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

Category Archives: E

Bill Farnsworth

Bill Farnsworth (Sports editor.  Born, Milbury, MA, June 7, 1885; died, New York, NY, July 10, 1945.)  Part of the triumvirate of Hearst newspaper stars who dominated the boxing business in New York in the 1920s, Wilton Simpson Farnsworth was sports editor of the Evening Journal for its last 12 years (1925-37).  Farnsworth teamed with Damon Runyon and Ed Frayne to exert enormous influence over boxing through the Hearst Milk Fund, a charity nominally run by William Randolph Hearst’s estranged wife, Millicent, who remained in New York when “the Chief” moved to California to live with his mistress, actress Marion Davies.  The trio influenced promoters and managers to make fights to benefit the Fund, especially at Yankee Stadium and the Polo Grounds.  The resulting publicity in the Journal and its morning companion, the New York American, where Frayne was the sports editor, was a substantial benefit to fighters.  When the two papers merged in 1937, Frayne was named sports editor of the new Journal-American, an afternoon newspaper.  In August 1937, Farnsworth was hired as manager of the 20th Century Sporting Club by Mike Jacobs, then New York’s leading boxing promoter.  Farnsworth began his career in the Hearst chain in 1904 at the Boston American, became a sportswriter for the Journal in 1907, and two years later became sports editor of the Atlanta Georgian, where he remained before returning to New York.  He died as a result of a stroke suffered at ringside in Madison Square Garden Nov. 17, 1944.

Patrick Ewing

Patrick Ewing (Pro Basketball.  Born, Kingston, Jamaica, Aug. 5, 1962.)  Although his 1997-98 and 1999 seasons were limited by injury, Patrick Aloysius Ewing produced 15 seasons with the Knicks that arguably made him the greatest player in team history.  Ewing holds virtually every club record, including games played (1,039), points scored (23,665), rebounds (10,759), and shots blocked (2,758) for a career.  He helped the club make the N.B.A. Final twice, although in 1999 injuries sidelined him for the season during the Eastern Conference Final against Indiana.  Ewing became the Knicks’ all-time leading scorer on Dec. 16, 1993, when he passed Walt Frazier’s 14,617-point mark.  He earned a berth on the N.B.A.’s “50 Greatest Players” list during the league’s Golden Anniversary season in 1996-97.  He was an 11-time All-Star.  Ewing was one of the hardest-working athletes in any sport and gave 100% effort every time he went on the court.  He was a fine arts major at Georgetown (as well as an all-America center), was involved in many art projects during his career and does his own pastels.  Ewing played one season each with Seattle (2000-01) and Orlando (2001-02) at the end of his active career and then became an assistant coach for Washington.  His No. 33 was retired at a Garden ceremony on Feb. 28, 2003.  He was also a member of the U.S. gold medal-winning Olympic basketball teams in 1984 and 1992.

Weeb Ewbank

Weeb Ewbank (Pro football.  Born, Richmond, IN, May 6, 1907; died, Oxford, OH, Nov. 17, 1998.)  Wilbur C. Ewbank is the holder of one distinction in sports that can never even be equaled.  He is the only man ever to coach both N.F.L. and A.F.L. teams to pro football championships.  He performed the first half of this unique double in New York against the Giants and the second while coaching the Jets.  In 1954, Ewbank became the head coach of the Baltimore Colts, and by 1958 the Colts were 9-3 and won the N.F.L. championship by beating the Giants, 23-17, in overtime at Yankee Stadium.  His Colts were also the N.F.L. titlists in 1959.  In 1963, Ewbank joined the Jets as head coach.  After three straight 5-8-1 seasons, the Jets began to improve under Ewbank and in three seasons from 1967-69, he posted a 29-12-1 regular season record, winning two division championships in the American Football League.  In Jan. 1969, the club and its coach reached their apex, scoring one of the most stunning upsets in pro football history, a Joe Namath-led 16-7 triumph over the N.F.L.’s Colts in Super Bowl III.  Ewbank had started his coaching career as an assistant at Miami University (O.), where he spent 14 years before going to Great Lakes Naval Training Station in 1943 as an assistant under Paul Brown.  Later, he was the head coach of Washington U. in St. Louis for two years.  In 1949, he rejoined Paul Brown as line coach of the Cleveland Browns.

Chris Evert

Chris Evert (Tennis.  Born, Fort Lauderdale, FL, Dec. 21, 1954.)  Like most professional tennis players, Christine Marie Evert has played around the world. Indeed, she won all four “Grand Slam” events, including seven French Opens.  But most fans identify her with the U.S. Open, which she made her own almost from the first moment in 1971 she stepped onto the court at the West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills.  That year, she reached the semifinals as a 16-year-old amateur.  “Chrissie” became the darling of the crowds even after her semifinal loss to Billie Jean King.  Evert was to reach the semifinals of the Open a startling 16 straight years in the process of winning the championship in 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1980, and 1982.  She also made her professional debut in New York in the Lady Gotham Classic held at the Felt Forum in Mar. 1973.  But it was at the Open that she endeared herself to New York.  From 1975 to 1979, she won 31 Open matches in a row and, at one point, took 46 straight sets without a loss.  Evert was ranked as the U.S. No. 1 from 1974-78 and again in 1981, and was No. 1 among women players in the world five times (1974-77, 1980).  Her quarterfinal loss to Zina Garrison in 1989 ended a remarkable career at the Open, where she won 101 of the 113 singles matches she played, both totals being records for women players in the tournament.

Bill Evans

Bill Evans (Baseball.  Born, Chicago, IL, Feb. 10, 1884; died, Miami, FL, Jan. 23, 1956.)  Jumping almost directly from the Cornell campus to the major leagues, William George Evans became an A.L. umpire in 1906 at age 23, the youngest ever.  Evans also wrote extensively about umpiring, including a text, “How to Umpire.”  He umpired in the A.L. for 22 seasons (1906-27), then surprisingly became general manager of Cleveland (1927-36).  Evans was the farm director of the Boston Red Sox (1936-41), president of the Southern Association (1942-46) and general manager of Detroit (1946-51) until he resigned July 28, 1951.

Nick Etten

Nick Etten (Baseball.  Born, Spring Grove, IL, Sept. 19, 1913; died, Hinsdale, IL, Oct. 18, 1990.)  Another player who benefitted from not being draft-eligible during World War II, Nicholas Raymond Thomas Etten hit 89 home runs during his nine seasons in the major leagues, 63 of them with the Yankees from 1943-46.  Etten was acquired when Ed Barrow sent four players and $10,000 to the Phillies for the 29-year-old leftanded-hitting first baseman on Jan. 22, 1943.  He spent eight seasons (1933-40) with seven different minor league teams and had two brief stints with the Philadelphia Athletics.  Etten became a regular with the Phillies in 1941 and hit .311 but slumped to .264 with just eight homers in 1942.  His best season with the Yankees was 1944, when he led the A.L. in homers (22) and drove in 91 runs while hitting .293.  Etten was the A.L. r.b.i. leader with 111 in 1945 and hit .285 with 18 homers.  He was a part-time player in 1946 and was released after the season.  In the days when players still left their gloves on the field when the teams changed sides, a foul ball once rolled into Etten’s glove behind first.  Daily News writer Joe Trimble observed, “Etten’s glove fields better without Etten in it.”  Among the unusual feats of Etten’s 568-game tour with the Yankees was a stretch from July 30 to Aug. 15, 1943.  In the 17 games played, he had 14 hits and 16 r.b.i. but no singles, hitting five of his season total of 14 homers.  Etten was signed by the Phillies in 1947 but lasted only 14 games.

Phil Esposito

Phil Esposito (Hockey.  Born, Sault Ste. Marie, Feb. 20, 1942.)  In his 13th season as one of the N.H.L.’s leading scorers, Philip Anthony Esposito was traded by Boston to the Rangers in a five-player deal Nov. 7, 1975 (along with Carol Vadnais for All-Stars Jean Ratelle and Brad Park, as well as Joe Zanussi) in what was considered at the time the biggest blockbuster trade in N.H.L. history.  Esposito had started obliterating league scoring records in 1968-69 with 77 assists and 126 points, and, with the Bruins, led the league in goals four times and scoring four times.  His 76 goals in 1970-71 (he added 76 assists for 152 points) set the N.H.L. record until Wayne Gretzky scored 92 for Edmonton in 1981-82.  He never approached that level of production with the Rangers, though he helped the Rangers to the 1979 Stanley Cup final, notching eight goals and 20 points in the playoffs that year.  In 422 games for New York (1975-81), his best seasons were 42 goals (1978-79) and 81 points (1977-78).  Esposito served as Rangers captain from Nov. 12, 1975, to Oct. 10, 1978, as general manager from July 14, 1986, to May 24, 1989, and as coach twice (in 1986-87 and again late in 1988-89).  When Esposito relieved Michel Bergeron on April 1, 1989, he lost the final two regular season games and all four playoff games to Pittsburgh.  Six weeks later, he was fired as general manager, concluding three years of constant trading with little evidence of on-ice improvement.  His overall coaching record was 24-21-0.  Esposito also served on the Rangers television crew as a color commentator after retiring as a player in 1981.  A solid 205 pounds as a player, the 6’1” center scored 1,590 career points, with 717 goals in 1,282 games, 184 of those goals and 404 of those points coming with the Rangers.  Esposito began his N.H.L. career with Chicago but his great years were with Boston (1967-75).

Bill Esposito

Bill Esposito (Public relations.  Born, Brooklyn, NY, Sept. 9, 1932; died, East Patchogue, LI, Sept. 9, 1995.)  William Esposito was sports information director at St. John’s for 23 years (1961-84) and served as president of CoSIDA, the college sports information directors’ organziation, in 1976-77.  He was a noted authority on jazz music who lectured extensively on the subject and won a bronze star for gallantry in the Korean War.

Gerry Eskenazi

Gerry Eskenazi (Sportswriter.  Born, New York, NY, Sept. 23, 1936.)  In his more than 40 years at The New York Times, Gerald Eskenazi was lead writer on the Rangers, Football Giants and Jets at various times.  In the 1960s, Eskenazi covered the Rangers and the opening of the current (4th) Garden, which took place in February 1968.  He then moved to the Giants for more than a decade before shifting to the Jets for some 20 seasons.  Eskenazi received a rare press box tribute at Giants Stadium when he covered his final Jets game in 1999.  He continued to contribute pieces to The Times and covered some events in the ensuing years.  Eskenazi also had an active academic career, teaching a sports issues course at St. John’s and a journalism course at Adelphi.  As an author, he wrote 13 books, including biographies of Phil Esposito, Leo Durocher, and Carl Yastrzemski and team histories of both the Football Giants and the Jets.

Julius Erving

Julius Erving (Pro basketball.  Born, Roosevelt, NY, Feb. 22, 1950.)  “Dr. J” was one of the most exciting basketball players of his era and the driving force behind two American Basketball Association championships won by the New York Nets before the A.B.A. merged with the N.B.A. in 1976.  A Long Island native, Erving played collegiately at the University of Massachusetts.  He began his pro career in 1971 with the Virginia Squires.  He came to the Nets, then based at the Nassau Coliseum, in 1973.  During the 1973-74 season, Erving scored 2,299 points, an average of 27.4 per game, tops in the league.  He was also the league’s M.V.P. and led the Nets to their first championship as New York won the Eastern Division title and then defeated the Western champion Utah Stars in the playoffs.  In 1974-75, he scored 2,343 points (27.9 per game) and earned the second of three First Team all-star berths he was to gain while with the Nets.  Erving was the catalyst for another A.B.A. championship the following year when the Nets outlasted the overall regular-season champs, the Denver Nuggets, in the playoff final in six games.  That year, Erving again led the league in scoring with a record 2,462 points (29.3 average) and also had 925 rebounds in 84 regular season games (11 per game).  He averaged 34.7 point a game in the playoffs.  That summer, the two leagues merged and the Nets, facing financial hardship because of, among other things, indemnification payments due to the Knicks, traded Erving to the Philadelphia 76ers, where he was to become one of the N.B.A.’s all-time greats.

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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