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

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Paul Tagliabue

Paul Tagliabue (Pro football.  Born, Jersey City, NJ, Nov. 24, 1940.)  When Pete Rozelle (q.v.) announced his retirement as N.F.L. commissioner in Mar. 1989, a search was begun for the successor to the man widely hailed as a visionary sports leader.  Paul John Tagliabue, a graduate of N.Y.U. School of Law, was the resultant choice.  It was, however, not a simple process.  Tagliabue was chosen in a 12-ballot process spread over more than three months in three cities.  He was chosen over New Orleans general manager Jim Finks during a three-day meeting encompassing six ballots in Cleveland.  Tagliabue was elected by the owners Oct. 26, 1989, and took over officially from Rozelle Nov. 5.  Once in office, he presided over the expansion of the N.F.L. from 28 teams to 32 and handled franchise shifts that took the N.F.L. to Tennessee, and back to Oakland and St. Louis.  Of greater import were his television negotiations, which raised the N.F.L. revenue for rights from $3.65 billion in 1990-93 to $17.6 billion for the eight-year package with four networks announced in January 1998.  Each of the 30 teams then part of the league would realize an average of $70 million per year under those contracts.  The N.F.L. also continued to set attendance records, hitting an average of 64,020 per game in 1999.  Instant replay for the on-field officials and the World League of American Footballl, based fully in Europe (as N.F.L. Europe), were also created.  Tagliabue was a basketball player at Georgetown (1959-62) after playing at St. Michael’s H.S. in Jersey City.  The 6’5” forward was the Hoyas captain in 1961-62.  He retired as N.F.L. commissioner in 2006.

Billy Talbert

Billy Talbert (Tennis.  Born, Cincinnati, OH, Sept. 4, 1918; died, New York, NY, Feb. 28, 1999.)  William F. Talbert was a man of many parts. A tireless campaigner for a diabetes cure, a former U.S. Davis Cup captain, one of the leading doubles players in American tennis history, twice a national singles finalist and the chairman of the U.S. Open for many years are all roles he played with skill and distinction.  Talbert played on 19 U.S. national doubles championship teams, including four men’s at the U.S. nationals at Forest Hills (1942, 1945, 1946, 1948), and four mixed there as well (1943, 1944, 1945, 1946). Gardnar Mulloy was his partner in the men’s victories and Margaret Osborne duPont in the mixed.  He was also a finalist in men’s doubles five other times (1943, 1944, 1947, 1950 and 1952) with a variety of partners. In addition, he won four Clay Court titles with three different partners, five indoors (four with Don McNeill and one with Tony Trabert) and two Indoor mixed (both with Doris Hart). Talbert captained the U.S. Davis team in its 1954 championship season after having played in several rounds in prior years.  In both 1944 and 1945, he was a national singles finalist at Forest Hills. But, in 1970, he returned to that venerable ground as the chairman and tournament director of the U.S. Open, an event then only two years old. Tennis went Open in 1968, allowing all players both professional and amateur to compete in all major tournaments. Under Talbert’s guidance, the U.S. Open grew into one of the great sports events in America.  His “sudden death” nine-point tie-breaker at the 1970 Open introduced the concept of tie-break sets to major tournament tennis.

Sid Tanenbaum

Sid Tanenbaum (College Basketball.  Born, Brooklyn, NY, Oct. 8, 1925; died, Far Rockaway, NY, Sept. 4, 1986.)  Even though not all of his games were against what would later be classified as collegiate opposition, Sidney Tanenbaum was the first player to score 1,000 points in his N.Y.U. basketball career (1,074).  As a sophomore, in 1944-45, he scored a then-record 302 points in 24 games (12.6 per game) and, in each of the next two years, was chosen the winner of the Haggerty Award as the best player in the metropolitan area.  In the 1947-48, Tanenbaum averaged 10.1 in 24 games for the Knicks but was traded to Baltimore in July 1949 after dropping to an 8.0 average in 32 games in 1948-49.

Sam Taub

Sam Taub (Broadcaster.  Born, New York, NY, Sept. 10, 1886; died, New York, NY, July 10, 1979.)  Once the most famous name in boxing broadcasting, Sam Taub began his career in New York sports as a copy boy for the old Morning Telegraph, then edited by famed former western gunslinger Bat Masterson (q.v.).  The young Taub quickly became a favorite of Masterson’s, running his errands and bringing him lunch.  In fact, when Masterson died in 1921, he died at his desk and Sam Taub was the first to see the body.  After a career as a sportswriter, Taub turned to radio in the 1930s and during his career was to broadcast more than 7,000 fights over the air.  During most of his career, his primary sponsor was Adam Hats and Taub became known as “the voice of Adam Hats.”  In 1937, Mike Jacobs promoted an 18-week series of bouts at the New York Hippodrome on Sixth Ave., and it was the first series to be regularly broadcast weekly with Taub at ringside microphone for WHN (AM 1050) under the sponsorship of Adam Hats.  Taub generally worked with commentator Angelo Palange and as the bell sounded after each round’s end, Taub would say, “Take it away, Angelo,” a phrase New York kids grew up repeating.  Television came to boxing on an experimental basis in 1938 and Taub called a series of bouts from Ridgewood Grove, St. Nicholas Arena and the Jamaica Arena for the new medium.  Taub was also the voice for the first major televised bout, the heavyweight matchup between Lou Nova and Max Baer at Yankee Stadium on June 1, 1939.

Bill Taylor

Bill Taylor (Sportswriter.  Born, New Bedford, MA, May 31, 1901; died, Port Washington, NY, Jan. 6, 1966.)  As the first sportswriter to win a Pulitzer Prize and the only one to win it for contemporaneous reporting, William H. Taylor stands alone in his field.  Taylor graduated Dartmouth in 1923 and joined the Herald Tribune, where he was yachting editor from 1927 to 1942.  He won his Pulitzer in 1935 for his comprehensive and interpretive coverage of the 1934 America’s Cup series, in which Ranger (U.S.) defeated Endeavour (England).  All other Pulitzers in sports have been to columnists in the commentary category.  Taylor covered other sports from time to time, but yachting was more than a specialty, it was a dedication.  Taylor served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, rising to Lt. Commander.  After the war, he became an associate editor of Yachting magazine and then its editor.

Brian Taylor

Brian Taylor (College and pro basketball.  Born, Perth Amboy, NJ, June 9, 1951.)  A talented 6’3” backcourt star, Brian Taylor scored over 1,200 points in two seasons at Princeton and then helped the New York Nets win two A.B.A. championships.  Taylor averaged 23.5 points per game for the Tigers in 1970-71 as a sophomore and successor to Geoff Petrie (q.v.) as Princeton’s shooting guard.  The next season, he averaged 25.0 but then left school to join the Nets.  In his two Princeton seasons, Taylor had 1,239 points in just 51 games (24.3).  With the Nets, he played key roles for both the 1974 and 1976 A.B.A. titlists.  Shortly after the Nets joined the N.B.A., Taylor was traded to Kansas City (Sept. 10, 1976), in the deal that brought Nate (Tiny) Archibald to New York.  Taylor averaged 14.0 points in 271 career games with the Nets.

Ray Tellier

Ray Tellier (College football.  Born, West Haven, CT, June 10, 1951.)  A star quarterback at West Haven’s Notre Dame H.S. and Connecticut (1970-72), Ray G. Tellier coached more Columbia football games than anyone except Lou Little (1930-56, 234 games).  Tellier became Columbia’s 16th head football coach in Jan. 1989 and had his first winning season in 1994 (5-4-1).  He was national Division I-AA Coach of the Year in 1996 when the Lions were 8-2 and second in the Ivy League, their highest finish since the co-championship of 1961.  Tellier was replaced after a 1-9 season in 2002 and became an administrator in the Columbia athletic department.  He was 42-96-2 in 140 games as Lions head coach.

Adonis Terry

Adonis Terry (Baseball.  Born, Westfield, MA, Aug. 7, 1864; died, Milwaukee, WI, Feb. 24, 1915.)  A righthanded pitcher and outfielder, William H. Terry was noted for his handsome looks that not only earned him his nickname but also a legion of female fans.  Terry was a standout with Charles Byrne’s Brooklyn club of 1884 when the team moved into the American Association, then the second major league.  His first season at the big-league level was impressive for its stamina.  Terry started 56 games, threw 55 complete games, relieved once, pitched 485 innings, and was 20-35 for a ninth-place team in a 13-team league.  His 20 wins accounted for half of the team’s victories.  Terry never quite recovered from this effort.  He played as much outfield as he pitched during his remaining years in Brooklyn, which lasted through 1891.  In 1889, Terry was 26-16 for the A.A. champions and 26-16 again for the Brooklyn N.L. pennant winners of 1890.  He played for three other N.L. teams before retiring after the 1897 season with a 197-195 career record.  Terry was 137-139 in eight years at Brooklyn but was the team’s first star.

Bill Terry

Bill Terry (Baseball.  Born, Atlanta, GA, Oct. 30, 1898; died, Jacksonville, FL, Jan. 9, 1989.)  William Harold Terry was not only the best National League first baseman of his time, but he also compiled a lifetime .341 average in 14 seasons with the New York Giants and managed the team to three pennants.  Terry joined the Giants in 1923, appearing in only three games that year, but was a regular reserve on the 1924 Giants, the last to win a pennant under John McGraw.  He became the regular first baseman, supplanting George Kelly, in 1925 and batted .319.  Dogged by injury, he slumped to .289 the following season but then hit .322 or better for nine straight seasons.  His best single season came in 1930, when he hit 23 homers, batted in a career-high 129 runs and hit .401, becoming thereby the most recent N.L. batter to surpass the .400 mark.  He pounded out 254 hits in 154 games that season and scored 139 runs.  In 1931, Terry was again the N.L. batting champ with a .349 average while leading the league in runs scored (121) and triples (20).  He was McGraw’s handpicked successor as manager of the Giants, taking over on June 3, 1932.  His choice stunned Terry himself, since he and his hard-bitten manager had a turbulent and unpleasant relationship.  But Terry was the right man for the job, guiding the Giants to flags as a playing manager (and a five-game World Series win over the Washington Senators) in 1933 and in 1936, adding another as a bench boss in 1937.  Terry managed the Giants through 1941 when another Polo Grounds favorite, Mel Ott, succeeded him upon his retirement.

Jeff Tesreau

Jeff Tesreau (Baseball.  Born, Silver Mine, MO, Mar. 5, 1899; died, Hanover, NH, Sept. 24, 1946.)  Beginning with a semipro club in Perryville, Mo., Charles Monroe Tesreau became a standout righthander with the Giants and then a popular coach at Dartmouth.  Tesreau was 22-15 in two seasons in the Texas League when his contract was sold to the Giants on Aug. 27, 1910.  He was optioned to Toronto in 1911, where he was 14-9.  The tall (6’3”) spitballing righthander was 17-7 as a rookie in 1912 with an N.L.-best 1.96 e.r.a.  Tesreau was manager John McGraw’s choice to open that year’s World Series against Boston’s Smokey Joe Wood (who was 34-5 in 1912) and lost 4-3.  He split two other decisions in the Series won by Boston, 4-3 with one tie, taking a rematch with Wood in the seventh game to tie the Series.  Tesreau was 22-13 in 1913 as the Giants again won the pennant and 26-10 in 1914.  He spent his entire seven-year major league career with the Giants, compiling a 119-72 record and pitching for three pennant winners (also 1917).  He threw a no-hitter Sept. 6, 1912, winning 3-0 at Philadelphia.

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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