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

Category Archives: Y

Ventan Yablonski


Ventan Yablonski (College football.  Born, Worcester, MA, Mar. 4, 1923; died, Naperville, IL, March 1, 2008.)  A sophomore quarterback at Fordham in 1942, Ventan Constantine Yablonski became a star halfback and placekicker at Columbia after World War II.  Yablonski, a stocky 5’8”, 190 pounds, gained 637 yards rushing in two seasons (149 carries, 4.3 average) for the Lions.  He also scored an even 100 points, hitting 34 of 51 extra points, four of 12 field goals, and scoring nine touchdowns.  Yablonski’s most important kicks were the three extra points he made Oct. 25, 1947, at Baker Field when Columbia ended Army’s 32-game unbeaten streak, 21-20.  He then had a four-year N.F.L. career with the Chicago Cardinals (1948-51) and kicked three field goals in a game against the Green Bay Packers in 1949, a season in which he made five of six field goal attempts.

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Abe Yager


Abe Yager (Sports editor.  Born, Brooklyn, NY, July 13, 1870; died, Brooklyn, NY, Aug. 22, 1930.)  As first sports editor of the Brooklyn Eagle, Abe Yager created the paper’s sports section.  Yager, who was to spend his entire 45-year working career with the Eagle, was hired in 1885.  Shortly thereafter, he began handling the small sports items that were a staple of afternoon newspapers, many of them simply used as fillers to complete columns of other news that weren’t quite full.  Yager urged the management to stop that practice and create a page for the sports news.  By the 1890s, he got his wish and was the de facto sports editor, although the title wasn’t officially created until 1896.  Yager was a baseball enthusiast who joined the B.B.W.A.A. in 1908 (he had card No. 8) and served as the first Brooklyn chapter chairman (1908-21).  He was the primary official scorer for major league games in Brooklyn for nearly 30 years, though he did not score either World Series the Dodgers reached while he was chapter chairman (1916, ’20).

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Manuel Ycaza


Manuel Ycaza (Horse racing.  Born, Panama City, Panama, Feb. 1, 1938.)  Coming to New York at age 16 in 1954, C. Manuel Ycaza was destined to become one of the best thoroughbred riders of his generation.  He was also one of the first of the great Panamanian jockeys to become successful in New York.  Ycaza gained national acclaim in 1964, when he steered Quadrangle to victory in the Belmont Stakes by two lengths over Roman Brother.  Northern Dancer was bidding for a Triple Crown in that race but finished third on the Aqueduct track.  (Belmont was being renovated.)  Ycaza had one of his finest years in 1968, when he won an astonishing $1,923,974 with only 644 mounts.  He won 125 times that year (a .188 percentage), including many of the East’s biggest races, including the Acorn, the Alabama, the Barbara Fritchie, the Brooklyn Handicap (aboard Damascus), the Champagne Stakes, and the Hopeful.  That year, Ycaza rode the famous filly, Dark Mirage, to a series of victories, including the Coaching Club American Oaks, the Monmouth Oaks, and the Mother Goose.  He was dogged by injury much of the latter part of his career, riding only 20 times in 1970 and 97 times in 1971 (although he won $233,656 that year), and he retired in 1972. He did return for a brief comeback in the spring of 1983.

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Buddy Young


Buddy Young (Pro football.  Born, Chicago, IL, Jan. 5, 1926; died, Terrell, TX, Sept. 4, 1983.)  A small, elusive package of halfback, Claude (Buddy) Young was a thrilling part of New York pro football for five seasons with teams in two leagues based in Yankee Stadium.  As a rookie in 1947, Young first excited New York fans while returning kickoffs and punts as well as running and receiving for the New York Yankees of the All-America Football Conference, the A.A.F.C.’s Eastern division champs that season.  During the 1949 season, Young led the Yankees in scoring and rushing with a 6.5 average, but the league folded after that season.  When the Yankees were disbanded, their players were divided up among the two remaining New York N.F.L. franchises and Young wound up with the Yanks (known as the Bulldogs in 1949), who were also based at Yankee Stadium in 1950 and 1951.  In his first N.F.L. season, he averaged 4.6 yards per carry, caught 20 passes for 302 yards, returned 20 kickoffs for a startling 26.8 average, and ran back nine punts for a six-yard-per-return average.  His versatility kept him with the club as it traveled to Dallas as the Texans in 1952 and to Baltimore as the Colts in 1953.  He gained 2,727 yards on 597 N.F.L. rushes and caught 179 passes for 2,711 yards, scoring 38 touchdowns as a runner and receiver.  In 1964, Young became the first black executive hired by a major sports league when he became the N.F.L.’s director of player relations.  As a collegian in 1944, he tied Red Grange’s Illinois record for touchdowns in a season with 13.

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Dick Young


Dick Young (Sportswriter.  Born, New York, NY, Oct. 17, 1917; died, New York, NY, Aug. 31, 1987.)  From the day he started to cover baseball in 1943 until just before his death 44 years later, Richard Leonard Young was the most quoted, controversial, and widely-read sportswriter in New York for the better part of four decades.  Dick Young began his career as a copy boy at the Daily News and remained with the morning tabloid until 1982, when he moved to the New York Post as a columnist at a salary reported to be $150,000 per year, then a monstrous sum for a sportswriter.  Young made his reputation as the finest tabloid lead writer in the baseball business while covering the post-war Brooklyn Dodgers.  He also authored columns called “Young Ideas” and “Clubhouse Confidential.”  He was a tireless worker and a fearless opponent, carrying on legendary feuds with athletes such as Tom Seaver and telecasters such as Howard Cosell.  Young was also one of the best boxing writers of his time.  He not only wrote detailed round-by-round accounts of major fights in progress, but then wrote leads and dressing room stories.

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George Young


George Young (Bowling.  Born, Omega, GA, Oct. 3, 1909; died, Detroit, MI, Aug. 30, 1959.)  George Young was born and raised in Georgia, but did not try his hand at bowling until he was 24 and had settled in Brooklyn.  The year was 1933 and when he took to the lanes he quickly became one of the top bowlers in the New York area, and by 1949 had made his presence felt nationally.  It was in 1949 that Young won the first of his six American Bowling Congress Tournament gold medals while bowling as a part of the E & B team, rated as one of the best in the nation.  Young moved to Detroit in 1949 and spent the final years of his outstanding career bowling for top teams in the Motor City.  Young set a record by topping 1,800 pins for nine games in nine consecutive A.B.C. tournaments and at one time his 202 lifetime average in A.B.C. tournaments was the best in the nation.  When he finished sixth in the American Bowling Congress doubles in 1942, rolling 694, his partner was Marty Cassio.

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Ross Youngs


Ross Youngs (Baseball.  Born, Shiner, TX, Apr. 10, 1897; died, San Antonio, TX, Oct. 22, 1927.)  Of all the players he managed during his lengthy reign (1902-32) at the helm of the New York Giants, John McGraw had no more than three personal favorites.  Christy Mathewson was certainly one, the young Mel Ott was probably another, and Royce Middlebrook Youngs was definitely one.  Thus, the tragedy of Ross Youngs’ death at age 30 was a great blow even to the tough-minded skipper.  During his first seven full seasons with the Giants, Youngs never hit less than .300.  From 1920-24, the lefthanded hitter batted .351, .327, .331, .336, and .356, as the Giants won four straight pennants (1921-24) and two World Series (’21-22).  In 1925, Youngs’ averaged plummeted to .264 and at the end of that season, he was diagnosed as having Bright’s Disease.  This disorder, which produced high blood pressure, kidney malfunction, and nephritis, was also to claim club owner Charles Stoneham in 1936.  McGraw hoped to help Youngs recover and still keep him as a part of the team.  Youngs was used sparingly in 1926 (95 games) and was under constant medical supervision.  McGraw hired a male nurse to accompany him at all times.  Yet Youngs was literally a dead man walking in 1926 despite his .306 batting average.  His 114 hits included only 21 for extra bases.  He had led the N.L. in doubles in 1919 with 31 and in his five best years, 224 of his 941 hits had been for extra bases.  He was simply unable to play in 1927.  Youngs had been a key element in the Giants’ becoming the first N.L. team ever to win four straight pennants with his great seasons.  But his loss was more than just the absence of a quality player.  McGraw’s Giants were never the same, inspired team after Youngs’ illness.  Many observers felt that his loss, coming on top of Mathewson’s death in 1925 of tuberculosis, killed McGraw’s, and the Giants’, spirit.  The team was almost immediately revitalized after Bill Terry  became the manager in 1932.

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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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