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

Category Archives: W

Serena Williams


(Tennis. Born, Saginaw, MI, Sept. 26 1981.)  Arguably both the greatest player in the history of women’s tennis and one-half of the most accomplished sibling combination in sports history,  Serena Jameka Williams – 15 months younger than sister Venus – began playing tennis at the age of three and professional tennis by 14. As a sixteen-year-old in 1998, Williams made her US Open debut in New York, reaching the third round.  The next year, she defeated 1997 Open champion Martina Hingis in the final, surprising many, who had expected older sister Venus to be the first in the family to win a major championship.  Through the beginning of 2017, Serena won 22 more major championships, twice holding all four major championships at the same time (the so-called “Serena Slam”).  A player with an overpowering serve and powerful groundstrokes, she was ranked number one for the first time on July 8, 2002.  She set the record of 186 consecutive weeks as the world’s number one ranked women’s singles player.  Through early 2017, Serena had also won 14  major doubles titles, two major mixed doubles championships, and four Olympic gold medals, three in doubles. – By Jackson Lu

Ross Wynkoop


Ross Wynkoop (Sports editor.  Born, Midland Park, NJ, Feb. 27, 1898; died, New York, NY, Apr. 25, 1958.)  Rossman H. Wynkoop was the first sports editor of the Bergen Evening Record of Hackensack, N.J., the paper now known as The Record.  After a year as a sportswriter and photographer at the Asbury Park (N.J.) Evening Press, Wynkoop served with the U.S. Shipping Board in World War I and joined the Record in 1919.  He began the paper’s first sports column in 1920.  Two years later, Wynkoop exposed Joe Jackson, banned star of the infamous “Black Sox” who played semi-pro baseball under an alias, when Jackson appeared in Hackensack.  In 1925, he and his scholastic sports editor, Bill Madden, produced a full newspaper page of copy after Hackensack H.S. stopped Passaic (N.J.) High School’s 159-game winning streak.  On June 9, 1930, Wynkoop became managing editor of the paper, a position he held until his death.

Whit Wyatt


Whit Wyatt (Baseball.  Born, Kensington, GA, Sept. 27, 1907; died, Buchanan, GA, July 16, 1999.)  In a nine-year A.L. career during which he was 26-43 (1929-37), John Whitlow Wyatt was at best a journeyman righthander.  But after a 23-7 season at Triple-A (Milwaukee of the American Association) in 1938, Wyatt was sold to Brooklyn and returned to the majors.  In his first five years with the Dodgers, he was 78-39.  In 1941, Brooklyn won its first pennant since 1920 on the strength of Wyatt’s league-best 22-7.  The Dodgers lost the 1941 World Series to the Yankees in five games, with Wyatt throwing two complete games.  He won Game 2, 3-2, at Yankee Stadium, but lost Game 5, 3-1, despite his six-hitter at Ebbets Field.  At age 34, he was 19-7 as Brooklyn finished second, two games out, in 1942.  Wyatt finished his career in 1945 with the Philadelphia Phillies (0-7) and had a career record of 106-95 (80-45 with Brooklyn).

Roy Worters


Roy Worters (Hockey.  Born, Toronto, Ont., Oct. 19, 1900; died, Toronto, Ont., Nov. 7, 1957.)  Known as “Shrimp” because of his 5’3”, 135-pound stature, Roy Worters was also one of the best N.H.L. goaltenders of the 1920s and 1930s.  Worters was the goalie for the Pittsburgh amateur team that joined the N.H.L. in 1925.  On Nov. 1, 1928, he was traded to the Americans for Joe Miller and $20,000 but refused to report to New York.  Worters was suspended for nearly a month before agreeing to join the Amerks.  Once he arrived, he posted 13 shutouts in 38 games, allowed just 46 goals (1.21 per game) and lifted the Starshirts into the playoffs.  Worters produced nearly 150 minutes of shutout hockey in the playoffs but the Americans were eliminated, 1-0, by the Rangers on Butch Keeling’s goal at 9:50 of the second overtime of the second game of their two-game, total-goals series Mar. 21, 1929.  The little goalie won the Hart Trophy as the N.H.L.’s most valuable player in 1930-31.  That year, Worters had eight shutouts and a 1.61 goals-against average, topped the league in minutes, and won the Vezina Trophy for allowing the fewest goals.  After playing every game (48 each season) for two straight seasons, Worters was sideline by hernia surgery Jan. 25, 1937, 23 games into that season, and never returned.  He had a 119-150-71 record in nine years but his record says more about his team than his abilities.

Gump Worsley


Gump Worsley (Hockey.  Born, Montreal, P.Q., May 14, 1929; died, Beloeil, P.Q., Jan. 26, 2007.)  As a good goalie on mostly mediocre teams, Lorne John Worsley was the Rangers’ principal netminder for a decade.  (Once, when asked which team gave him the most trouble, he said, “The Rangers.”)  Worsley came to the Rangers in 1952-53 (50 games) from the Western Hockey League, earned Rookie of the Year honors, and went back to the W.H.L. in 1953-54 and Johnny Bower minded the Rangers nets.  He returned for good in 1954-55 and played another 532 games through 1962-63.  Four teams made the playoffs in the six-team N.H.L. of those days, and Worsley’s Rangers made it four times.  He was often spectacular in losing situations.  On Apr. 5, 1962, in the fifth game of a first-round series at Toronto, Worsley made 56 saves but the Rangers lost, 3-2, in double overtime.  In his years with the Rangers, Worsley had 24 shutouts with a goals-against average generally around 3.00.  He led the N.H.L. in games (70) and minutes (4,200) in 1955-56, and again with 67 and 3980 in 1962-63.  Worsley was traded to Montreal June 4, 1963, in a seven-player deal that brought Jacques Plante to New York along with center Phil Goyette and winger Don Marshall.  With Montreal, he played on four Stanley Cup champions in five years.  One of the last maskless goalies, Worsley played four seasons with the Minnesota North Stars before retiring in 1974.

Len Wooster


Len Wooster (Sports editor.  Born, Brooklyn, NY, Sept. 9, 1874; died, East Meadow, NY, May 25, 1958.)  For almost half a century, Leonard F. Wooster was on the staff of the Brooklyn Daily Times.  Wooster joined the paper (which was founded in 1848) as a copy boy in 1888.  By the turn of the 20th century, he was the sports editor.  In early 1912, Wooster was one of four sports editors of Brooklyn dailies (all of them afternoon papers) who received plans for the new “palatial” ballpark to be built there.  With Wooster in the vanguard, all four poured effusive praise on the new edifice.  It wasn’t until Ebbets Field actually opened in April 1913 that the sports editors realized that the plans did not include a press box.  The Daily Times bought the Standard Union Mar. 9, 1932, with Wooster remaining as sports editor of the combined Times Union.  When the combined paper was sold to the Eagle Dec. 9, 1936, Wooster retired, even though the Eagle continued to print the Times Union until June 7, 1937.  He was twice chairman of the Brooklyn B.B.W.A.A. chapter (1925-26, 1931-32).

Mel Woody


Mel Woody (Sportswriter.  Born, Los Angeles, CA, Dec. 18, 1922; died, Anderson, SC, Mar. 15, 2007.)  As the last writer for the Newark Evening News to cover the baseball Giants, Esteen Melvin Woody also was the last to cover the Mets before the paper folded Aug. 31, 1972.  Woody joined the News in 1947 as a suburban reporter for what was then the largest and most important newspaper in New Jersey.  He moved to sports in 1952 as the night sports editor.  Two years later, Woody went to the Giants beat, where he remained until the team moved to San Francisco, Calif., after the 1957 season.  He also covered New Jersey tennis, college football, and rowing, as well as the Rangers.  In 1965, he became the beat man on the Mets and was covering them in Cincinnati when the paper closed.  Woody went to the Cincinnati Enquirer and became a member of the sports staff almost on the spot, rising to assistant sports editor.  He left to become executive sports editor of the now-defunct Miami (Fla.) Daily News in 1980 and retired in 1988.  Woody served in the Navy during World War II.

Stanley Woodward


Stanley Woodward (Sports editor.  Born, Worcester, MA, June 5, 1895; died, White Plains, NY, Nov. 29, 1965.)  One of the most colorful and respected sports editors in the annals of New York journalism, Rufus Stanley Woodward, Jr., served two terms as head of the sports department at the fabled Herald Tribune.  Woodward played football at Amherst, joined the staff of the Worcester Gazette Jan. 7, 1919, and moved to the Boston Herald in 1922.  In 1930, he came to the Herald Tribune and was named sports editor after the death of George Daley in 1938.  He was recognized as an authority on college football, a dedication that earned him the sobriquet “the Coach.”  But he was not as dedicated to some of the socially prominent sports of the day and in 1948 this resulted in his dismissal by publisher Helen Rogers Reid.  Until 1959, he served as sports editor of the Miami News and Newark Star-Ledger.  In between those assignments, he was sports editor for nearly a year of the short-lived Daily Compass in New York (1952).  After the sale of the Herald Tribune to John Hay Whitney, Woodward was recalled to West 41st Street in Feb. 1959.  He retired (Apr. 1, 1962) four years before the paper closed in April 1966.  Woodward began his first column upon his return, “As I was saying before I was interrupted . . .”, and was credited by his staff members, including Red Smith, Jesse Abramson, Harold Rosenthal, Ed Sinclair, Tommy Holmes, Pete Axthelm, Sid Gray, Irving Marsh, Sam Goldaper, Al Laney, and Harry Carlin, with reviving the style and spirit of what was the city’s best-written sports section.

Wilbur Wood


Wilbur Wood (Sports editor.  Born, Kansas City, KS, Jan. 1, 1892; died, Hollywood, FL, Mar. 18, 1968.)  Among the most important boxing writers of his era, Wilbur Wood became the last sports editor of the original Sun.  Wood became a reporter in 1913 when he joined the old St. Louis Republic.  He later became a sportswriter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch after tours with newspapers in Akron (O.), Cleveland (O.), and Milwaukee (Wisc.).  In 1920, Wood came to New York with the Herald, but few of its staffers were retained when the Herald was merged into the Tribune in March 1924, and Wood went to The Sun.  He focused on boxing with the afternoon paper and was one of the leaders in organizing the Boxing Writers Association.  He served as its first president (1926).  In 1934, The Sun’s sports editor, Joe Vila, died.  Wood was promoted to sports editor, giving up his boxing column, although he continued to write events, including boxing.  A traditional combination was broken when managing editor Keats Speed decided to give the daily column (previously written by the sports editor) to Frank Graham instead.  Wood continued at The Sun until the paper was sold to the World-Telegram Jan. 4, 1950.

Craig Wood


Craig Wood (Golf.  Born, Lake Placid, NY, Nov. 18, 1901; died, Palm Beach, FL, May 8, 1968.)  Head pro at Winged Foot for many years, Craig Ralph Wood was also an outstanding tour golfer who won 34 P.G.A. tournaments.  Wood had his most impressive victories in 1940-42.  He won the Metropolitan Open at Forest Hill Field (Bloomfield, N.J.) in 1940, topping runner-up Ben Hogan by 11 strokes in what was then a P.G.A.-record 264 for 72 holes.  The next year, Wood won both the U.S. Open and the Masters.  In 1942, he won the Met P.G.A. and the Canadian Open.  Wood was a pro in New Jersey before going to Winged Foot and during those years, he won the New Jersey P.G.A. tournament four times (1928, 1930-32) and the New Jersey Open in 1934.  Wood was also a successful Ford dealer for many years.

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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