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

Category Archives: Sportswriter

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.

Maury Allen

Maury Allen (Sportswriter.  Born, Brooklyn, NY, May 2, 1932; died, Cedar Grove, NJ, Oct. 3, 2010.)  A graduate of City College, Maury Allen joined Sports Illustrated in 1959 following a hitch in the U.S. Army.  In 1962, he moved to the New York Post as a baseball writer and columnist.  Allen left the Post in 1988 to join the Gannett newspapers in nearby Westchester County as a general columnist, retiring June 11, 2000.  A prolific author, he wrote 38 sports books, including Where Have You Gone, Joe DiMaggio? and biographies of Billy Martin, Bo Belinsky, Joe Namath, Reggie Jackson (twice) and Ron Guidry.  Allen was a long-time official scorer in both New York ballparks during his years with the Post.  He also served as the B.B.W.A.A. New York chapter chairman (1971-72).

Dave Anderson

 Dave Anderson (Sportswriter.  Born, Troy, NY, May 6, 1929.)  Among the unusual distinctions Dave Anderson has earned during his career as one of America’s top sportswriters is that he was the last beat writer ever to cover the Brooklyn Dodgers for the Brooklyn Eagle.  Indeed, Anderson was preparing to go to spring training when the Eagle was shut down by the strike that was to lead to its demise in 1955.  By the end of that year, Anderson had moved to the New York Journal-American, where he became the paper’s top writer on hockey and tennis.  He also covered the Dodgers for the afternoon broadsheet and was the last sportswriter to leave Ebbets Field after the Dodgers played their final game there (Sept. 24, 1957).  When the Journal-American merged with two other papers to form the World Journal Tribune in 1966, another strike shut down the operation and on Oct. 1, 1966, Anderson moved to The New York Times.  Five years later, he became one of the regular “Sports of the Times” columnists and, in 1981, was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for distinguished commentary, only the fourth sportswriter at the time ever so honored.  (The others were Herald Tribune yachting writer Bill Taylor, and Arthur Daley and Red Smith, two other “Sports of the Times” columnists.)  During his early years with The Times, Anderson covered principally pro football and boxing, with assignments in baseball, hockey, basketball, golf and tennis.  He earned major awards in both pro football and boxing.  Anderson is also the author of 17 books on several sports and has authored over 300 magazine articles.  Anderson joined the Eagle Aug. 12, 1951, initially reporting to scholastic sports chief Jimmy Murphy.  He began covering baseball (the Yankees and Giants at home) in May 1952, and a year later succeeded Harold Burr on the Dodgers beat.

Harvey Araton

Harvey Araton (Sportswriter.  Born, New York, NY, May 17, 1952.)  After a professional odyssey that took him to all of the other daily papers then operating in the five boroughs, Harvey J. Araton landed at The New York Times in 1991.  Araton became one of the small group of regular writers of the Sports of The Times column, as well as a writer covering sports events.  Following graduation from City University, he joined the Staten Island Advance in 1976.  With the demise of the Long Island Press in March 1977, only the three Manhattan dailies remained within the city limits, and Araton moved to the Post in 1979.  He joined the Daily News in 1983 and became a columnist and sportswriter.  Araton then completed his 15-year journey by moving to The Times, where he has written on a wide range of sports, including baseball, tennis, pro football, and basketball.

Pete Axthelm

Pete Axthelm (Sportswriter.  Born, New York, NY, Aug. 27, 1943; died, Pittsburgh, PA, Feb. 2, 1991.)  Joining the Herald Tribune following his graduation from Yale in 1965, Peter Axthelm covered primarily thoroughbred racing.  After the closure of the paper in April 1966, Axthelm went to Sports Illustrated as a racing writer.  During this time, he completed the first of his five books – a novel and Tennis Observed with Bill Talbert.  Broader vistas opened for Axthelm when he became sports editor of Newsweek magazine, a position he was to hold for over 20 years (1968-88).  Two of his best-known books were published in 1970 – The City Game, an insightful look at basketball in New York, and a record of O.J. Simpson’s rookie season in the N.F.L.  Axthelm later became a frequent guest all-purpose sports authority on television and authored a book on jockey Steve Cauthen.

Larry Babich

Larry Babich (Sportswriter.  Born, The Bronx, NY, Nov. 26, 1935.)  A long-time sportswriter and columnist for the Jersey Journal, Lawrence Babich also had an extensive career as a baseball coach.  During his nearly four decades at the Journal (1960-99), Babich covered Hudson County high schools and colleges and, occasionally, big league teams in all major sports, as well as doing features and columns.  At the start, he was part of a staff that included Lou Greenberg and Fred Cranwell under sports editor Jack Powers and, later, Wayne Witkowski and Mike Spina.  As a coach, Babich mentored New York Tech (1967-72), Jersey City State (1973-85), and the Jersey Pilots of the Atlantic Collegiate League (1973-91).

Judy Battista

Judy Battista (Sportswriter.  Born, New York, NY, Mar. 10, 1966.)  A journalism major at the U. of Miami, Judy Ann Battista later became the first woman sportswriter to cover a pro football team for The New York Times.  Battista began her career as a news reporter for the Miami (Fla.) Herald in 1990, switching to sports in 1992.  In Nov. 1996 she moved to to the sports staff at Newsday.  Battista joined The Times as a sportswriter in Dec. 1998 and covered a wide range of events, including major league baseball.  In 2000, she succeeded Gerry Eskanazi as the lead reporter for The Times on the Jets beat.

Bernie Beglane

Bernie Beglane (Sportswriter.  Born, New York, NY, Jan. 12, 1927.)  Following a 25-year career with newspapers in Queens, Bernard Patrick Beglane became an industrious academic and ubiquitous Associated Press correspondent.  Beglane joined the Long Island Star-Journal in Long Island City in 1952 and later was with the Long Island Press in Jamaica until it closed in March 1977.  He covered everything from bowling to wrestling and was also an active college baseball umpire.  Once the Press shut down, Beglane began his career with the A.P. and also helped to create the sports management program at St. John’s, where he rose to assistant dean.  A demanding but supportive teacher, he was especially effective at developing an intern program that placed dozens of students annually with local professional sports teams.  In his nearly 20 years (1977-96) at St. John’s, his intern program became a model of its type.  With the A.P., Beglane was responsible for coverage of most Long Island colleges, the Islanders and other pro teams, and the Mets for several seasons.

Ira Berkow

Ira Berkow (Sportswriter.  Born, Chicago, IL, Jan. 7, 1940.)  With a tour at the Minneapolis Tribune and nearly a decade at the Newspaper Enterprise Association behind him, Ira Berkow joined The New York Times in 1981.  Berkow became a “Sports of The Times” columnist on a regular basis and his exhibited a willingness to attack perceived injustices both at the college and professional levels of sports.  In one instance, he suggested that the N.B.A. was unreasonable to oppose the entry of teenage non-college players to enter the pro basketball draft.  A graduate of Northwestern’s prestigious Medill School of Journalism, Berkow began his career with the Minneapolis Tribune in 1965 and moved to N.E.A. in 1967, where he stayed through 1976, creating national features and previews on all major sports.  He has also written several books, including one each with Walt Frazier and Rod Carew, another on Oscar Robertson, and an insightful biography on fellow columnist Red Smith (1986).

Neil Best

Neil Best (Sportswriter.  Born, Newark, NJ, Oct. 3, 1960.)  After 11 seasons covering the Giants beat for Newsday, Neil F. Best became the paper’s sports media and sports business columnist in 2005.  Best joined Newsday in 1985, covering high school sports until 1990, when he moved up to St. John’s and Big East basketball.  He moved to the Giants in 1995.  Best started his career with the now-defunct Anchorage Times in Alaska (1983-84).  Joining Newsday, he returned to Long Island, where he graduated Northport High School in 1978 before matriculating at Cornell.

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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