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

Category Archives: K

Jerry Koosman

Jerry Koosman (Baseball. Born, Appleton, Minn., Dec. 23, 1943.) The primary lefthanded starter on two Mets pennant winners, Jerry Martin Koosman was both a 20-game winner and 20-game loser (in successive seasons) in his 12 seasons with the team. Koosman was a durable pitcher who made 30 or more starts all but one of those seasons. He was 17-9 for the world champion 1969 Mets (and 2-0 in the World Series, inclduing the Game 5 clincher) and won the fifth game of the 1973 Series. He was also 1-0 in N.L. championship series games, winning Game 3 in 1973. Koosman’s best season on statistics was 1976, when he was 21-10 with 17 complete games in 34 starts. But the next season, he was 8-20, followed by 3-15 in 1978. After that season, Koosman was traded to Minnesota, where he was 20-13 and 16-13 in the next two years. He was 140-137 for the Mets. His superb rookie season (1968) included a 19-12 record and a 3-0 shutout over San Francisco for the Mets’ first-ever home-opener win (Apr. 17, 1968). He went 11-7 for the 1983 White Sox division champions. Koosman finished with the 1985 Phillies (6-4) and had a career 222-209 record.

Bill Klem

Bill Klem (Baseball.  Born, Rochester, NY, Feb. 22, 1874; died, Miami, FL Sept. 1, 1951.)  Considered by most observers the greatest umpire ever, William Joseph Klem once told players waiting for a call, “It ain’t nothing till I call it.”  When he did call it, Klem rarely missed one in an N.L. career that spanned most of 36 seasons (1905-40).  He started in the Connecticut State League in 1902, went to the New York State League in 1903 and the American Association the following year.  Klem was considered such a good judge of pitches that he worked exclusively behind the plate his first 16 seasons, even after the N.L. went to two-man crews.  He worked a record 108 World Series games, encompassing 18 Series (also a record) starting in 1908 and ending in 1940, Klem worked five straight Series (1911-15) and seven in eight years (1917-18).  He also worked the first All-Star game ever in 1933 in Chicago.  Klem quit briefly in 1928 because he feared that the league would side with Giants manager John McGraw, a ruthless umpire baiter who couldn’t intimidate Klem.  But the league supported Klem and he returned later that season.  At age 66, he injured his knee in 1940 and decided to retire.  Klem (born Klimm) served as the N.L. supervisor of umpires until his death.

Willie Klein

Willie Klein (Sports editor.  Born, Newark, NJ, June 24, 1913; died, Edison, NJ, Feb. 26, 2001.)  Willie Klein’s story could perhaps be entitled “local boy makes good.” In the depths of the Depression (1932), Klein joined the staff of one of Newark’s three daily newspapers, The Morning Ledger, and thirty years later had risen to sports editor of the largest newspaper in the state of New Jersey.  Shortly after he joined the Ledger, the paper merged with the Newark Star-Eagle to form The Star-Ledger and, in 1936, Klein became the principal beat writer on the paper for the biggest local continuing sports story, the Newark Bears of the International League, a farm club of the New York Yankees.  Until the Bears folded in 1949, Klein covered the doings of the local baseball heroes, giving him an opportunity to meet lots of major leaguers before they got to the majors. In 1949, he followed the same path and became a major league baseball writer for The Star-Ledger. Klein stayed on the baseball beat with the New York big league club until 1962. That year, he was appointed sports editor, a position he held for more than 30 years.  During his tenure, the sports staff increased in both the quality and quantity of its writers and the depth of its coverage.  Many observers felt that the superiority of the sports section helped contribute to the survival of The Star-Ledger, outlasting its once much-larger rival, the Newark Evening News, which closed in 1972.

Leonard Koppett

Leonard Koppett (Sportswriter. Born, Moscow, U.S.S.R., Sept. 15, 1923; died, San Francisco, CA, June 22, 2003.) The first sportswriter to subject the games themselves to analytical scrutiny and intellectual father of the basketball play-by-play, Leonard Koppett wrote for three major New York dailies for nearly four decades. A Columbia graduate, Koppett brought his analytical approach to, mainly, basketball and baseball during his career, which began at the Herald Tribune in 1948. A year later, he moved from the desk to basketball coverage both on the college and pro level. Following the college basketball scandals of 1951, more coverage was concentrated on the Knicks (an N.B.A. final team for the first time that year). Koppett was among those who encouraged the adoption of the 24-second clock in the pro league. In March 1954, he moved to the Post, which had the effect of increasing his ability to disseminate his views. Five years later, he persuaded Lester Scott, the publicist, to introduce point-by-point play-by-play typed sheets at college basketball doubleheaders in the Garden. The successful experiment resulted in the universal use of the system in both college and pro basketball. Koppett moved to The New York Times in 1963 and 10 years later persuaded the paper to base him in California to cover New York teams when they went West. He began a 16-year relationship with The Sporting News (1966-82) as a columnist concentrating on thoughtful approaches to what he perceived to be problems in pro sports. Some of his proposed solutions were more practical than others, though all were well thought out and backed by statistical analysis. Koppett was an early enthusiast for the designated hitter. He left The Times to write for a California paper in 1978 but returned for three years (1987-90). Even after leaving The Times a second time, Koppett remained active with newspapers in the San Francisco area. He was the author of 17 books on several sports and numerous articles in national and regional publications.

Moss Klein

Moss Klein (Sportswriter.  Born, Newark, NJ, July 27, 1950.)  Now deputy sports editor of the Newark (N.J.) Star-Ledger, Moss H. Klein was the paper’s Yankees beat writer for 17 seasons (1976-92).  Klein went on the beat four years after joining The Star-Ledger and landed in the middle of a tumultuous period of Yankees history.  His first season marked the reopening of the renovated Yankee Stadium and the first Yankees pennant since 1964.  Previously, Klein had been primarily a basketball writer and was president of the Metropolitan Basketball Writers (1973-75).  He was a columnist for The Sporting News for 10 seasons (1982-91) and served as chairman of the New York chapter of the B.B.W.A.A. in 1983-84.  Klein also co-authored Damned Yankees (with Bill Madden) in 1990.  After leaving the Yankees beat, he worked on the desk of The Star-Ledger and was named deputy sports editor in 1996.  His father, Willie, was the paper’s sports editor for over 30 years (1962-93) and his older brother, Dave, was a sportswriter and columnist there (1961-95).

Walter Koppisch

Walter Koppisch (College football. Born, Pennington, NY, June 6, 1901; died, New York, NY, Nov. 5, 1953.) Ranked among the major names in New York sports in the 1920s, Walter Frederick Koppisch is the only three-time captain in Columbia football history. Koppisch first came to notice in 1921 as a freshman, scoring six touchdowns for a weak Columbia varsity that finished 2-6-0. Captaining the 1922 team as a sophomore, he again ran for six scores, including a 40-yard run that produced a 10-6 victory over Wesleyan and a 63-yard burst against Middlebury. In 1923, Koppisch scored three times (on runs of 66, 48, and 23 yards) in a 21-0 win over N.Y.U.  He opened the 1924 season with a 96-yard kickoff return against Haverford. That season, Koppisch scored 13 touchdowns and his 78 points matched the season total of the fabled Red Grange of Illinois. He and Grange were the halfbacks on Walter Camp’s last all-America First Team that year. Due in great measure to Koppisch’s presence, Columbia was chosen as the opponent for the 1924 dedication of Army’s new Michie Stadium. (The game was a 14-14 tie.) He scored 32 touchdowns in 35 games at Columbia. Koppisch was also a track star, captain of the 1924 Lions team. He tied the world indoor record in the 440 at Buffalo, won the Metropolitan 400, the Buermeyer 500 in the N.Y.A.C. Games at the Garden, and the Met 500. Koppisch played for Buffalo in the N.F.L. in 1925 and eight games for the Football Giants in 1926. He started a career as a stockbroker (1927-40), initially with Hornblower & Weekes, and then became an investigator for the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Dave Klein

Dave Klein (Sportswriter.  Born, Newark, NJ, Mar. 10, 1940.)  Three times in six years, David S. Klein had his work chosen as the No. 1 submission to the Best Sports Stories anthology.  Klein was adjudged the winner in the national compendium in 1974 for his coverage of the Bobby Riggs-Billie Jean King tennis match in Houston, Tex.  He won in successive years (1977 and 1978) for an appreciation of deceased California columnist Wells Twombley and for his story on the Larry Holmes-Ken Norton heavyweight title fight in Las Vegas, Nev.  Klein was with The Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J., for 34 years (1961-95) and, despite numerous digressions, was the primary Football Giants beat writer for the paper.  In addition, he covered six Olympics from 1976 to 1992.  Klein was one of only eight writers to cover the first 32 Super Bowls and is the author of 28 books, including several novels.  Following his retirement from The Star-Ledger, he continued to cover the Giants for team weeklies and on-line services – TGN, Giants News, and E-Giants.

Dave Koslo

Dave Koslo (Baseball. Born, Menasha, WI, Mar. 31, 1920; died, Menasha, WI, Dec. 1, 1975.) Born George Bernard Koslowski, Dave Koslo was a lefthander whose 10 years with the Giants were interrupted by military service in World War II. Koslo came to the Giants in 1941 and was 4-8 before entering the service in 1943. After the war, he led the N.L. in starts (35) and losses (19) in 1946, when he was 14-19, but was 15-10 in 1947. Koslo led the N.L. in e.r.a. (2.50) in 1949, but was 11-14. He threw 15 complete games that year in 23 starts and made 15 relief appearances. Koslo was 10-9 for the 1951 pennant winners and 1-1 in the World Series, when he was a surprise starter in Game 1. Koslo pitched a seven-hitter to win, 5-1, at Yankee Stadium, but was the loser in the sixth (and final) game, allowing four runs on six hits. On Apr. 8, 1954, he was sent to Baltimore for cash. Overall, Koslo was 92-107 in a 12-year career (1941-42, 1946-55) that finished with the Milwaukee Braves.

Joe Klecko

Joe Klecko (Pro football.  Born, Chester, PA, Oct. 15, 1953.)  Despite knee problems that hampered him much of his career, Joseph Klecko was a standout Jets defensive lineman for 11 seasons (1977-87).  A sixth-round draft choice out of Temple, Klecko was the first defensive player ever to make the Pro Bowl at three positions:  defensive end (1981), defensive tackle (1983-84), and nose tackle (1985).  He played just two games in 1982, thanks to a ruptured right knee tendon.  Klecko played only one year of high school football, drove trucks for two years and then was recruited by Temple.  A part of the “New York Sack Exchange” defensive line (with Abdul Salaam, Mark Gastineau, and Marty Lyons), he finished with 77½ career sacks.  He ended his career after playing one season (1988) with Indianapolis.  The Jets in 2004 retired his jersey (#73).  He became a post-Jets games analyst for SportsNet New York in 2010.

Larry Klecatsky

Larry Klecatsky (Rowing.  Born, St. Paul, MN, Aug. 11, 1941.)  Dr. Lawrence J. Klectsky ranks as one of the finest rowers in New York history but it took an accident of military assignment to bring him to New York.  Klecatsky began rowing in 1957 on the Mississippi River as a member of his South St. Paul High School crew.  Both he and his family became influential parts of the Northwest International Rowing Association and he won his first national championship in 1967.  However, the next year Lt. Klecatsky was stationed at the Brooklyn Naval Station and decided to stay on in New York to pursue both his medical and athletic careers.  He joined the New York Athletic Club and has since won more U.S. and Canadian rowing championships than anyone else in the history of the sport.  During most of the late 1960s and early 1970s, he rowed the Elite 150-pound single scull competition in national championship events and continued in that area when the event became Elite Lightweight Single Sculls in 1976, dominating his specialty.  Klecatsky won more than 50 national championships and over 60 Canadian Henley world titles.  He also qualified for the U.S. Olympic team rowing squad in 1976.  While completing his medical studies, Klecatsky developed an interest in emergency medicine and was Director of the Department of Emergency Medicine at the New Rochelle Hospital Medical Center.  He was also an Associate Professor of Medicine at the New York Medical College.

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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