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

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Carmine Abbatiello

Carmine Abbatiello (Harness racing.  Born, Staten Island, NY, May 23, 1936.)  Harness racing’s second winningest all-time driver, Carmine Abbatiello won his 7,000th race on October 23, 1990, at Yonkers Raceway with a horse appropriately named “Right on Course.”  Abbatiello, a graduate of Staten Island’s Port Richmond High, went directly from high school into harness racing as an apprentice to older brother Anthony.  Eight years later, in 1964, Carmine opened his own stable.  In his first year out, Abbatiello won 104 races and purses worth $211,998.  As a native New Yorker, Abbatiello became one of the most popular of all sulky stars on the New York circuit and became the first City native to win a driving championship on local tracks.  He was the driving champion for six straight years (1978-83) at Yonkers Raceway, where, appropriately, he won his 7,000th race.  Abbatiello won driving titles at all of the New York area tracks, including the Meadowlands, Freehold, Monticello, the old Roosevelt Raceway and Yonkers.  His lifetime earnings exceed $50 million.  Although he has obviously been aboard the sulky behind some outstanding horses over his career, Abbatiello’s consistency is what earned him his reputation. In the 17-year stretch from 1968-84, the Harness Hall of Famer won 200 or more races 15 times including 393 in 1979 and 391 in 1980.  His annual winnings surpassed $3 million five times.

Jim Abbott

Jim Abbott (Baseball.  Born, Flint, MI, Sept. 19, 1967.)  One of the truly inspirational stories in baseball history, James Anthony Abbott was born without a right hand and yet had a major league career that lasted more than a decade.  Abbott spent two of those years with the Yankees (1993-94), where he was 20-22.  He was obtained from California Dec. 9, 1992, for three players (including first base prospect J.T. Snow).  Easily the highlight of his Yankees years was a 4-0 no-hit victory over Cleveland Sept. 4, 1993, at Yankee Stadium.  He was 87-108 for his career (1989-96, 1998-99).  Before coming to the major leagues, Abbott pitched for the University of Michigan, won the Sullivan Award (1987) as the nation’s top amateur athlete, and led the U.S. team to the Olympic gold medal at Seoul in 1988.

Taffy Abel

Taffy Abel (Hockey.  Born, Sault Ste. Marie, MI, May 28, 1900; died, Sault Ste. Marie, MI, Aug. 1, 1964.)  Reputed to be the first American-born player in the N.H.L. to learn the sport in the U.S., Clarence Abel was a beefy (225 pounds) defenseman on the original Rangers of 1926-27.  Abel appeared in 107 games for the Rangers in three seasons.  He was signed Aug. 14, 1926, after playing on the 1924 U.S. hockey team in the first Winter Olympic Games, as well as spending three years with the amateur St. Paul (Minn.) A.C.  Abel scored eight goals in 1926-27, a high figure for a backliner at the time, but missed nearly half of the next season because of injury before helping the Rangers win the 1928 Stanley Cup.  He was sold to Chicago after the 1928-29 season for a reported $15,000 and played five seasons for the Blackhawks.

Seth G. Abraham

Seth G. Abraham (Executive.  Born, Brooklyn, NY, Aug. 20, 1947.) On June 7, 2001, Seth G. Abraham, who had joined Madison Square Garden only eight months earlier as executive vice president and chief operating officer, was promoted to president of Madison Square Garden/Radio City Entertainment. Before he resigned in January 2004, he had responsibility for, among other things, the MSG Networks, MSG Sports Properties, and Radio City Entertainment, the entity that manages Radio City Music Hall, which the Garden controls. Abraham succeeded Dave Checketts as president of the Garden when the latter resigned after almost seven years as Garden president. Abraham had been with Home Box Office for 22 years before joining the Garden, starting at HBO as director of sports operations in 1978 and became, in 1990, president and chief executive officer of Time Warner Sports, a position he held for 10 years before joining the Garden. Noted for seemingly always wearing a baseball cap, Abraham holds a B.A. from the University of Toledo and an M.A. from Boston U., both in journalism, and had a stint as a stringer for the Boston bureau of The New York Times.  He left the Garden in 2004.

Jesse Abramson

Jesse Abramson (Sportswriter.  Born, Mountain Dale, NY, Mar. 11, 1904; died, Mount Vernon, NY, June 11, 1979.)  In the sports world, the term “walking encyclopedia” is applied to anyone with above-average knowledge of a particular sport.  Jesse Abramson was one of those rare people to whom the term could realistically be applied.  Abramson was a man who could often be prickly, to say the least, but his knowledge of track and field, college football, and boxing, the areas in which he specialized, could not be questioned.  After graduating Manhattan’s Stuyvesant H.S., Abramson became a stringer, then a copy boy for the New York Herald in 1922.  When the Herald was folded into the new Herald Tribune in Mar. 1924, he was one of the few Herald men retained.  Shortly, he became a staff sportswriter.  Abramson remained with the paper until it closed in April 1966.  He covered every Olympiad from 1928 to 1976.  Abramson was also the founder and the first president of the New York Track Writers Association.

Ernie Accorsi

Ernie Accorsi (Football.  Born, Hershey, PA.)  A one-time sportswriter for the Baltimore Sun and Philadelphia Inquirer, Ernie Accorsi guided his career from reporting to public relations to administration to becoming general manager of the Football Giants.  Accorsi was p.r. director of the old Baltimore Colts from 1970-75, spent two years as assistant to the president of the N.F.C., and then returned to the Colts.  He was the g.m. when the Colts drafted John Elway, who shortly thereafter was traded to Denver without Accorsi’s knowledge (or, needless to say, his approval).  Soon, Accorsi was no longer general manager and the Colts were no longer in Baltimore, having moved to Indianapolis.  Accorsi later served as g.m. of the Cleveland Browns (1985-92) and briefly worked for baseball’s Baltimore Orioles before joining the Giants as assistant general manager under George Young in 1994.  Upon Young’s retirement in Jan. 1998, Accorsi became general manager and put together the team that went all the way to the 2001 Super Bowl.  Accorsi also orchestrated perhaps the most famous draft-day trade in Giants history when he acquired Mississippi quarterback Eli Manning Apr. 24, 2004.  He retired as general manager in January 2007, but the team he largely put together won the Super Bowl just over 12 months later. – J.S.

Franklin P. Adams

Franklin P. Adams (Columnist.  Born, Chicago, IL, Nov. 15, 1881; died, New York, NY, Mar. 30, 1960.)  Probably no writer other than Franklin Pierce Adams can claim to have helped put three men indelibly into the consciousness of baseball fans everywhere forever.  Adams started his newspaper career in Chicago but (except for military service in World War I with the U.S. Army) wrote in New York for over 30 years.  He was with the Evening Mail (1904-13), the Tribune (1913-17), the World (1919-31), and the Herald Tribune (1931-39).  It was while with the Mail that he closed a story with a whimsical poem entitled “Baseball’s Sad Lexicon” that immortalized the Chicago Cubs’ double-play combination of (Joe) Tinker to (Johnny) Evers to (Frank) Chance.

Pauline Betz Addie

Pauline Betz Addie (Tennis.  Born, Dayton, OH, Aug. 6, 1919; died, Potomac, MD, May 31, 2011.)  After Alice Marble turned pro, Pauline Betz Addie emerged as the strongest U.S. women’s player while still an undergraduate at Florida’s Rollins College.  As Pauline Betz, she lost the 1941 Forest Hills final to Sarah Palfrey Cooke, but then won three straight years before losing the final again (to Mrs. Cooke) in 1945.  She then won both Wimbledon (in an all-American final over A. Louise Brough) and the U.S. championship (over Doris Hart) in 1946.  She also won the French mixed doubles that year with Budge Patty.  Betz was ranked U.S. No. 1 four times and ranked eight times in the Top 10 from 1939-46 before she married Washington, D.C., sportswriter Bob Addie in 1949 and then became a teaching pro in the Washington area.  Barred from playing in major championships in 1947 for considering (though not actually) turning pro, she played professionally from 1947-60.

Johnny Addie

Johnny Addie (Ring announcer, boxing. Born, New York, NY, Aug. 12, 1902; died, New York, NY, December 12, 1971.)  Starting at the Fort Hamilton Arena in 1942, Johnny Addie became one of the better-known of the small club announcers, reinforcing the tradition of working in a tuxedo (now an industry norm) and, having learned sufficient Spanish, introducing Latin fighters in their native language. Born as one of eight Addonizio children on the Lower East Side, Addie achieved the height of his profession when he first worked at Madison Square Garden in 1948. He remained the regular voice of the Garden ring (and its Gillette-sponsored Friday Night Fights) until his finale on Oct. 28, 1971 (George Foreman vs. Luis Pires). He worked over 100 world championships, including several at Yankee Stadium and the Polo Grounds.

George Adee

George Adee (College football and tennis.  Born, Stonington, CT, Jan. 4, 1874; died, New York, NY, July 31, 1948.)  George Townsend Adee was a star quarterback at Yale (1892-94), making the Whitney-Camp all-America team in 1894.  He served as president of the U.S. National Lawn Tennis Association (now the U.S.T.A.) during and after World War I (1916-20), having earlier held several other offices in the organization.

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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About Bill Shannon

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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