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

Category Archives: S

Gene Sarazen


Gene Sarazen (Golf.  Born, Harrison, NY, Feb. 27, 1902; died, Naples, FL, May 13, 1999.)  One of the true legends of golf, Eugene Sarazen first hit the scene when, at the age of 20 years and four months, he won the 1922 U.S. Open.  He also captured the P.G.A. title in 1922 and 1923, but then hit a long slump before re-emerging in the 1930s as one of the leading players.  In 1932, Sarazen won the U.S. Open at Fresh Meadows Country Club in Flushing, N.Y., with a spectacular performance.  He shot 74-76-70-66-286, winning by three strokes over Phil Perkins and Bobby Cruickshank.  He shot the last 28 holes in an even 100 strokes and his final-round 66, the best by a champion up to that time, stood until 1960, when Arnold Palmer shot a 65 to win his only Open title.  Sarazen also won the British Open in 1932, the P.G.A. in 1933 and the Masters in 1935, propelled by a double-eagle two in the last round, still considered the most famous shot in golf history.  Overall, he won 37 major tournaments from 1922-51.  He was also a member of the U. S. Ryder Cup team every year from 1927 to 1937 and lost only once in singles.

Herb Scharfman


Herb Scharfman (Photographer.  Born, Chicago, IL, Aug. 24, 1911; died, Scottsdale, AZ, Feb. 21, 1998.)  Herb Scharfman became one of the best known photographers in sports through his work in the pages of Sports Illustrated, but he actually got his start as a motorcycle messenger for the International News Services’ photo division.  Scharfman joined I.N.S. in 1932 and, during the depths of the Depression, he made a gutsy gamble when he borrowed $100 to purchase a camera.  It was a young man’s gamble that worked.  For nearly a quarter-century, Scharfman was one of I.N.S.’ leading photographers and built a strong reputation in sports in particular.  In June 1958, the I.N.S. operation was virtually discontinued as International News Service was merged into United Press to create the present United Press International.  Scharfman was laid off along with most of the I.N.S. staff.  Scharfman then joined the four-year-old Sports Illustrated, the publication being produced by Time Incorporated, and he quickly became one of its leading lensmen, producing numerous covers in almost all major sports.  He has also had a long-term relationship with the Dodgers and remained an annual visitor to spring training camp at Vero Beach, Fla., for many years.

Dolph Schayes


Dolph Schayes (College basketball.  Born, New York, NY, May 19, 1928.)  A standout at DeWitt Clinton H.S., Adolph Schayes became one of the greatest players in New York University history when the Violets were ranked among the national powers of college basketball.  As a wartime freshman on the varsity in 1944-45, Schayes averaged 11.5 points per game, but saved one of his finest performances for the tournament semifinals at Madison Square Garden.  Trailing a strong Ohio State team by 10 points with two minutes to play, the Violets appeared out of the tournament.  But Schayes fired a rally that tied the game and forced it into overtime, where the Violets won to reach the championship game.  Unfortunately for N.Y.U., Oklahoma A&M and its 7-foot center, Bob Kurland, prevailed in the final, 49-45.  Schayes led the Violets to a 19-3 record and another N.C.A.A. berth in 1945-46.  As a senior in 1947-48, Schayes averaged 13.7 as the Violets went 22-4 and reached the championship of the National Invitation Tournament before losing to St. Louis University.  Schayes was drafted by the Tri-Cities Blackhawks of the National Basketball League, but because he evidenced no desire to play in Moline, Ill., the Hawks swapped his rights to the Syracuse Nationals, where he spent the bulk of his 16-year pro career.  His coach at N.Y.U., Howard Cann (q.v.), rated him as one of his five best players in the era from 1937 to Cann’s retirement in 1958.

Max Schmeling


Max Schmeling (Boxing.  Born, Klein Luckaw, Brandenburg, Germany, Sept. 28, 1905; died, Hollenstedt, Germany, Feb. 2, 2005.)  A reluctant symbol of the pre-World War II Nazi regime in Germany, Max Schmeling was the world heavyweight champion (1930-32).  Schmeling gained lasting fame for two bouts with Joe Louis (q.v.), which became charged with international political and racial symbolism (with which he was extremely uncomfortable, in part because his U.S. manager, Joe Jacobs, was Jewish).  While he fought 11 times in New York and once in Newark, N.J., starting in 1928, four of those bouts stand out.  On June 12, 1930, he won the vacant heavyweight title on a foul in the fourth round against Jack Sharkey.  Schmeling lost his title to Sharkey June 21, 1932, in a 15-round decision at Yankee Stadium.  He scored his most famous victory at the Stadium June 19, 1936, knocking out Louis in the 12th round in a non-title fight.  The rematch, also at the Stadium, saw a ferocious build-up fueled by Nazi propaganda that cast the German as fighting for “Aryan supremacy.”  In the event, 70,043 paid to see Louis defend his title June 22, 1938, with a brutal assault that knocked out Schmeling at 2:09 of the first round.  Schmeling had only one more bout before the German invasion of Poland Sept. 1, 1939, set off World War II in Europe.  Schmeling served briefly as a paratrooper in the German Army (1941-42) and was injured in the Battle of Crete.  He was later interned by the Nazis but was freed at the war’s end in 1945.  Schmeling fought five times after the war (1947-48) and then settled into a comfortable retirement.  Reportedly, he gave Louis financial aid over the years.  Schmeling’s record of 71 fights including 10 losses and five draws.

Bob Schnelker


Bob Schnelker  (Pro football.  Born, Gahon, O., Oct. 17, 1928.)  Slow-footed but sure-handed, Robert Bernard Schnelker caught 189 passes for 3,312 yards (16.2 average) in seven seasons with the Giants.  Obtained from Philadelphia, Schnelker joined the Giants in 1954, playing for an N.F.L. championship team in 1956 and two division winners (1958, ’59).  In the 1959 title game at Baltimore, he caught nine passes for 175 yards and a touchdown in the Giants’ 31-16 loss.  In the off-season, Schnelker taught high school mathematics in Upper Sandusky, O.  He was traded to Pittsburgh before the 1961 season.  In his seven seasons with the Giants, Schnelker scored 29 touchdowns.

Otto Schnellbacher


Otto Schnellbacher (Pro football.  Born, Sublette, KS, Apr. 15, 1923; died, Topeka, KS, Mar. 10, 2008.)  Though he was with the team for only two seasons (1950-51), Otto Schnellbacher was a corner of Giants coach Steve Owen’s (q.v.) “umbrella defense.”  Along with Tom Landry (q.v.), Harmon Rowe, and Emlen Tunnell (q.v.), Schnellbacher formed a unit that stymied the fabled passing offense of Cleveland and quarterback Otto Graham.  An all-America receiver and all-Conference basketball star at Kansas, Schnellbacher played two seasons with the A.A.F.C. Yankees (1948-49) and joined the Giants in the dispersal draft after the A.A.F.C. folded.  He had 34 interceptions in four pro seasons and then retired to become an insurance executive in Kansas.  Schnellbacher also played a season of pro basketball in 1948-49, for Providence and St. Louis of the B.A.A. (forerunner of the N.B.A.).

Ken Schroy


Ken Schroy (Pro football.  Born, Valley Forge, PA, Sept. 22, 1952.)  Signed as a free agent in 1976, Kenneth M. Schroy was with the Jets, primarily as a strong safety, for 10 seasons.  Schroy was drafted by Philadelphia out of the U. of Maryland but was injured and released.  He missed the 1976 season with a fractured ankle.  Schroy had several outstanding seasons in the early 1980s.  He was second in team M.V.P. voting in 1980 (to running back Bruce Harper).  That season, Schroy had an 82-yard interception return for a touchdown against Houston.  He had 16 career interceptions, plus two in the 1982 A.F.C. championship game at Miami.  The last two years of his career were hampered by shoulder injuries.  Schroy later became a sales executive with Paine Webber.

Garry Schumacher


Garry Schumacher (Public relations.  Born, Brooklyn, NY, Nov. 2, 1901; died, San Francisco, CA, Oct. 22, 1978.)  He was effectively the only head publicist the Giants ever had in New York, but Garry Schumacher also had a lengthy career as a sportswriter.  Born in Greenpoint, Schumacher began as a teenager with the Brooklyn Standard-Banner and then moved to The Globe.  In 1922, he became the Brooklyn sports editor of the Evening Journal.  Schumacher covered the Dodgers until 1927, then spent 15 seasons (1927-41) with the Giants before covering Brooklyn again in 1942.  From 1943-46, he followed the Yankees for what was by then the Journal-American but, at the end of the 1946 season, left the paper to become what was titled director of promotion for the Giants.  Schumacher was, in reality, the public relations director, the team’s first.  After the Brooklyn Eagle was shut down in a strike before the 1955 season began, Schumacher hired Billy Goodrich, who had covered the Giants for the paper, as the director of publicity.  But Schumacher remained the chief publicist for the Giants until they moved to San Francisco after the 1957 season.  He moved with the team and was, officially, director of public relations for them there until he retired in 1971.

Hal Schumacher


Hal Schumacher (Baseball.  Hinckley, NY, Nov. 23, 1910; died, Cooperstown, NY, Apr. 21, 1993.)  It was only natural, given the Shakespearean literacy of the times, that Harold Henry Schumacher should be called “Prince Hal,” since he was the righthanded complement to the Giants’ star lefty, Carl Hubbell, who was known as “King Carl.”  Schumacher contributed to three Giants pennants in the 1930s and was twice an All-Star (1933, 1935).  After an eight-game trial in 1931, he joined the Giants to stay in 1932, but was only 5-6.  Schumacher then produced his three best seasons:  19-12 in 1933, 23-10 in 1934, and 19-9 in 1935.  Though he was just 24-25 combined, he made 59 starts and 14 relief appearances as the Giants won the N.L. pennant in 1936 and 1937.  Schumacher spent his entire 13-year career with the Giants (1931-42, 1946) and retired with a 158-126 career record.  He was 2-2 in five World Series starts.

Leon Schweir


Leon Schweir (Television sports.  Born, Manchester, CT, Aug. 17, 1952.)  Beginning his career with Connecticut Public Television in 1974, Leon Schweir worked with born ESPN and USA Network in 1979-80 before joining MSG Network as a staff producer and director in 1980.  Schweir produced Knicks telecasts from 1983-89, when MSG began televising the Yankees, and he became producer of those telecasts (1989-2001).  He has also done Rangers hockey, college basketball, and the New York City Marathon for various outlets, including ESPN, WPIX, Fox Network Sports, and CBS-TV Sports.  A graduate of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., Schweir directed tennis coverage at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea, for NBC-TV Sports.  In 2007, he was named the first producer of the Big Ten 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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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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