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

Category Archives: S

C. Vivian Stringer

C. Vivian Stringer  (College basketball.  Born, Edenborn, PA, Mar. 16, 1948.)  When Charlene Vivian Stringer coached Rutgers’ 2000 women’s basketball team to the Final Four, she became the first coach to lead three different schools into the women’s Final Four.  (The Lady Knights lost their semifinal game to Tennessee, 64-54).  Stringer had previously coached both Cheney (Penna.) and Iowa (1993) to the pinnacle of women’s college basketball.  Stringer’s Cheney team played in the first N.C.A.A. women’s championship game, losing to Louisiana Tech, 76-62, at Norfolk, Va., Mar. 28, 1982.  After 11 years there (251-51), she moved to Iowa, where her teams made nine trips to the N.C.A.A. tournament, losing the national semifinal to Ohio State in 1993, the year her husband died and she won national Coach of the Year honors.  Seeking a change of locale, Stringer took the Rutgers job when Theresa Grentz moved to Illinois in 1995.  She brought a stunning 520-134 record to the Lady Knights but faced a formidable rebuilding task.  Stringer’s first two Rutgers teams had losing records, but by 1998 (22-10), she had turned the program around.  Just a regional final loss to eventual national champion Duke prevented Rutgers (29-6) from making the Final Four in 1999.  Stringer guided the 2007 Ladt Knights to another Final Four appearance in 2007 and in Feb. 2008, she became only the fourth coach in women’s college history to win 800 games.  The following month, Rutgers lost to Connecticut in the national quarterfinals.

Ken Strong

Ken Strong (College and pro football.  Born, West Haven, CT, Apr. 21, 1906; died, New York, NY, Oct. 5, 1979.)  An early star for the Football Giants, and rated by most as New York University’s greatest athlete, Elmer Kenneth Strong was the leader of a college football team that enjoyed the greatest success in the school’s history.  And most thought he was a better baseball player.  In 1926, the Violets’ second season under John (Chick) Meehan, N.Y.U. was 8-1, although Strong was not the team’s best player.  He emerged as a major force over the next two years.  Tackle Al Lassman and Strong’s backfield mates Frank Briante and Archie Roberts were among the other luminaries on the 1927 team that finished 7-1-2.  In 1928, Strong became the Violets’ unchallenged leader. N.Y.U. was one of the nation’s top teams despite a 7-2 loss to Georgetown in their sixth game, proving its credentials Nov. 24 behind Strong’s performance at Pittsburgh’s Forbes Field.  Carnegie Tech, then also a national power, had won at Notre Dame the week before behind quarterback Howard Harpster. Strong led the Violets to a convincing 27-13 win that sparked an 8-2 season.  For the season, Strong was the nation’s leading scorer with 153 points,and also led the country with 21 touchdowns to go along with 27 extra points.  He might have done more except for leg cramps in the season-ending loss to Oregon State on Thanksgiving.  After graduation, Strong was much in demand by pro clubs and signed with the Stapleton Stapes on Staten Island, then an N.F.L. member.  When the Stapes folded following the 1932 season, Strong wound up with the Giants, whom he helped lead to the 1934 N.F.L. championship in the famous “Sneakers Game” at the Polo Grounds.  He scored 17 points against the Chicago Bears with two touchdowns, two extra points and a field goal.  The Giants won, 30-13.  When a second version of the American Football League was organized in 1936, the new league’s lucrative offer lured Strong to the New York Yankees for two seasons and he played a year (1938) with Jersey City.  He then returned to the Giants and, despite a back injury, remained with the team off and on through 1947.  He was primarily a placekicker after his back injury and when he finally retired as an active player, he held the Giants career scoring record with 351 points in eight seasons.  He had 147 extra points for the Giants, including one streak of 67 straight, a startling skein for that time.  Strong was a Giants assistant coach from 1962-65.

Michael Strahan

Michael Strahan (Pro football.  Born, Houston, TX, Nov. 21, 1971.)  The Giants’ career sacks leader, Michael Anthony Strahan, a second-round draft choice out of Texas Southern, missed seven games as a rookie with a foot injury. Strahan joined the starting lineup as a defensive end in 1994, his second season, and began to fulfill the promise originally held out for him after he recorded 19 sacks as a college senior. His breakthrough season came in 1997 when he had 14 sacks, the most by a Giant since Lawrence Taylor’s 15 in 1989. In each of the next six years, he was named to the N.F.C. Pro Bowl squad and made virtually every All-Pro team, including those of The Associated Press, The Sporting News, and Sports Illustrated. Strahan continued to rank as one of the top defensive ends in 1998 (when he had 15 sacks). Strahan became the N.F.L.’s single-season record holder for sacks in 2001 with 22 1/2, but the record came with controversy. In the waning minutes of the season’s final game, Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre appeared to meekly lay down to await Strahan’s touch. One of the highlights of his 1999 season was a 44-yard interception return in overtime for the winning touchdown Oct. 31 at Philadelphia.  In 2006, he broke the team sacks record held by Taylor (though Taylor’s total does not include 9 1/2 sacks in 1981, the year before the statistic became official), and, in his last game, the 2008 Super Bowl, he added one last sack as the Giants beat New England, 17-14.  He finished his career with 141 1/2 sacks and seven Pro Bowl selections.  Strahan, who later became a football television commentator, had one letter in high school in Texas before graduation from Mannheim American H.S. in Germany, where his father was in business. He is a nephew of Art Strahan, also a Texas Southern star, who played defensive tackle for the Atlanta Falcons in 1968 and spent six seasons in the Canadian Football League.

Darryl Strawberry

Darryl Strawberry (Baseball.)  Born, Los Angeles, CA, Mar. 12, 1962.)  Cocaine destroyed the career of a likeable, popular slugger who might have been New York’s biggest baseball hero since Babe Ruth.  Darryl Eugene Strawberry defeated colon cancer but couldn’t whip his addiction.  The No. 1 selection overall by the Mets in the June 1980 amateur draft, Strawberry debuted with the Mets in 1983, a year after leading the Texas League in homers (34).  His first year saw him hit 26 homers in 122 games and win N.L. Rookie of the Year honors.  Strawberry hit 252 homers, scored 662 runs, and drove in 733 in eight seasons with the Mets (1983-90), an average of over 31 homers per season.  At age 28, with his peak years still to come, he signed a $20¼ million five-year free agent contract with Los Angeles (then the second-largest deal ever).  He hit 28 homers with 99 r.b.i. in 1990 but then a spate of legal and off-field problems began to appear (including charges of spousal abuse).  Strawberry was admitted to drug rehabilitation and traded to San Francisco.  On Feb. 6, 1995, he tested positive for cocaine, was suspended for 60 days, and released by the Giants.  Following an apparent recovery, he signed with St. Paul (Minn.) of the independent Northern League and then with the Yankees in July.  Strawberry helped the Yankees to win pennants in 1996 and 1998 but then came another set of disturbing events.  At the end of the 1998 season, he was diagnosed with colon cancer.  After an inspiraitonal survival, Strawberry was preparing to return to the team, working out at the training complex in Tampa, Fla., when he was arrested Apr. 14, 1999, for drug possession and soliciting an undercover policewoman.  He entered a no-contest plea to the charges and was suspended for 120 days.  Strawberry finally returned to hit three more homers in 49 late-season at-bats and contributed two more homers in the post-season as the Yankees won their third World Series title in four seasons.  But on the first day of spring training, 2000, it was revealed that Strawberry had failed another drug test Jan. 19, and on Feb. 28, he was suspended by baseball Commissioner Bud Selig for the entire season.  In the eight seasons from 1992-99, Strawberry hit only 54 homers in 1010 at-bats but still showed 335 homers with 1000 runs batted in for his 17-year career.  He became the first man ever to play for the Mets and Yankees as well as both former New York teams (the Giants and Dodgers), yet left many wondering what his mighty talent could have produced if unalloyed with cocaine.

Ray Stubblebine

Ray Stubblebine (Photographer.  Born, Philadelphia, PA, June 16, 1946.)  A versatile photographer who has covered Presidential inaugurations, the Jonestown massacre in Guyana, and even “Iran-scam” hearings, Raymond F. Stubblebine built his reputation primarily in sports.  Stubblebine was with the A.P. for 16 years (1971-87) and Reuters starting in 1989.  He has photographed spring training, the World Series, the Super Bowl, and playoffs in baseball, the N.F.L., the N.B.A., and the N.H.L.  Prior to joining the A.P., Stubblebine was with the Philadelphia Bulletin for three years (1968-71) and with Newsday in 1987.  He twice won the A.P. Managing Editors’ photographer’s performance award (1977 and 1983) and has won more than 65 awards from the New York Press Photographers, including first-place honors some 20 times.

Stan Stutz

Stan Stutz (Pro basketball.  Born, Worcester, MA, Apr. 14, 1920; died, New Rochelle, NY, Oct. 28, 1975.)  An original Knick in 1946, Stanley Modzelewski (Stutz) was also the only coach in the one-season pro history of the New York Tapers.  Stutz set a national collegiate scoring record at Rhode Island State (1938-42) with 1,730 points in 81 games (21.4 average).  Following military service, he joined the original Baltimore Bullets in the first A.B.L. in 1945, leading the league in scoring (12.2) as the team won the league title.  Stutz then came to the Knicks when they were formed in 1946.  After two seasons (1946-48, 113 games, 7.2 points per game), he rejoined Baltimore, which had now jumped to the B.A.A. after two A.B.L. championships in three years.  Stutz then refereed in the N.B.A. for nine seasons (1949-58) before turning to coaching.  He succeeded Hank Rosenstein as coach of the Tuck Tapers when the former A.A.U. team entered the new A.B.L. in 1961.  In the league’s only full season, the Tapers (who began the season in Washington, D.C., and then moved to the Long Island Arena in Commack, L.I.) were 31-50.  Stutz later became a vice president of the Tuck Tape Corp. in New Rochelle, N.Y.

Jack Sulger

Jack Sulger (Rowing.  Born, New York, NY, Mar. 20, 1913; died, New York, NY, Jan. 2, 1979.)  One of the most popular and successful coaches in his sport, John J. Sulger was a major force in rowing for over 35 years.  Sulger was a six-time national champion as an oarsman, but earned his greatest distinctions as a coach and official.  He was the coach of the New York Athletic Club’s rowing team for nearly 30 years, from 1950 until his death.  He was manager of the U.S. team for the 1959 and 1963 Pan American Games.  In between, he handled the U.S. rowing team for the 1960 Olympics in Rome.  Sulger was a member of the board of directors of the U.S. Olympic Committee from 1953-72 and also served as president of the National Association of Amateur Oarsmen.  He was a member of the New York Police Department from 1941-69, a graduate of Fordham, held a B.L. from St. John’s and a Master of Laws from New York University.  He was admitted to the bar in 1954 and was a professor at John Jay College for nearly 15 years (1965-79).

Tara Sullivan

Tara Sullivan (Sportswriter.  Born, New York, NY, June 20, 1968.)  In less than a decade, Tara Pauline Sullivan rose from a writer covering high school sports to the beat writer following the Football Giants.  Sullivan joined Newsday in 1993, handling the school beat, and moved in the middle of the following year to the Daily News.  There, she started with high school sports but also began covering women’s basketball.  In 1996, Sullivan switched to The Record (Hackensack, N.J.) as a sports enterprise and feature writer.  She subsequently not only became the main lead writer on the Giants but also handled colleges and some major league baseball.

Bob Sutton

Bob Sutton (College football.  Born, Ypsilanti, MI, Jan. 28, 1951.)  Only Red Blaik served longer as head coach of Army football than Robert Eugene Sutton, who also spent eight years as West Point’s defensive coordinator (1983-90).  Sutton served nine years (1991-99) as head coach with a 44-55-1 record.  His 1996 team was the first Cadets squad to win 10 games and earned an Independence Bowl bid, but lost to finish 10-2.  Sutton also won five of nine games against Navy.  In 2000, he became the Jets linebackers coach under Al Groh and was retained by Herman Edwards and, later, Eric Mangini.  From 2006-08, Sutton was the team’s defensive coordinator.

Bill Summers

Bill Summers (Baseball.  Born, Harrison, NJ, Nov. 10, 1887; died, Upton, MA, Sept. 12, 1966.)  Reputedly an above-average boxer in his youth, his reputation undoubtedly helped William Reed Summers keep things in check during his 27-season career (1933-59) as an A.L. umpire.  Summers worked 10 years in the Eastern League before moving to the I.L.  He umpired in eight World Series, the first in 1936 and the last in 1959.  Summers also did seven All-Star Games, including 1959.  Later research indicated that his official birth year of 1895 was inaccurate and that he was actually 71 during his final season, making him the oldest regular umpire ever.

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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