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

Category Archives: G

Honest John Gaffney

Honest John Gaffney (Baseball.  Born, Roxbury, MA, June 29, 1855; died, New York, NY, Aug. 8, 1913.)  He liked to call himself “Honest John,” but many referred to John H. Gaffney as “King of the Umpires” in the late 19th century.  Gaffney started his big league umpiring career in 1884 in the N.L.  Before he was finished, he would work in three leagues and manage a team, all in 12 seasons.  Gaffney managed the Washington Nationals for the last 43 games of the 1886 season after umpiring the first part of the season.  He managed all of 1887, finished seventh, and then went back to umpiring in 1888.  Late that season, Gaffney switched over to the N.L.’s rival, the American Association.  In the middle of the next season, he left the A.A. and went back to the N.L.  In 1890, he jumped to the Players League and came back to the N.L. for five more seasons (1891-95).  His status in the eyes of the players and fans was such that he could get away with it all and still be welcomed wherever he landed.  In the one-umpire days, an arbiter had to be fearless and Gaffney certainly was that.

John Gaherin

John Gaherin (Baseball.  Born, New York, NY, Nov. 24, 1914; died, Hyannis, MA, Jan. 24, 2000.)  Former head of the Newspapers Publishers Association of New York, John J. Gaherin was baseball’s chief labor negotiator (1967-78) during a tumultuous time in the game’s labor history.  Gaherin headed the management group that negotiated with Marvin Miller, then head of the Players Association.  He negotiated the first Basic Agreement in 1968, the renegotiation of the pension plan a year later, and the revolutionary Basic Agreement announced during the 1976 All-Star break in Philadelphia, Penna., which granted free agency under certain conditions to the players for the first time in nearly a century.  The owners reluctantly agreed to the free agency provision after arbitrators ruled against the reserve clause, which had previously kept players bound to one club unless traded or released.

Clark Gaines

Clark Gaines (Pro football.  Born, Elberton, GA, Feb. 1, 1954.)  A running back from Wake Forest, Clark Gaines was a mainstay of the Jets offense for five seasons (1976-80).  Gaines rushed 581 times for 3,880 yards (4.4 yards per carry) and eight touchdowns.

Augie Galan

Augie Galan (Baseball.  Born, Berkeley, CA, May 25, 1912; died, Fairfield, CT, Dec. 28, 1993.)  Despite a right elbow broken in childhood and a left knee damaged twice in the big leagues, August John Galan had a 17-year major league career.  “Goo-Goo” was already in his eighth season with the Chicago Cubs when he was sold to Brooklyn for $2,500 in 1941.  A switch-hitting outfielder, he was batting just .208 in 65 games with Chicago but helped the Dodgers in the stretch run to win the 1941 N.L. pennant.  Galan hit .259 with Brooklyn.  He was hitless in two World Series at-bats.  As it happened, a draft physical revealed his old elbow injury and, coupled with his damaged knee, made him 4-F.  Galan thus played regularly with the wartime Dodgers and enjoyed some of his best seasons.  He hit .318 in 1944, .307 in 1945, and .310 in 1946 (after the war was over), twice leading the N.L. in walks (1943-44).  Galan was then swapped to Cincinnati (Dec. 4, 1946) and finished his career in 1949, when he logged 22 games with the Giants and 12 with the Phillies.  Galan hit .287 in 1,742 career games with five teams.

Two-Ton Tony Galento

Two-Ton Tony Galento (Boxing.  Born, Orange, NJ, Mar. 12, 1910; died, Livingston, NJ, July 22, 1979.)  Among the most colorful and popular characters in boxing during his career, Dominic Anthony Galento was a heavy heavyweight contender in the 1930s.  Galento’s most celebrated bout came against champion Joe Louis June 28, 1939, before 34,852 at Yankee Stadium, when he knocked Louis down in the third round.  He looked briefly to be able to make good on his pre-fight boast, “Ill moider da bum,” but Louis won when the fight was stopped in the fourth round.  Galento won 82 of 114 pro fights from 1929-44, losing to Max Baer in another notable bout in 1940 in Jersey City, N.J.  He fought 32 times in Newark and 15 times in New York.  Galento earned his nickname by nearly missing a fight in Newark when he told the promoter he had to deliver two tons of ice on his way to the arena.  After retiring in 1944, he ran a bar and restaurant in Orange, N.J.  Galento suffered from diabetes and had his left leg amputated in 1977.  During the 1950s, he appeared in bit parts in several films, including On the Waterfront and Guys and Dolls.

Arnie Galiffa

Arnie Galiffa (Football.  Born, Donora, PA, Jan. 29, 1927.)  An Army quarterback from 1946-49, Arnold A. Galiffa was an all-America choice in his senior season.  Following military service, Galiffa had a brief pro career with the Giants (1953) and San Francisco (1954).

Harry Gallatin

Harry Gallatin (Pro Basketball.  Born, Roxana, IL, Apr. 26, 1927.)  Known universally as “Harry the Horse,” Gallatin earned the nickname by his rugged work off the backboards of the N.B.A. and for his remarkable endurance.  During his nine seasons with the Knicks, Gallatin never missed a single game, logging 610 in a row to set what was then an N.B.A. record.  He extended that record to 682 games, plus 64 more in the playoffs.  That record was eventually broken by Dolph Schayes.  No player in Knicks history, besides Gallatin, has ever played as many as 400 straight games.  Although only 6’6”, 210 pounds, Gallatin, a Navy veteran, was among the best rebounders in the N.B.A. during his career and played in the league’s first seven All-Star games. He joined the club in 1948-49 out of Northeast Missouri State, averaging 8.3 points per game in 52 games.  He moved into double figures in scoring (11.8) his second season but it wasn’t until his third year that his value became more appreciated.  During the 1953-54 season, Gallatin had his best year. With 1,098 rebounds he not only led the league but set an N.B.A. record while also becoming the first Knick player ever named to the All-N.B.A. first team.  In 1954-55, Gallatin finished second to the Philadelphia Warriors’ Neil Johnston in the rebounding race and was named to the all-N.B.A. second team.  He was also honored with a “Harry Gallatin Night” (the first Knick so honored) at Madison Square Garden when he played his 500th straight game Feb. 8, 1955. In the summer of 1957, Gallatin was traded to the Detroit Pistons.  He scored 7,771 points and collected 5,935 rebounds for the Knicks.  On Jan. 3, 1965, Gallatin was named the seventh coach in team history, succeeding Eddie Donovan, who became general manager.  After a 6-15 start to the 1965-66 season, he was replaced by Dick McGuire.

Paul Gallico

Paul Gallico (Sports editor.  Born, New York, NY, July 26, 1897; died, Monte Carlo, Monaco, July 15, 1976.)  Among the most renowned sportswriters of the “Golden Age of Sports” was Paul William Gallico, sports editor and columnist of the Daily News from 1924-36.  Gallico joined the News in 1922 as a movie critic but was a sportswriter (1923-24) before becoming sports editor.  He created many of his own best works by competing against the great athletes of the day.  Gallico, a Columbia man who should have known better, boxed heavyweight champion Jack Dempsey and was knocked out in less than two minutes.  He swam against Johnny Weismuller and golfed with Bobby Jones (less hazardous pursuits).  Gallico also was a promotional mind who helped create the Golden Gloves amateur boxing tournament and the Silver Skates for amateur skaters, both major Daily News promotions with finals at the Garden.  He left the paper to become an author.  One of Gallico’s first major works was Farewell to Sports (1938), but the title was something of a misnomer since he later turned out a biography of Lou Gehrig.  Gallico moved to Europe in 1950 and there produced his most noted work, including The Snow Goose, Mrs. ‘Arris Goes to Paris, and The Poseidon Adventure.

Bill Gallo

Bill Gallo (Cartoonist.  Born, New York, NY, Dec. 28, 1922; died, White Plains, NY, May 10, 2011.)  Starting in 1960 as career that lasted over 50 years, William V. Gallo was one of the most popular sports cartoonists ever to work in New York and the proud torch-bearer of a long newspaper tradition.  With his marvelously earthy characters “Basement Bertha,” her cousin “Penthouse Polly,” “Yuchie,” “Bernie the Bulgarian,” and “Two Kids Talkin’ Sports,” Gallo has warmed the hearts of New York sports fans.  His father was a New York newspaperman and Gallo wanted to follow his dad.  He studied art in high school and in 1941 applied for jobs at all of the city’s much-more-numerous papers before landing a job at the Daily News.  He ended up being with the News for 70 years, with military service in the Second World War interrupting his career.  In 1946 he returned to the News as a picture clerk.  He pursued his college education days while working full-time nights.  Then he was transferred in 1960 into the sports department, where he began his cartoon career.  Gallo is also a boxing columnist and has won awards, including the James J. Walker Award from the Boxing Writers Association, 10 “Reuben” awards and 22 Page One Awards for cartoons.

Len Gambino

Len Gambino (Sportscaster.  Born, Stamford, CT, Apr. 18, 1938.)  A local star in southwest Connecticut, Leonard Gambino was a sportscaster for WSTC (AM 1400) for 26 years (1970-96).  During that stretch, Gambino broadcast high school football, basketball, baseball, softball, and hockey, as well as conducting a sports news show that by the mid-1970s also included a talk show format.  He expanded the station’s coverage to include the Big East and New York area pro sports.  Gambino later did Fairfield U. football and basketball, cable television scholastic sports, and MSG Network’s high school game of the week.

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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