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

Category Archives: W

Joe Walton


Joe Walton (Pro football.  Born, Beaver Falls, PA, Dec. 15, 1935.)  One of only a handful of men to coach both the Giants and the Jets, Joe Walton was a player and assistant coach for the Giants and then an assistant (1981-82) and head coach (1983-89) for the Jets.  Walton was an all-America end of the University of Pittsburgh who was drafted by Washington, where he played for four seasons (1957-60).  He came to the Giants in a six-player deal in July 1961.  In three seasons as a tight end for the Giants, Walton had 95 receptions for 1,321 yards and 17 touchdowns.  After a brief radio career, he became a Giants scout in 1967 and an assistant coach in 1969 under Alex Webster (q.v.).  In 1974, Walton went to Washington (where his father Frank had played) as an assistant, becoming offensive coordinator in 1978.  Walt Michaels (q.v.) brought him to the Jets in 1981 and he succeeded Michaels as head coach Feb. 10, 1983, the day after Michaels announced his retirement.  Walton was 53-57-1 in seven seasons as head coach (with playoff appearances in 1985 and 1986) before new general manager Dick Steinberg dismissed him three days after the final game of the 1989 season.

Charles Wang


Charles Wang (Hockey.  Born, Shanghai, China, Aug. 19, 1944.)  Since coming to the U.S. in 1952, Charles B. Wang has become one of leading computer developers in the New York area. On Apr. 26, 2000, Wang and his partner, Sanjay Kumar, announced their purchase of the Islanders for $187.5 million even though he lists basketball as his principal sports interest. Wang and Kumar, following their approval by the N.H.L. Board of Governors, committed to upgrading the franchise, which had gone through four owners in four years.  On Nov. 1, 2000, the pair and a business associate purchased the Iowa team in the Arena Football League for some $7 million, announced that it was being moved to Long Island and renamed the New York Dragons.  That team went out of business when the league folded in 2008.  Wang bought out Kumar’s interest in the Islanders in 2004.  Wang was the chairman and chief executive officer of Computer Associates International, Inc., in Islandia from 1976 until his retirement in November 2002. He is a graduate of Queens College and is the author of several books on computer use, one of which has been translated into seven languages.  Wang has tried to spearhead a renovation of Nassau Coliseum and the surrounding area, but his attempt to have the Nassau County commit $400 million to a bond issue for the so-called Lighthouse Project was defeated by county voters on Aug. 1, 2011, 57%-43%.  Since Wang bought the team, the Islanders have made the playoffs four times and never advanced past the first round.

Bobby Wanzer


Bobby Wanzer (College basketball.  Born, Brooklyn, NY, June 4, 1921.)  A New York high school basketball star, Robert Francis Wanzer became a standout guard at Seton Hall and later with Rochester in the N.B.A.  Wanzer starred for Bill Spiegel at Benjamin Franklin on teams that were unbeaten P.S.A.L. champions.  A World War II hitch in the Marines (1943-46) interrupted his Seton Hall career.  Wanzer played for the Pirates in 1946-47 when the team was coached by Bob Davies (q.v.), whom Wanzer joined in Rochester in 1947 when the Royals were still in the N.B.L.  When the Royals moved to Cincinnati, O., Wanzer went along as their coach, an assignment he began in 1955 while still playing.  Wanzer was fired 18 games into the 1958-59 season after a 3-15 start.  He was 98-136 as an N.B.A. coach.  Wanzer returned to Rochester as coach at St. John Fisher College, where he was 300-244 in 24 seasons (1963-87).

Charlie Ward


Charlie Ward (Pro Basketball.  Born, Tallahassee, FL, Oct. 12, 1970.)  After leading Florida State’s football team to the national championship in Jan. 1994, Charlie Ward, Jr., won the Heisman, Maxwell, and Davey O’Brien trophies as the nation’s best football player, as well as the Sullivan Award as the outstanding amateur athlete in America.  He was also drafted as a baseball prospect by Milwaukee (1993) and the Yankees (1994) but signed with the Knicks as their No. 1 pick (26th overall) in the N.B.A. draft.  In 10 seasons with the Knicks, Ward was basically a backup guard, averaging 6.5 points in his 580 games with New York.  He was traded Jan. 5, 2004, to Phoenix in a deal that brought Stephon Marbury (q.v.) to the Knicks.  Ward played 14 games in 2004-05 for Houston before retiring.

Monte Ward


Monte Ward (Baseball.  Bellefonte, PA, Mar. 3, 1860; died, Augusta, GA, Mar. 4, 1925.)  Few, if any, players cast as long a shadow for as many years as John Montgomery Ward.  Then again, Ward was a most unusual character for the 19th century anywhere in America, let alone baseball.  A graduate of Penn State and, later, Columbia Law, he was a pitcher, star shortstop, manager, union activist, and front office executive, as well as an attorney.  As a pitcher, Ward propelled Providence to the N.L. pennant in 1879, winning 47 of the Grays’ 59 victories.  He had a career 161-101 record, including 40-23 in 1880 (when he pitched the second perfect game ever thrown in the majors), and led the league in strikeouts (239 in 70 games) in 1879.  Arm troubles made him a shortstop after joining the Giants when they first came to New York in 1883.  Ward led the N.L. in stolen bases (111) in 1887 and was the regular shortstop for the 1888 and 1889 pennant and World Series winners.  He was a prime mover in the formation of the players’ union in 1888 and the Players League of 1890, when he hit .369 as playing manager of Brooklyn.  After the P.L. collapsed, he was the player-manager for the Dodgers (1891-92) and the Giants (1893-94).  Ward then retired to his flourishing New York law practice.  He resurfaced as president of the Boston Braves (1911) and business manager of the Brooklyn Federal League club in 1914.  Twice, Ward faced off in court against notorious Giants owner Andrew Freedman and won both times.  He was married to Helen Deuvray, a popular actress of the day.

Lon Warneke


Lon Warneke (Baseball.  Born, Mount Ida, AR, Mar. 28, 1909; died, Hot Springs, AR, June 23, 1976.)  A three-time 20-game winner during his 16-season career with the Cubs and Cardinals, Lonnie Warneke became known to another generation of fans as an N.L. umpire (1949-55).  Warneke was known as the “Arkansas Hummingbird” for his sing-song voice.  While he umpired only seven seasons, he worked the 1952 All-Star game and the 1954 World Series.  During his playing career (1930-45), Warneke won 20 games in 1932 (22-6), 1934 (22-10), and 1935 (20-13), helping pitch the Cubs to the pennant in 1932 and 1935.  The righthander had a lifetime 193-121 record.

Russ Warren


Russ Warren (Football.  Born, Burlington, VT, June 18, 1939.)  Clearly a man not easily discouraged, Dr. Russell F. Warren did not make the cut with the Football Giants in 1962 but returned 22 years later as the team physician.  Warren was a standout halfback on the Columbia team that shared the Ivy League championship in 1961.  During his three-year varsity career at Columbia (1959-61), he gained 895 yards rushing (just a shade under four yards a carry).  Warren also caught 21 passes for 273 yards and scored 10 touchdowns.  He ran 43 yards for a game-clinching score against the Lions’ arch-nemesis, Dartmouth, and a three-yarder the next week against Penn in the win that ensured a tie for the league title.  He was also an outfielder on the Lions’ baseball team.  Warren then went to Upstate Medical School for his M.D. and did a two-year tour as a Naval medical officer.  He is considered one of the top surgeons in New York as surgeon-in-chief at the Hospital for Special Surgery and Professor of Orthopedic Surgery for Cornell Medical Center.  He joined the Giants medical staff in 1984.

Gary Waters


Gary Waters (College basketball.  Born, Detroit, MI, Aug. 15, 1951.)  Named 15th head coach of Rutgers basketball Apr. 6, 2001, Gary Steven Walters led the Scarlet Knights to the N.I.T. three times in his five seasons as head coach.  In his first season in Piscataway, the team went 18-13, and in his third (2003-04), the school reached its first N.I.T. final, when his 20-13 team lost to Michigan, 62-55.  It was Rutgers’ first 20-win season since 1982-83. Waters left after his fifth season and third N.I.T. berth (Rutgers lost in the first round) to become head coach at Cleveland State.  In those five seasons, Rutgers went 79-75, though only 28-52 in Big East Conference play.  – J.S.

Bill Webb


Bill Webb (Television sports.  Born, West Orange, NJ, Jan. 6, 1951.)  Winner of three national Emmys, three New York Emmys, and four Eclipse awards in horse racing, Bill Webb is perhaps the best director now active in television sports.  Webb’s career began with an 18-year stint at WOR-TV (now WWOR) that started in 1969.  In 1971, he became associate director of Mets telecasts.  Webb became Channel 9’s director for Mets games in 1979 and assumed the additional duties of producer two years later.  After the 1987 season, he moved to ABC-TV and in 1992 joined MSG Network to direct Yankees telecasts while continuing to direct other major events (such as thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown races) for ABC-TV.  In 1995, Webb directed the National League playoffs and World Series for ABC and then shifted to FOX Network Sports, where he directed the playoffs and World Series starting in 1996

Del Webb


Del Webb (Baseball.  Born, Fresno, CA, May 17, 1899; died, Rochester, MN, July 4, 1974.)  A major construction magnate and a former minor league pitcher, Del E. Webb was an ownership partner of the Yankees for two decades.  Along with Dan Topping (q.v.) and Larry MacPhail (q.v.), Webb bought the Yankees Jan. 26, 1945, for about $2.8 million from the estate of Jacob Ruppert (q.v.), who had died in 1939.  He was initially a “mystery man” in the deal who was unmasked by Max Kase (q.v.) of the Journal American.  Webb began his working life as a carpenter in Oakland, while pursuing a career as a pitcher.  By 1926, his pitching aspirations were finished and in 1929 Webb began a construction company in Phoenix.  That venture survived the Depression and thrived during World War II, growing into the Del E. Webb Corp., a giant construction and ownership combine in Arizona, Nevada, California, Hawaii, and Florida.  During his ownership, the Yankees won 15 A.L. pennants and 10 World Series.  Topping and Webb bought our MacPhail after the 1947 season.  In August 1964, the pair sold 80% of the team to CBS.  The next year, Webb sold his remaining 10% interest to CBS as the Yankees dynasty was collapsing.  His company continued to build and operate hotels, office complexes, casinos, and housing developments, as well as a large construction business.  His baseball career made him a popular figure with Yankees front office personnel.

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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