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

Category Archives: General

Mike Tyson

Mike Tyson (Boxing. Born, Brooklyn, NY, June 30, 1966.)  Fury unleashed burst into the ring on Mar. 6, 1985 when heavyweight Mike Tyson made his professional debut against Hector Mercedes in Albany, N.Y. At the opening bell, Tyson raced from his corner to launch an attack so vicious that the older, more experienced Mercedes had to be carried from the ring by the end of the round.  This was the first of Tyson’s nineteen consecutive knockouts.  Writers were soon comparing the young fighter to the great KO artists of past eras, particularly Rocky Marciano and Joe Frazier.  Like those two former heavyweight champions, Tyson could dispatch an opponent with either hand.  But that is where the similarity ended. Frazier and Marciano were both plodding fighters, willing to absorb punishment as they worked inside to deliver their own lethal punches.  But, with the help of veteran trainer Cus D’Amato, Tyson developed an elusive, bobbing-weaving style that made him surprisingly difficult to hit.  Tyson quickly transformed the heavyweight division into a shambles. On Nov. 26, 1986, only twenty months after his pro debut, he knocked out Trevor Berbick in the second round to win the World Boxing Council heavyweight crown. Barely 20, he was the youngest man to ever hold the title.  Over the next year, Tyson would become the undisputed king of the heavies by winning a pair of 12-round decisions over WBA titleholder Bonecrusher Smith (Mar. 7, 1987) and International Boxing Federation champion Tony Tucker (August 1, 1987).  By 1990, Tyson was 37-0 with an astonishing 33 knockouts. The champion appeared to be unbeatable when he entered a Tokyo ring on Feb. 11, 1990, to fight the relatively unknown James “Buster” Douglas. Las Vegas bookmakers had listed Tyson as a 45-1 favorite on the afternoon of the fight. But Douglas gave Tyson a fearsome boxing lesson, beating him to the punch repeatedly. In the 10th round, Douglas’s crushing overhand right put down Tyson for the count.  Tyson recovered from that loss with four straight wins to reestablish himself as a top heavyweight challenger. In 1991,  he was about to sign for another title fight when an Indiana rape conviction sent him to prison for 3½ years. Tyson resumed his career shortly after his release and soon won back both the W.B.C. and W.B.A. titles. However, on Nov. 9, 1996, Evander Holyfield, a 27-1 underdog, made Tyson a former champion once again with an 11th round TKO. After that defeat, Tyson remained a contender but his two efforts to regain the heavyweight throne failed. – R.L.

Giovanni Savarese

Giovanni Savarese (Soccer.  Born, Caracas, Venezuela, July 1, 1970.)  As the first goal-scoring star of the MetroStars, Giovanni Savarese set career records in just three seasons that were standing almost a decade later.  Savarese who also set records at L.I.U., scored 41 goals in 85 games for the M.L.S. team in its first three seasons (1996-98).  He had the team’s first-ever goal Apr. 13, 1996, in a 2-1 loss at Los Angeles (in the Rose Bowl).  Later that season, he posted the team’s first multi-goal game (May 4) and hat trick (May 16 vs. Dallas in a 3-2 win).  Savarese had 10 multi-goal games for the MetroStars before being traded to New England Jan. 20, 1999, in part of a three-team deal.  He later played briefly for San Jose (four games in 2000).  At L.I.U., Savarese netted 50 goals in 71 games (1990-93), was the Northeast Conference Player of the Year in 1992 (when he scored 21 times) and an All-American in 1993.  He played for the Venezuela national team and the Long Island Rough Riders whom he led to the U.S.I.S.L. championship in 1995 (scoring 23 goals plus 10 in the playoffs).  Savarese became the MetroStars’ ninth-round draft choice in 1996 (89th overall).  Both of his parents were born in Italy and he speaks four languages.

Frank Hammond

Frank Hammond (Tennis.  Born, New York, NY, Oct. 16, 1929; died, Staten Island, NY, Nov. 23, 1995.)  Considered the first full-time tennis chair umpire during the 1980s, Frank M. Hammond had his most famous moment in 1979 when he was removed from the chair during a U.S. Open match.  On Aug. 30, third-seeded (and eventual tournament champion) John McEnroe defeated Ilie Nastase, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, in a match that was completed after Hammond defaulted Nastase following a series of antics only to have the night crowd at the U.S.T.A. National Tennis Center create a near-riot.  After an 18-minute delay, tournament referee Mike Blanchard removed Hammond and took the chair.  Hammond, who began as a linesman in 1968 at the Open, had extensive umpiring experience at other events.  He subsequently umpired at the Australian Open, Madison Square Garden, the U.S. Pro championships, and on the Grand Prix Circuit.  He died of Lou Gehrig’s Disease (A.L.S.).

Alice Marble

Alice Marble (Tennis. Born, Plumas County, CA, Sept. 28, 1913; died, Palm Springs, CA, Dec. 13, 1990.) Perhaps the forerunner of the modern woman tennis player, Alice I. Marble introduced an athletic and aggressive style to the game that helped make her the No. 1-ranked woman in the U.S. from 1936 to 1940. She was the first serious serve-and-volley player among the women, moving into the U.S. top ten in 1932 with a smash and volley style that was then unique. Her career was nearly ended before it got into gear when she was sidelined for almost two years with pleurisy complicated by anemia (it was originally diagnosed as tuberculosis). In 1936, when she applied to play at the U.S. Championships at Forest Hills, the committee rejected her application on the basis that she was too weak to play. After a week’s hard practice, she convinced them to allow her into the draw and she won the tournament, defeating defending champion Helen Hull Jacobs in the final, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2. Marble, who was ranked in the U.S. top ten seven times, won three straight U.S. titles from 1938 to 1940 with victories, in order, over Australian Nancye Wynne (6-0, 6-3 in 1938) and Jacobs twice (6-0, 8-10, 6-4 and 6-2, 6-3). She accomplished a rare “double triple” in 1939 winning the singles, doubles and mixed doubles at both Wimbledon and Forest Hills the same year. Her mixed partner was Bobby Riggs. She turned professional in 1940, bowing out of the major international events most of which were not being held anyway due to the start of World War II.

Bob Mandt

Bob Mandt (Born, Woodhaven, NY, Mar. 24, 1936; died, Whitestone, NY, Oct. 3, 2010.) Among the first to be hired, Robert L. Mandt turned out to be the longest-serving Mets employee. Mandt started as a ticket clerk before the 1962 season, working out of locations at the Hotel Martinique on 34th Street and on the Long Island Railroad concourse at Pennsylvania Station. He became the season box manager at the Polo Grounds in 1963 and the Mets ticket manager when Shea Stadium was opened in 1964. Mandt rose to vice president of the club in 1983 and for 20 years was responsible for stadium operations. The St. John’s graduate retired after the 2003 season.

Buck Ewing

Buck Ewing (Baseball.  Born, Hoaglands, OH, Oct. 10, 1859; died, Cincinnati, OH, Oct. 20, 1906.)  Although considered primarily a catcher, William Ewing played every position on the diamond during his 18-year career (1880-97).  A lifetime .303 hitter, Ewing caught in only 636 of his career 1,315 games, but was thought by contemporaries to be the best at that position, unequalled in his time.  He was another player the Giants acquired from the defunct Troy (N.Y.) club they replaced in the N.L. in 1883.  Ewing played in New York through 1892, serving as player-manager for the Players League club in 1890 and spending the other nine seasons with the Giants.  After leaving the Giants, he spent two seasons with Cleveland (1893-94) and three with Cincinnati (1895-97).  He caught only once in the final 326 games of his career.  Ewing managed Cincinnati for five years (1895-97) and 64 games (21-41) for the last-place Giants in 1900.

Don Drysdale

Don Drysdale (Baseball. Born, Van Nuys, CA, July 23, 1936; died, Montreal, P.Q., Canada, July 3, 1993.) Signed in June 1954, Donald Scott Drysdale made the big leagues in 1956. Drysdale, an intimidating 6’6” righthander, was 11-11 at Montreal in 1955 and made the Brooklyn club the following spring training. He was 5-5 and gave up two runs in the seventh inning of the fourth game in relief in his only World Series appearance. In 1957, Drysdale, flashing the form that would lead to his Cy Young status, was 17-9. He was, however, the starter and loser for Brooklyn in the last game against the Giants in New York, Sept. 9 at the Polo Grounds. After the Dodgers went to Los Angeles in 1958, Drysdale blossomed. His active career ended in 1969 with a 209-166 record. Drysdale then became a successful broadcaster (ABC-TV and the Dodgers) and married basketball star Ann Meyers.

Mike Donlin

Mike Donlin (Baseball.  Born, Peoria, IL, May 30, 1878; died, Hollywood, CA, Sept. 24, 1933.)  When the Giants swapped outfielders with Cincinnati July 3, 1904, Moose McCormick went to the Reds and “Turkey Mike” Donlin came to New York.  It remains speculation whether John McGraw would have made the trade had he known that Donlin had show business aspirations.  As it was, Donlin’s off-again, on-again baseball career was impressive.  In 12 seasons scattered from 1899 to 1914 with six teams, he produced a .333 career batting average on 1,287 hits with 213 stolen bases.  Married to vaudeville star Mable Hite, Donlin took frequent seasons off to tour on stage and later to undertake a movie career.  When he played, though, he was good.  Donlin played on the Giants’ 1904 and 1905 N.L. champions, hitting .356 in 150 games in 1905.  Limited to 37 games by a broken leg in 1906, he took 1907 off.  In 1908, Donlin hit .334 in 155 games for a Giants team that felt it had won another pennant but, after the season ended, lost a replay of a tie with Chicago that was forced by “Merkle’s Boner.”  Donlin then went back to the stage, not returning until 1911, when the Giants sold him to Boston for cash after he hit .333 in 12 games.  In Dec. 1912, Donlin refused to report to Philadelphia when waived by Pittsburgh, but did pinch-hit in 35 games for the 1914 Giants.

John DeWitt

John DeWitt (College football.  Born, Phillipsburg, NY, Oct. 29, 1881; died, New York, NY, July 28, 1930.)  A three-year starting guard, leading field goal kicker, and twice an all-American, John Riegel DeWitt scored all of Princeton’s points in an 11-6 victory over Yale in 1903.  In that game, DeWitt ran 65 yards with a blocked kick, kicked the extra point, and added a 53-yard field goal in the second half.  He was a starter from 1901-03 and an all-American each of the last two years.  In the 1902 Cornell game, DeWitt kicked field goals of 50 and 55 yards and later that year a 53-yarder against Yale.  Also a member of the track team, he set a 16-pound hammer throw record of 164’10” in the I.C.4A. championships in New York.

Frank Dascoli

Frank Dascoli (Baseball.  Born, Canterbury, CT, Dec. 26, 1915; died, Danielson, CT, Aug. 11, 1990.)  He moved up to the N.L. with rapidity, but Frank Dascoli moved out the league even more quickly.  Dascoli started umpiring in the Eastern Shore League in 1946, by June moved to the Canadian-American League and was in the I.L. by 1947.  He worked his first N.L. game July 4, 1948.  Dascoli drew premium assignments regularly in the 1950s:  the All-Star Games in 1951 and 1957 and the World Series in 1953, 1955, and 1959.  He played a pivotal role in the 1951 pennant race, ejecting Brooklyn catcher Roy Campanella from a Sept. 27 game at Boston that the Dodgers lost, 4-3.  That loss helped the Giants tie for the N.L. pennant.  Dascoli was summarily dismissed Aug. 10, 1961, after he engaged in a heated radio debate with Cardinals manager Solly Hemus.  He called N.L. president Warren Giles “incompetent and spineless [in the] handling of umpires” after criticizing the league for its lack of support for its arbiters.

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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