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

Category Archives: D

Wes Ellis, Jr.

Wes Ellis, Jr. (Golf.  Born, Kansas City, MO, Jan. 27, 1932; died, Teaneck, NJ, June 4, 1984.)  Head pro at the Westchester Country Club for 17 years (1967-84), Wesley B. Ellis, Jr., was also a touring P.G.A. pro.  Ellis won the Canadian Open in 1958 and the Texas Open the next year while on the tour full-time.  He became the pro at Mountain Ridge Country Club, West Caldwell, N.J., in 1961, and promptly became a force in local P.G.A. events, winning the New Jersey P.G.A. title four years in a row (1961-64), the Metropolitan Open in 1963, and the New Jersey Open the same year.  During his occasional returns to the P.G.A. Tour, Ellis won at San Diego (Calif.) in 1965 but rarely toured after shifting to Westchester in 1967.

Al Munro Elias

Al Munro Elias (Statistician.  Born, Charleston, SC, June 5, 1872; died, New York, NY, Aug. 1, 1939.)  A salesman who peddled shoes, shirts, salad oils and other sundry items, Al Munro Elias was to have a profound effect on baseball statistics.  Elias came to New York in 1899 an ardent baseball fan.  While pursuing his trade, he compiled extensive records of baseball players and teams.  In 1913, in concert with his brother Walter B. Elias, he began selling scorecard-like sheets to fans who assembled in saloons and pool halls.  When the Evening Telegram arranged to have Elias supply daily statistics to the paper in 1916, the Al Munro Elias Baseball Bureau was born.  Elias created daily “Top 10” leaders, which soon became a staple of baseball coverage and, in 1919, the Elias Bureau became the official statistician of the National League.  Shortly, the Bureau was handling the International League and a half-dozen other minor leagues.  When Spalding discontinued publishing the “Little Red Book of Baseball Records,” started by Charles D. White in 1926, the Elias Bureau took it over (1937).  By that time, Elias was ill and no longer engaged actively in the business, which was run by Walter for nearly two decades until it was taken over by Seymour Siwoff.

Bill Dwyer

Bill Dwyer (Executive.  Born, New York, NY, Feb. 23, 1883; died, Belle Harbor, NY, Dec. 10, 1946.)  Best known during the early years of Prohibition as the “King of the Bootleggers,” William V. Dwyer became a major force in New York sports.  In 1925, Dwyer bought the distressed Hamilton (Ont.) Tigers for $75,000 and turned them into the New York Americans.  The Amerks, only the second U.S. N.H.L. team, debuted Dec. 15, 1925, at the then-new third Madison Square Garden.  Dwyer, meanwhile, ran afoul of the Feds due to his bootlegging activities and didn’t replace Ted Duggan on the N.H.L. Board of Governors until August 1928, after his release from Atlanta (Ga.) federal prison.  On July 12, 1930, Dwyer and John Depler bought the Dayton (O.) Triangles of the N.F.L. from Carl Storck and moved them to Ebbets Field as the Brooklyn Dodgers.  Dwyer then decided to get into horse racing and in 1931 built Tropical Park Racetrack in Coral Gables, Fla.  For many years, Dwyer operated a racing stable known as Montalvo Stud.  Dwyer bought out Depler and on July 9, 1933, sold the Football Dodgers to Chris Cagle and John (Shipwreck) Kelly.  Financial difficulties caused the N.H.L. to take control of the Americans in 1936 and Red Dutton was placed in charge of the team.  Dwyer’s option to repurchase them expired May 15, 1938, and Dutton bought the club.  In 1939, the Internal Revenue Service won a judgment against Dwyer in Eastern District court (Brooklyn) for $3,715,907 in taxes and penalties dating back to 1922, earning him another “vacation” at public expense.

Red Dutton

Red Dutton (Hockey.  Born, Russell, Man., July 23, 1898; died, Calgary, Alta., Mar. 15, 1987.)  It took a long playing career in six leagues before defenseman Mervyn Alexander Dutton got to New York.  Dutton was traded by the Montreal Maroons to the Americans with left wing Hap Emms and two others for $35,000 May 14, 1930.  He played 276 games over seven seasons with the Amerks, 449 altogether in the N.H.L.  But it was off the ice that Dutton played his majoe roles in Americans history.  He was the team’s coach starting in 1935-36, when he was a playing coach, the next year going full-time behind the bench for what would prove to be the last six seasons of the team’s existence (1936-42).  Dutton was 106-180-50 as coach and took four teams to the playoffs, twice reaching the Stanley Cup semifinals.  As the son of a wealthy Canadian family, Dutton began putting money into the Americans as the financial problems of owner Bill Dwyer grew.  In 1936, the N.H.L. took control of the team and Dutton was appointed caretaker executive.  On May 15, 1938, Dwyer’s option to repurchase the team lapsed and Dutton became the de facto owner.  Though a relatively low-budget operation (compared to the Garden-owned Rangers), the Amerks remained more-or-less competitive thanks to Dutton’s skillful trades and sharp eye for talent.  The outbreak of World War II, however, created problems even he couldn’t overcome.  In 1940-41, the Americans lost 16 players to military service.  For 1941-42, Dutton changed the team’s name to “Brooklyn Americans” but a seventh-place finish in a seven-team league doomed the scrappy club, New York’s first N.H.L. franchise.  Originally suspended “for the duration” of the war, the Americans never built Dutton’s planned arena in Brooklyn and never returned to the league.  Dutton, who blamed Garden management for many of his team’s problems, supposedly placed a curse on the Rangers, reportedly saying, “The Rangers will never win the Stanley Cup again in his lifetime.”  They didn’t.  (The Rangers won their third Cup in 1940 but not again until 1994, seven years after Dutton’s death.)  Dutton, acknowledged as a skilled executive, was president of the N.H.L. (1943-46) after the death of original president Frank Calder.  His effort to revive the Americans in 1947 was thwarted and he retired from hockey, which he began playing as a junior in 1914 prior to his service in the Canadian military during World War I.  He was awarded the N.H.L.’s highest honor for distinguished service to hockey in 1993, winning the Lester Patrick Trophy named for his old archrival, the Rangers coach and general manager.

Olin Dutra

Olin Dutra (Golf.  Born, Monterrey, CA, Jan. 17, 1901; died, Newman, CA, May 5, 1983.)  A touring pro in the 1930s, Olin Dutra won many major tournaments, including the Metropolitan Open and P.G.A. championship in 1932 and the U.S. Open in 1934.

Joe Durso

Joe Durso (Sportswriter.  Born, New York, NY, June 22, 1924; died, Stony Brook, NY, Dec. 31, 2004.)  Known in baseball press boxes as “The Count,” Joseph Paul Durso was an elegant baseball writer for The New York Times for over two decades who later wrote extensively about thoroughbred racing.  In the 1970s, Durso covered primarily the Yankees and then moved to the Mets in the 1980s.  Most of his final decade before retirement in 2001 was spent on the racing beat.  Durso had 17 years’ experience in the news business before becoming a sportswriter in 1964.  Following service as a fighter pilot in the Army Air Corps during World War II, he finished his bachelors’ degree at N.Y.U. and, in 1947, went to the Newark Evening News as a reporter.  Before joining The Times as a copy editor in 1950, Durso spent nearly three years at WINS Radio, where he rose to news director.  He served on the national desk and city desk before returning to sports.  Durso ultimately covered some 25 World Series and 20 Kentucky Derbies, as well as doing a weeknight “Sports of The Times” report on WQXR Radio for 27 years.  He wrote 14 books, including sports topics such as his years with the Yankees, biographies of Casey Stengel, John McGraw, and Joe DiMaggio, histories of Yankee Stadium and Madison Square Garden, and the business aspects of sports.  Durso was chairman of the B.B.W.A.A.’s New York chapter in 1973-74.

Leo Durocher

Leo Durocher (Baseball.  Born, West Springfield, MA, July 27, 1905; died, Palm Springs, CA, Oct. 7, 1991.)  One of the most colorful and controversial figures in the history of New York baseball, Leo Ernest Durocher was a brash and flamboyant man who rose from being an average major league infielder to celebrated managerial mastermind.  Durocher played parts of three seasons with the Yankees as primarily a shortstop in the good-glove, not-much-hit-category. He was traded by the Yankees to Cincinnati in 1930, swapped on to the St. Louis Cardinals in 1933 and came to the Dodgers in 1938.  But he became the Brooklyn manager in 1939 while still the regular shortstop and moved the club up to a third-place finish. The next season, the Dodgers finished second and, in 1941, Brooklyn won its first pennant in 21 years. Two more seconds and two thirds were added before Durocher jumped to the hated New York Giants on July 16, 1948.  He missed the 1947 season when he was suspended by Commissioner Happy Chandler for “conduct detrimental to baseball,” supposedly for consorting with known gamblers.  With the Giants, Durocher achieved outstanding success. He piloted the 1951 Giants to the “Miracle of Coogan’s Bluff” when the club came back from 13 1/2 games behind the Dodgers to win the pennant on Bobby Thomson’s home run in the ninth inning of the final playoff game. In 1954, the Giants rolled to the pennant and upset the favored Cleveland Indians with a stunning four-game sweep in the World Series.  Durocher left the Giants after the 1955 season, later becoming a coach for the Los Angeles Dodgers (1961-64), and he managed the Chicago Cubs (1966-72) and Houston Astros (1972-73).  His N.L. managerial record was 2,008-1,709 (.511).

Ryne Duren

Ryne Duren (Baseball.  Born, Cazenovia, WI, Feb. 22, 1929; died, Lake Wales, FL, Jan. 6, 2011.)  A fearsome hard-throwing reliever, Rinold George Duren recovered from childhood rheumatic fever to play 10 seasons with seven major league clubs.  Duren had his best years with the Yankees (1958-61).  The righthander appeared in 131 games with the Yanks, starting only twice.  Duren was a hard-drinking player who wore extraordinarily thick lens in his glasses.  He generally fired his first warmup onto the screen behind home plate and always told interviewers that he couldn’t see the scoreboard.  Hitters didn’t know whether he was sober or bleary-eyed, but they knew he threw really hard.  From 1958 to 1960, Duren was 12-14 and saved probably 45 games (there were no official saves).  In 1961, he was traded to the expansion Los Angeles Angels May 8 in a five-player deal.

Roberto Duran

Roberto Duran (Boxing. Born, Guarare, Panama, June 16, 1951.)  Roberto Duran cemented his reputation as “The Hands of Stone” (“Manos de Piedra”) when he won the lightweight championship from Ken Buchanan on June 16, 1972 in a Madison Square Garden title fight that resembled a back alley mugging. All of Duran’s savage skills were on display that evening. He battered Buchanan with punches, legal and otherwise, that seemed to come from every corner of the storied venue.  Near the end of the thirteenth round, another Duran onslaught drove the Scottish champion to the canvas.  Buchanan’s corner immediately cried foul, but the referee awarded the match and the championship to Duran. The Panamanian would hold the lightweight title until Feb. 1, 1979, when he resigned the belt to campaign as a welterweight. On June 20, 1980, he won the championship for that division with a 15-round decision over Sugar Ray Leonard in Montreal.  In that bout, Duran reminded the audience that he could box as well as slug. He eluded Leonard’s best shots and confused his opponent with a dazzling array of head fakes and feints. It was a ferocious, masterful performance.  However, Duran’s reputation as boxing’s premier tough guy took a shellacking after he quit during the eighth round of his rematch with Leonard on Nov. 28, 1980.  He would not completely win back his fans until June 16, 1983 when he defied the odds to capture the light middleweight championship against the bigger, faster, and younger Davey Moore in the Garden. On Feb. 24, 1989, he took his comeback even further by winning the WBC middleweight championship with a crafty, 15-round decision over Iran Barkley.  In all, Duran fought 23 title bouts, winning 16 of them during a remarkable 35-year career. He fought his last fight at the age of 50 and retired only after a car accident nearly ended his life.  Duran’s record includes 104 wins, 70 by knockout, with only 16 losses. He won championships in four different weight classes. Most boxing experts rank Duran with Benny Leonard as the two greatest lightweights ever to step into a professional prize fighting ring. – R.L.

Don Dunphy

Don Dunphy (Broadcaster.  Born, New York, July 5, 1908; died, Mineola, N.Y., July 22, 1998.)  Like many of the sportscasters who came to prominence in the 1920s and 1930s, Don Dunphy began his working career with aspirations to be a newspaper sportswriter, but his hopes were dashed when the New York World folded during his senior year (1931) at Manhattan College.  It turned out to be a big break for both Dunphy and generations of boxing fans.  After doing many sports for several New York stations, Dunphy began a 50-year career that was to lead him to ringside for over 2,000 fights, including more than 200 championship bouts.  Dunphy served as the sports director of WINS from 1937 to 1947 and in 1939 he began doing amateur championship fights from Madison Square Garden (the Diamond Belts and the Golden Gloves).  The following year, he began calling professional bouts at the old Queensboro Arena.  Shortly, he succeeded the famed Sam Taub as the voice of the Gillette national radio broadcasts of boxing and worked the second Billy Conn-Joe Louis fight from Yankee Stadium in 1946.  Dunphy was to do another 50 heavyweight championship fights, including one of the most famous of them all, Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier from Madison Square Garden in 1971.  He also appeared in six motion pictures as a sports and boxing announcer and wrote an excellent autobiography.  At Manhattan College, he was a letterman on the track team that won three mile relay races at the Penn Relays.

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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