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

Category Archives: F

Benny Friedman

Benny Friedman (Football.  Born, Cleveland, OH, Mar. 18, 1905; died, New York, NY, Nov. 23, 1982.)  An all-America quarterback at Michigan, Benjamin Friedman became a major name in New York football as both a player and coach.  Friedman played with short-lived N.F.L. teams in Cleveland (1927) and Detroit (1928) before joining the Giants for three seasons (1929-31) and then going to Brooklyn for three more seasons (1932-34).  He became the head coach at City College in 1934.  Friedman had previously coached briefly in the N.F.L. (2-0 with the Giants in 1930 and 3-9 for the 1932 season as player-coach in Brooklyn).  He introduced the double-wing formation at C.C.N.Y. in 1936 and his teams were 13-9 over three seasons (1936-38) but then declined.  Friedman resigned after a 4-4 season in 1941 with an eight-year record of 27-31-1.  He had his left leg amputated in 1979 and died of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Ford Frick

Ford Frick (Baseball.  Born, Wawaka, IN., Dec. 19, 1894; Bronxville, NY, Apr. 8, 1978.)  Although his impact on the events was minimal, Ford Christopher Frick left baseball dramatically different than he found it after 14 years as Commissioner.  A graduate of Indiana’s DePauw University, and a former schoolteacher in Colorado, Frick came to New York in 1922 to become a sportswriter.  He worked for the New York American and the Evening Journal and was a part-time sportscaster at WOR.  In Feb. 1934, Frick became director of the National League Service Bureau, the league’s publicity arm.  When John A. Heydler retired, Frick was elected N.L. president Dec. 11, 1934, and took office the following month.  The turmoil created by Commissioner A.B. (Happy) Chandler’s unsuccessful effort to gain a contract extension led to Chandler’s resignation effective July 15, 1951.  At a lengthy meeting in Chicago, Frick was elected commissioner after 16 ballots.  (His major challenger, Warren Giles, soon replaced Frick as N.L. president.)  Frick officially became Commissioner Oct. 8 when he resigned the N.L. presidency.  Frick’s election brought the Commissioner’s office to New York, where it has remained.  The major mark of his term (which lasted until 1965) was the so-called “Maris Asterisk” ruling, which did not actually require an asterisk.  He ruled that Roger Maris’ record 61 home runs in 1961 would be listed separately from Babe Ruth’s 60 in 1927 because Maris’ achievement came in a 162-game season instead of the 154-game schedule in use in 1927.  The ruling was, of course, largely ignored.  What could not be were the five franchise shifts and the expansion of both leagues that changed the face of baseball during his tenure.

Larry French

Larry French (Baseball.  Born, Visalia, CA, Nov. 1, 1907; died, San Diego, CA, Feb. 9, 1987.)  Following a stellar career with Pittsburgh (1929-34) and the Chicago Cubs (1935-41), Lawrence Robert French became a one-year wonder for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1942.  French came to Brooklyn on waivers Aug. 20, 1941, and worked in six games without a decision.  He was brought in to help in the stretch run for the eventual N.L. champion Dodgers despite a 5-14 record with the Cubs that season.  A year later, French pitched the Dodgers into another race, but they finished second by two games.  He was 15-4, led the N.L. in winning percentage (.789), and had a 1.83 e.r.a.  After the season, French went into the Navy.  Stationed at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, he asked to pitch for the Dodgers when possible, but his request was denied.  French ended his career with a 197-171 record and wanted to try for three more wins.  Instead, he wound up with a Navy career, going on active duty again during the Korean War (1950-53), remaining in the reserves and retiring as a captain in 1970.

Ron Frehm

Ron Frehm (Photographer.  Born, Yonkers, NY, Sept. 21, 1942.)  For nearly 40 years, Ron Frehm was a press photographer concentrating primarily on New York sports.  Frehm spent five years (1964-69) with what was then known as Gannett Westchester Newspapers.  In 1969, he moved to the A.P., and became one of their primary sports photographers, covering the Yankees, Mets, and major boxing at the Garden and Atlantic City (N.J.).  Frehm also covered the World Series, Stanley Cup, and N.B.A. playoffs, and the local N.F.L. teams.  He was honored with more than three dozen awards from the New York Press Photographers.  Frehm officially retired in January 2003, although he returned as a freelancer for major events (like the 2003 World Series).

Buck Freeman

Buck Freeman (College Basketball.  Born, New York, NY, Feb. 16, 1902; died, Columbia, SC, Feb. 15, 1974.)  James Ambrose Freeman was a standout player at St. John’s in the 1920’s who became the coach of one of the most famous teams in school history, the “Wonder Five” that compiled a superb record in the 1930s and established St. John’s as a basketball power.  Later, he  served as an assistant coach at both North Carolina and South Carolina, helping Frank McGuire guide the 1957 North Carolina squad to its NCAA championship.  Freeman was a high scorer in the days of low scores.  As a freshman, he averaged 8.2 points per game in 1923-24 and tied for the team lead in scoring. As a junior, the Redmen were 18-7 as Freeman averaged 6.5 and had a 31-point game.  In his senior season, Freeman led the team with a 6.8 average.  Immediately after his graduation, he succeeded John Crenny as the Redmen coach, producing an 18-4 record in 1927-28. In the next three seasons, the “Wonder Five” lost only four games with records of 23-2, 23-1 and 21-1.  He coached at St. John’s for nine years with a 177-31 record and .851 winning percentage, highest ever for a coach with over 200 games.  Overall, the “Wonder Five” was together for four seasons with a record of 88-8. The team consisted of Mac Kinsbrunner, Matty Begovich, Rip Gerson, Max Posnack and Allie Shuckman. St. John’s had a 24-game winning streak before a loss to N.Y.U. on Feb. 7, 1931.  Also during Freeman’s tenure at St. John’s, the Redmen played in Madison Square Garden for the first time, playing a charity game there Dec. 31, 1931, when they beat Manhattan 16-6 and held the Jaspers without a field goal.

Andrew Freedman

Andrew Freedman (Baseball.  Born, New York, NY, Sept. 1, 1860; died, New York, NY, Dec. 4, 1915.)  There have been many colorful and controversial team owners in New York sports, but few as confrontational, combative, and thin-skinned as Andrew Freedman.  Freedman was a politically-connected Democrat with ties to Tammany Hall boss Richard Croker who prospered in real estate and financial dealings of a dubious kind.  He acquired the Giants in January 1895 for a reported $50,000.  Over time, owners of least three other N.L. clubs acquired interests in the Giants, a syndicate style of ownership known as “Freedmanism.”  Freedman, who maintained an estate in Red Bank, N.J., regularly communed with his fellow investors there.  It was not the corruptive influence of sub rosa syndicate ownership, however, that made Freedman’s ownership of the Giants so controversial.  It was his temper.  He barred sportswriter Sam Crane from the Polo Grounds after Crane criticized him, punched another sportswriter for the same transgression, pulled his team off the field in a dispute with an umpire over a supposed anti-Semitic remark by an opposing player, and barred several umpires from working his home games.  These antics led to more criticism and fines from the league.  At one point, Freedman had nearly two dozen lawsuits pending against a single newspaper (The Sun).  He wanted Brooklyn, the team, thrown out of the N.L. after Brooklyn, the city, was consolidated into Greater New York in 1898, because he held “the” New York franchise.  He refused to pay his share of the costs when the N.L. contracted from 12 teams to eight in 1900 even though he insisted on the contraction.  In 1898, he formed the Maryland Fidelity & Guarantee Co. to help finance the new subway system (the I.R.T., which opened in 1904).  Freedman was likewise famed for his disputes with players, making some of them work the gate on days they weren’t in the lineup.  At the end of the 1895 season, he deducted $200 from 24-game winner Amos Rusie for insufficient effort in his last game.  Rusie saw this as a blatant effort to cut his pay, refused to report (holding out for all of 1896), and eventually sued.  With John Montgomery Ward representing him, Rusie won when the other owners gave a year’s pay, and he signed for 1897.  In 1902, a major internal dispute erupted in the N.L. over syndicate ownership.  Freedman had been using his influence to keep a competing A.L. team out of New York.  Whenever the A.L. found a suitable ballpark site, Freedman’s political allies in City Hall would order a street across the property.  Finally, John T. Brush, the Cincinnati owner who was one of the investors in the Giants, bought out Freedman in 1902 and sold his Cincinnati club.  By then, the A.L. had outmaneuvered Freedman by getting Frank Farrell and Bill Devery to back a new team in New York.  They had even more political influence than Freedman.  Among Freedman’s many legacies was, shortly before selling he Giants, bringing to New York John McGraw, whom he hired in July 1902 after McGraw had, in Freedman-like style, alienated A.L. president Ban Johnson.  McGraw managed the Giants for 30 years.  At Freedman’s funeral, August Belmont, II (q.v.) was among the pallbearers.

Tucker Fredrickson

Tucker Fredrickson (Pro football.  Born, Fort Lauderdale, FL, Jan. 12, 1943.)  Everybody’s all-America choice as a running back at Auburn, Ivan Charles Frederickson had a decent career with the Giants despite a series of crippling knee and ankle injuries.  Frederickson was the Giants’ first-round pick (No. 1 overall) in the 1965 N.F.L. draft.  He gained 659 yards on 195 carries (a 3.8 average) as a rookie but missed all of 1966 due to major knee surgery.  Frederickson had another knee operation in 1967 and then ankle and knee complications in 1969.  He came back in 1970 with his best year since 1965, rushing for 375 yards but catching 40 passes for 408 yards and three touchdowns.  Frederickson had gained 486 yards rushing in 1968 but scored just once and caught only 10 passes.  He was throughout his career a fundamental player and fine blocker who helped Ron Johnson, among others, to gain yardage consistently.  In 1971, Bobby Duhon led the Giants in rushing with some help from Frederickson.  Duhon was married to one of Frederickson’s three sisters, Mary Ann.  Frederickson finished his career with 2,209 yards rushing on 651 carries (a 3.4 average) and 128 pass receptions for 1,001 yards.  He scored 18 touchdowns in his six-year career (1965, 1967-71).  For many years, Frederickson ran a restaurant on First Avenue in Manhattan.

Al Frazin

Al Frazin (Public address.  Born, New York, NY, Mar. 21, 1905; died, Satellite Beach, FL, July 9, 1988.)  Alfred Bender Frazin was perhaps the best announcer in the early days of arena public address systems and was so well known that he was frequently included in such non-sports material as comic strips and cartoons as an announcer.  His career began at Madison Square Garden in 1925, when he was the announcer for the New York Americans, the city’s first National Hockey League team.  Frazin’s microphone duties rapidly expanded to include the New York Rangers when they joined the N.H.L. in 1926.  Frazin was also the voice of such diverse Garden events as six-day bike races, the National Horse Show, college basketball, track meets, industrial shows, skating exhibitions and rodeos.  He was also heard as a sports announcer on WMSG, a radio station owned by the Garden corporation.  He came into the business by accident.  As an amateur speed skater, Frazin once filled in as an announcer during a competition and was hired by a Garden executive to work regularly.  In 1942, after working thousands of events before millions of fans, Frazin resigned to join the U.S. Army.  During his 23-year military career, he rose to the rank of Lt. Colonel before retiring in 1965.  One of the finest all-around athletes produced by New York’s McBurney School, Frazin became an avid golfer in his retirement and set a course record in San Francisco with four holes-in-one at the Presidio Golf Club.

Walt Frazier

Walt Frazier (Pro basketball.  Born, Atlanta, GA, Mar. 29, 1945.)  Remembered by many for his flashy lifestyle and stylish dress, Walt Frazier earned the nickname “Clyde” after the lead character in a popular movie of the time.  But his up-tempo public face was only a small part of his well-earned fame.  On the court, the 6’4” Frazier was a powerhouse player both offensively and defensively. His defensive confrontations with Baltimore’s Earl (the Pearl) Monroe are legendary.  Later the two played together and were a major part of the 1973 Knicks championship team.  Frazier was named to the N.B.A. All-Rookie team in 1968 and was a four-time First Team All-Star (1970, 1972, 1974, and 1975). He also earned All-Defensive team honors seven times. In addition to his defensive skills, he was, before Patrick Ewing broke the records, the Knicks’ all-time career scoring leading with 14,617 points in 759 career games (a 19.3 average) and he performed even better in the playoffs, posting a 20.7 average in 93 games.  He also played on both Knicks world championship teams in 1970 and 1973, as well as the 1972 team that lost to Los Angeles in the final.  In the seventh game of the 1970 final series, Frazier had 36 points and 19 assists as the Knicks demolished the Lakers, 113-99.  Frazier later became part of the Knicks television and radio broadcast team.

Joe Frazier

Joe Frazier (Boxing.  Born, Beaufort, SC, Jan. 12, 1944; died, Philadelphia, PA, Nov. 7, 2011.)  A central figure in one of the most celebrated New York sports events ever, Smokin’ Joe Frazier was undisputed world heavyweight champion (1971-73).  Frazier won his first 19 fights (17 by knockout) before taking the New York version of the heavyweight title Mar. 4, 1968, by knocking out Buster Mathis in the 11th round on the first boxing card ever at the then-new Garden No. 4.  He made four successful defenses of that title before winning the vacant world heavyweight title Feb. 16, 1970, with a fifth-round kayo of Jimmy Ellis at the Garden.  Over all of Frazier’s accomplishments was the long shadow of Muhammad Ali, whose refusal to accept military service during the Vietnam era resulted in his being stripped of the heavyweight championship.  (Ali had held the crown from 1964-67.)  Frazier was the 1964 Olympic heavyweight gold medalist and embarked on a pro career in 1965, appearing three times in New York before the Mathis bout.  All of his work was a prelude to his first match with Ali, at the Garden Mar. 8, 1971.  Ali retired and unretired in early 1970, then won twice later in the year.  Thus, for the first time ever, two undefeated heavyweight champions met.  Ali was 31-0, Frazier 26-0.  Frazier knocked down Ali in the 15th round and won a unanimous decision.  After two successful title defenses in 1972, Frazier lost his championship at Kingston, Jamaica, when he was kayoed in the second round by George Foreman.  He had two later bouts with Ali (a 12-round loss at the Garden in 1974 and a 14-round technical knockout by Ali at Manila, The Philippines, in 1975).  Frazier was stopped in five rounds by Foreman at Nassau Coliseum June 15, 1976, and fought only once thereafter.  He finished with four defeats and one draw in 37 career fights.

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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