army, he joined the paper full-time Nov. 11, 1945. Lang began covering the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1946 and did so until the end of 1957, when they moved to Los Angeles. He then switched to the Yankees for four seasons (1958-61), until the Mets began in 1962, when he went back to the N.L. The Press closed Mar. 25, 1977, while Lang was covering spring training, but less than four hours after the announcement, he was hired by the Daily News. After nearly 12 years, he retired Dec. 31, 1989. Lang then began writing a column for Sportsticker (1990-97). He was a regular official scorer and also the long-time New York N.L. correspondent for The Sporting News.

Sam Langford


Sam Langford (Boxing. Born, Weymouth, Nova Scotia, Feb. 12, 1880; died, Cambridge, MA, Jan. 12, 1956.) Moving to Boston, Mass., as a youngster, Sam Langford was to prove to be one of the great prizefighters of his era. Due to racial discrimination endemic in his time, Langford never got a championship opportunity, but in a 23-year career (1902-24), he fought in every weight class from lightweight to heavyweight. To make a living, as the best black fighters fought each other often. Langford faced Harry Wills 22 times, Sam McVey 15 times, and Joe Jeanette 14 times. He fought in France, Canada, Mexico, Panama, England, Australia, and the U.S. All told, Langford had 252 fights, winning 99 by knockout and losing only 23. He was knocked out just four times. He fought 22 times in New York and three times in Brooklyn. After retiring, Langford lived in New York for many years, but went blind and moved to Boston, where he was cared for by old friends.

Dr. Allan Lans


Dr. Allan Lans (Baseball. Born, New York, NY, Aug. 11, 1932.)  As psychiatry consultant to the Mets, Dr. Allan M. Lans gained public notice in the late 1980s through his counseling of players such as Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry. He was the attending physician in psychiatry at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center in Manhattan. Dr. Lans was also a consulting psychiatrist at the Hospital for Special Surgery and an associate clinical professor at the Columbia U. College of Physicians and Surgeons. He practiced as a primary care physician for 19 years (1960-79) before becoming a psychiatrist. He received his B.A. from N.Y.U. in 1954 and was associated with the Mets from 1985 until he resigned at the end of spring training in 2003.

Jim Lansing


Jim Lansing (College football. Born, Mount Vernon, NY, Sept. 16, 1919; died, Mount Vernon, NY, Dec. 2, 2000.) An all-America end at Fordham, James Lansing became a critical part of the restoration of football at Rose Hill. Lansing starred for the Rams in 1940 and 1941 and, after returning from World War II military service, again in 1946. He was all-America in 1941, playing in the 1941 Cotton Bowl and the 1942 Sugar Bowl, and was co-captain in 1946. Fordham dropped football in 1954 and Lansing helped revive it, coaching the school’s club team (1964-69) to a 23-13-1 record. The success brought the restoration of varsity status in 1970 as a Div. III team, which Lansing also coached for two seasons (1970-71), with a 7-8-2 record.

Joe Lapchick


Joe Lapchick (College and pro basketball. Born, Yonkers, NY, Apr. 12, 1900; died, New York, NY, Aug. 10, 1970.) Joseph Bonhomiel Lapchick had two distinct careers in professional basketball, and another in college basketball, and any one of them would have been sufficient to make him one of the sport’s most significant contributors. Although he never attended college, Lapchick learned the game in the gyms and Y.M.C.A.s of his native town. After World War I, he began playing professionally in the New England League. He refined his game with several Massachusetts teams, including Holyoke, Worcester and Pittsfield, before joining the Original Celtics in 1921. Lapchick, a strong 6’5”, was considered a very big man for his day and he supplanted Johnny Beckman as the Celtics center, helping the team become one of the strongest ever assembled. The Celtics dominated pro basketball and the American Basketball League in the 1920s due in no small measure to Lapchick’s rugged rebounding and smooth outlet passing. He retired in 1937 to become head coach at St. John’s, but ten years later became the second coach of the New York Knickerbockers. Under his direction, the Knicks made the N.B.A. final three straight seasons (1951-53). In the days before the 24-second clock, Lapchick’s Knicks were the finest passing and playmaking team in the league. During his nearly ten years as Knicks coach, his regular-season record was 326-247, including a then club-record 47-23 in 1952-53, and overall, including playoffs, Lapchick was 356-278. He then returned to St. John’s. During his two terms as head basketball coach of the Redmen, the names Lapchick and St. John’s became synonymous. Lapchick led the Redmen to a record four National Invitation Tournament titles in his 19 seasons, two during his first 10-year tenure and two more during his second stint (1956-65). Lapchick’s first N.I.T. win came in 1943, when his team finished 21-3. His second came the next year, when the Redmen were 18-5. In 1959, St. John’s was 20-6 and took its third crown in the Garden. The fourth N.I.T. title came in Lapchick’s final game as a head coach in Mar. 1965. He had six teams with 20 or more wins in a season and was 334-130 in 19 seasons at St. John’s.

Edgar Laprade


Edgar Laprade (Hockey. Born, Mine Center, Ont., Oct. 10, 1919.) Noted for his exceptional puck-handling skills, Edgar Louis Laprade was a center for the Rangers during his entire eight-year N.H.L. career (1945-53). Adept at setting up teammates for scoring chances and an excellent penalty killer, Laprade won the Calder Trophy (1945-46) as the top rookie and the Lady Byng (1949-50) for gentlemanly play. He led the Rangers in scoring (44 points) in 1949-50, though his best year was 1947-48, when he had 47 points, including 34 assists. Laprade missed the last 28 games in 1950-51 with a compound fracture of the left fibula. He retired to run a hotel in Port Arthur, Ont. Laprade had 104 goals, 155 assists, and 259 points (but just 40 penalty minutes) in 405 career games. He scored three goals with five assists for the Rangers in the 1950 playoffs when they reached the Stanley Cup final.

John Lardner


John Lardner (Sportswriting. Born, Chicago, IL, May 4, 1912; died, New York, NY, Mar. 24, 1960.) Son of the fabled Ring Lardner, John Abbott Lardner was a general sports columnist, based mainly in New York, for the North American Newspaper Alliance (1933-48) and Newsweek magazine (1939-57).

Ring Lardner


Ring Lardner (Sportswriting. Born, Niles, MI, Mar. 6, 1885; died, East Hampton, NY, Sept. 25, 1933.) It was sportswriting that made Ringgold W. Lardner famous but it was his other work that made him wealthy. In the 1920s, Lardner began contributing articles to the Saturday Evening Post magazine and writing sketches for the Ziegfeld Follies. These endeavors brought him to Broadway. Noted playwright Robert Sherwood fashioned a play, “Love Nest,” out of a Lardner short story. The play opened Dec. 22, 1927, and was well-received. The following year, Lardner converted one of his own stories into “Elmer the Great,” starring Walter Huston. He then joined the celebrated George S. Kaufman on “June Moon,” based on yet another Lardner story. This was adjudged one of the best plays of the season after its opening Oct. 9, 1929 (at the Broadhurst). The cast included soon-to-be film stars Norma Foster, Lee Patrick, and Florence Rice. It ran 273 performances and successfully toured. Lardner’s sportswriting career really began in 1905 at the South Bend (Ind.) Tribune. He then moved to the Chicago Inter Ocean, where he rose to sports editor. Although the bulk of his sportswriting career was in Chicago, Lardner was with The Sporting News in St. Louis, Mo., for nearly two years (1910-11). Eventually, he returned to the Chicago Tribune for six years (1913-19), primarily covering the White Sox. During these years, Lardner began publishing the books that gave him a national reputation – Bib Ballads (1915), You Know Me, Al (1916), and Gullibles Travels (1917), which combined his insights on sports with his ear for dialogue and a natural flair for humor.

Gene Larkin


Gene Larkin (College baseball. Born, Flushing, NY, Oct. 24, 1962.) A senior season seldom equalled in Eastern college baseball catapulted Eugene Thomas Larkin into a seven-year major league career and two trips to the World Series. During his four years (1981-84) at Columbia, where he was a third baseman, the switch-hitting Larkin set career records in almost every major offensive category, eclipsing some marks held by Lou Gehrig. He had 25 home runs, 114 runs batted in, and a .371 average. Larkin hit 19 homers and drove in 62 runs as a senior to become the Lions’ first all-American since Archie Roberts in 1965. Converted to a first baseman, he came to Minnesota in 1987, playing in both the 1987 and 1991 World Series before retiring after the 1993 season. Larkin had a .266 average in 758 major league games with 32 homers. His r.b.i. single in the bottom of the 10th inning of Game 7 of the 1991 Series gave the Twins a 1-0 win and the World Series title.

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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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