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

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Lindsey Nelson


Lindsey Nelson (Born, Brownlow Creek, TN, May 25, 1919; died, Atlanta, GA, June 10, 1995.) earned his national reputation broadcasting college football.  In fact, only once in a span of 35 years did he miss having a bowl game assignment on New Year’s Day.  That year was 1969.  That season, Lindsey Nelson was the principal voice for one of the most exciting continuing events in New York sports history – the Mets’ run for the National League pennant and their subsequent startling victory over Baltimore in a five-game World Series.  Nelson began his play-by-play baseball career in New York when the Mets were born in 1962 and was the lead announcer (with Bob Murphy and Ralph Kiner) on both radio and television for 17 seasons.  During his tenure, the Mets won two pennants (1969 and 1973) and one World Series (1969), carrying the other Series to seven games against the Oakland Athletics.  His network college football career began with the old Liberty Network in 1951 and ultimately led to 21 years of football (college and pro) for CBS, 12 years for NBC and even a few games for ABC-TV.  Added to that was LBS, Mutual and CBS on radio.  However, New York fans will always best remember him for the years with the Mets when “Hello, everybody, I’m Lindsey Nelson,” opened some 2,700 Mets games on radio and television.  Nelson subsequently did three years of broadcasts for the San Francisco Giants and five years of network weekly games for NBC.  But his bright plaid jackets and soft drawl remain a part of Mets lore.

Lindsey Nelson


Lindsey Nelson (Broadcaster.  Born, Brownlow Creek, TN, May 25, 1919; died, Atlanta, GA, June 10, 1995.)  Lindsey Nelson earned his national reputation broadcasting college football.  In fact, only once in a span of 35 years did he miss having a bowl game assignment on New Year’s Day.  That year was 1969.  That season, Nelson was the principal voice for one of the most exciting continuing events in New York sports history – the Mets’ run for the National League pennant and their subsequent startling victory over Baltimore in a five-game World Series.  Nelson began his play-by-play baseball career in New York when the Mets were born in 1962 and was the lead announcer (with Bob Murphy and Ralph Kiner) on both radio and television for 17 seasons.  During his tenure, the Mets won two pennants (1969 and 1973) and one World Series (1969), carrying the other Series to seven games against the Oakland Athletics.  His network college football career began with the old Liberty Network in 1951 and ultimately led to 21 years of football (college and pro) for CBS, 12 years for NBC and even a few games for ABC-TV.  Added to that was LBS, Mutual and CBS on radio.  However, New York fans will always best remember him for the years with the Mets when “Hello, everybody, I’m Lindsey Nelson,” opened some 2,700 Mets games on radio and television.  Nelson subsequently did three years of broadcasts for the San Francisco Giants and five years of network weekly games for NBC.  But his bright plaid jackets and soft drawl remain a part of Mets lore.

Graig Nettles


Graig Nettles (Baseball.  Born, San Diego, CA, Aug. 20, 1944.)  During the decade of the 1970s, only two American League hitters drove in more runs than Graig Nettles – Reggie Jackson and Carl Yastrzemski – but it was Nettles’ spectacular fielding in Game 3 of the 1978 World Series that awakened baseball fans to his talent.  Nettles joined the Yankees after the 1972 season, following six years split between Minnesota (1967-69) and Cleveland (1970-72).  In 11 seasons with the Yankees (1973-83), he hit 250 of his 389 career homers, leading the A.L. in 1976 (32) and belting a career-best 37 in 1977.  A career .248 hitter, Nettles was a superb third baseman (even though he printed “E-5” on the back of his glove) as well as a serious power threat.  His 21-year career saw him finish with San Diego (1984-86) and Atlanta (1987).  Nettles played in four World Series with the Yankees (1986-78, 1981) and another with San Diego (1984), where he later became a coach.  Hepatitis cost him half of the 1980 season, although he returned for the Yankees’ playoff loss (hitting an inside-the-park homer in Game 2 at Kansas City).  He was the M.V.P of the 1981 A.L.C.S. against Oakland, driving in three runs in each of the three games of the Yankees’ sweep.

Jerry Neudecker


Jerry Neudecker (Baseball.  Born, Marine, IL, Aug. 13, 1930; died, Fort Walton Beach, FL, Jan. 11, 1997.)  Jerome A. Neudecker was an A.L. umpire for 20 seasons (1966-85).  Following Bill Kunkel’s retirement after the 1984 season, Neudecker was the last A.L. umpire using the outside “balloon” chest protector while working behind the plate.  The outside protector, over the objections of A.L. umpire supervisor Dick Butler, was eliminated in 1979 by commissioner Bowie Kuhn in the interests of “uniformity.”  Umpires were told to use the inside protector and adopt the N.L. system of crouching behind the catcher on the side of the plate used by the hitter.  Those using the outside protector were “grandfathered” and some continued to use it.  Others, such as Marty Springstead, gave it up voluntarily.  Neudecker continued the A.L. style of standing directly behind the catcher and bending the knees slightly to get a clear view of both sides of the plate (with the additional virtue of less back strain).

Don Newcombe


Don Newcombe (Baseball.  Born, Madison, NJ, June 14, 1926.)  An overpowering right-hander, big Don Newcombe was one of the key players on the great post-World War II Brooklyn Dodgers championship teams. He was a three-time 20-game winner and, in 1956, had a 27-7 record that led the National League.  Newcombe came to Ebbets Field in 1949 with the first major wave of players liberated from discrimination by Jackie Robinson, his Dodgers teammate. As a rookie, he compiled an impressive 17-8 record with a 3.17 e.r.a. that was particularly sparkling considering the cozy confines of his home park. His greatest season was 1956 when he had a 3.06 e.r.a., but in between Newcombe won 20 games in 1951 (20-9, 3.28) when the Dodgers scrambled into a tie with the Giants on the final day of the season after having led the N.L. race all season. He also won 20 in 1955 (20-5, 3.20) when his winning percentage of .800 was tops in the league. Newcombe compiled an exceptional 123-60 record in seven seasons with the Dodgers in Brooklyn and his totals might have been even more impresive if he had not missed all of the 1952 and 1953 seasons due to military service.  “Big Newk,” as he was affectionately known in Brooklyn, was also an outstanding left-handed power hitter. He was so good that his batting statistics were regularly listed with those of the everyday players in the New York newspapers. He hit 10 homers for the Brooklyn Dodgers, seven of them in 1955, when he batted .359. He was frequently used as a pinch-hitter. Overall, his career encompassed 10 seasons including two in Cincinnati, and he finished with a 149-90 career record in 344 games.

Harry Newman


Harry Newman (Pro football.  Born, Detroit, MI, Sept. 5, 1909; died, Las Vegas, NV, May 2, 2000.)  As a triple-threat tailback from the University of Michigan, Harry L. Newman signed a contract with the Football Giants that gave him a percentage of the gate.  Newman justified the deal by leading the N.F.L. in passing in 1933 as a rookie and helping them win the 1934 N.F.L. championship.  In the 1933 championship game at Chicago, he threw the first touchdown passes in league playoff history, but the Giants lost, 23-21.  In 1934, Newman set a club single-game record with 38 rushing attempts against Green Bay, but a week later cracked two bones in his back and didn’t play in the famed 1934 “Sneakers Game,” in which the Giants beat the Bears to win the N.F.L. title.  He played seven games in 1935  and then joined the Brooklyn Tigers in the new A.F.L., retiring after the 1937 season.  Newman later became an executive with the Ford Motor Co. and owned major Ford dealerships in Detroit and Denver, Colo.

Jack Nicklaus


Jack William Nicklaus (Golf.  Born, Columbus, OH., Jan. 21, 1940.) Winner of more major tournaments than any other golfer in history, “the Golden Bear” captured 20 major titles, with two of his most dramatic victories coming in U.S. Opens at Baltusrol in Springfield, N.J., in 1967 and 1980.  Jack Nicklaus also won the Open in 1962 and 1972, as well as a record six Masters, five P.G.A. championships and two U.S. Amateur crowns.  His first-round 71 in the 1967 Open placed him behind amateur Marty Fleckman (67), Arnold Palmer and Billy Casper (69).  A second-round 67 drew him to within one stroke of Palmer’s 68-137.  Fleckman regained the lead on the third day.  But for Nicklaus, the first 54 holes were just a warm-up for his blistering finale.  Nicklaus roared through the final 18 in 65 strokes and knocked in a birdie putt on 18 to finish four strokes ahead of Palmer.  He had eight birdies on Sunday and finished at 275, an Open record, breaking the standard set in 1948 by Ben Hogan in Los Angeles.  Perhaps even more dramatic was his 1980 triumph, which enabled him to become only the fourth man ever to win four U.S. Opens.  Nicklaus came off a 1979 that was his worst year ever on the tour.  He hadn’t won a tournament since July 1978, at Philadelphia, and in 1979 was a miserable 71st on the money-winning list.  Yet he turned in another Open record with a 63-71-70-68-272.  He needed that brilliant performance to shake Japan’s Isao Aoki, who toured the 72 holes in 274.

Jack Nicklaus


Jack Nicklaus (Golf.  Born, Columbus, OH, Jan. 21, 1940.)  Winner of more major tournaments than any other golfer in history, “the Golden Bear” captured 20 major titles, with two of his most dramatic victories coming in U.S. Opens at Baltusrol in Springfield, N.J., in 1967 and 1980.  Jack William Nicklaus also won the Open in 1962 and 1972, as well as a record six Masters, five P.G.A. championships and two U.S. Amateur crowns.  His first-round 71 in the 1967 Open placed him behind amateur Marty Fleckman (67), Arnold Palmer and Billy Casper (69).  A second-round 67 drew him to within one stroke of Palmer’s 68-137.  Fleckman regained the lead on the third day.  But for Nicklaus, the first 54 holes were just a warm-up for his blistering finale.  Nicklaus roared through the final 18 in 65 strokes and knocked in a birdie putt on 18 to finish four strokes ahead of Palmer.  He had eight birdies on Sunday and finished at 275, an Open record, breaking the standard set in 1948 by Ben Hogan in Los Angeles.  Perhaps even more dramatic was his 1980 triumph, which enabled him to become only the fourth man ever to win four U.S. Opens.  Nicklaus came off a 1979 that was his worst year ever on the tour.  He hadn’t won a tournament since July 1978, at Philadelphia, and in 1979 was a miserable 71st on the money-winning list.  Yet he turned in another Open record with a 63-71-70-68-272.  He needed that brilliant performance to shake Japan’s Isao Aoki, who toured the 72 holes in 274.

Phil Niekro


Phil Niekro (Baseball.  Born, Blaine, OH, Apr. 1, 1939.)  A righthanded knuckleballer who spent just two seasons with the team, Philip Henry Niekro nevertheless achieved the significant milestone of his 24-year career (1964-87) with the Yankees.  Niekro was 32-20 in his two seasons in New York, winning 16 games each in 1984 and 1985.  He won his 300th career victory on the final day of the 1985 season Oct. 6 at Toronto, 8-0.  Niekro spent virtually all of his career with the Braves in Milwaukee (1964-65) and Atlanta (1966-83), and was briefly with Cleveland (1986-87) and Toronto (1987) after leaving the Yankees.  He finished with a lifetime 318-274 record.  At his retirement, Niekro ranked in the top 10 in several career categories, including losses, games (864), innings, walks, and strikeouts.

Lou Niss


Lou Niss (Sports editor.  Born, Minsk, Russia, Oct. 5, 1903; died, New York, NY, Apr. 30, 1987.)  The last sports editor of the Brooklyn Eagle, Louis Niss was also the first front-office employee hired by the Mets, in 1960.  Niss began his newspaper career in 1923 wirh the Brooklyn Times and worked his way through a series of mergers that ultimately reduced four Brooklyn dailies to zero.  The Times absorbed the Standard Union to become the Times Union and then, in 1937, the paper was sold to the Eagle.  In 1941, Niss became the Eagle sports editor, succeeding Jimmy Wood.  (The other principal Brooklyn daily, the Citizen, closed in 1947.)  When the Eagle folded in 1955 during a strike, Niss did publicity for Yonkers Raceway for three years (1955-58) and then joined Branch Rickey’s projected third major league, the Continental League.  When the league forced expansion in the A.L. and N.L., Niss was hired by the Mets, initially as a publicist.  Starting in 1962, however, Niss spent 19 seasons (through 1980) as the team’s traveling secretary.  While with the Eagle, he served as chairman of the B.B.W.A.A. Brooklyn chapter several times, the first in 1944-45.

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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