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

Category Archives: G

Steve Gutman

Steve Gutman (Executive.  Born, The Bronx, NY, Jan. 24, 1935.)  After being named Jets president June 14, 1988, succeeding the late Jim Kensil, Steve Gutman became one of the most respected chief executives in the N.F.L.  Upon the death of owner Leon Hess (May 7, 1999), Gutman was named in the owner’s Will to assist his estate in the sale of the club.  Following the sale to Robert Wood Johnson, IV, he remained as the club’s president.  Prior to joining the Jets in 1977, Gutman had wide experience in administrative and financial matters as well as being considered a fair but skilled negotiator.  Holder of a B.S. and M.B.A. from N.Y.U., Gutman has also been honored for his many charitable activities, including the Red Cross and United Way.  Before becoming Jets president, he was the team’s secretary-treasurer and chief administrator.  Gutman retired March 1, 2001.

Dan Gurney

Dan Gurney (Auto racing.  Born, Port Jefferson, NY, Apr. 13, 1931.)  During his 15-year career, Daniel Sexton Gurney became justly known as one of the best and most versatile race car drivers produced in America.  His win in the 1967 Belgium Grand Prix, driving his own Eagle, was the first Grand Prix victory by an American in 46 vears.  Gurney started driving professionally in 1955 and in 1963 won the Manufacturers’ 500 in New York.  In 1964, he ranked sixth in the world (the highest of any U.S. driver) and also won the Grand Prix races at Rouen, France, and Mexico City.  In 1966, when Bridgehampton, L.I., was one of the major stops on the world racing tour, Gurney won that segment of the Can-Am series (Sports Car Club of America).  In 1967 and 1968 he was again the highest-ranking American in the world Grand Prix standings.  By the time of his retirement in 1970, Gurney had won 37 races in 18 countries on 25 different car makes and had finished second twice in the Indianapolis 500.  He won seven Formula I races, five NASCAR stock events and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

William Gummere

William Gummere (College football.  Born, Trenton, NJ, June 24, 1850; died, Newark, NJ, Jan. 26, 1933.)  As a Princeton undergraduate, William Stryker Gummere was a prime mover (with William S. Leggett (q.v.) of Rutgers) in the creation of what became intercollegiate football.  In response to a challenge, the two schools met Nov. 6, 1869, at Rutgers in a soccer-like game known as “football,” setting the sport in motion in the U.S.  Rutgers won, 6-4.  Princeton won the rematch, 8-0, and did not lose another football game to Rutgers until 1938, when the Scarlet Knights dedicated their Stadium.  Gummere became an attorney, was appointed to the New Jersey Supreme Court in 1895 by Governor George T. Werts, and served as Chief Justice from 1901 until his death.

Luther Halsey Gulick

Luther Halsey Gulick (Executive.  Born, Honolulu, H.T., Dec. 14, 1865; died, South Casco, ME, Aug. 13, 1918.)  At least partial credit for the invention of basketball goes to Dr. Luther Halsey Gulick.  Gulick was Dr. James Naismith’s supervisor at the Springfield (Mass.) Y.M.C.A. school in 1891 when he urged Naismith to create “an indoor game” to engage the attention of the students between the end of outdoor activity in the fall and its resumption in the spring.  The result was basketball.  An N.Y.U. graduate (1889), Gulick returned to New York in 1903 and co-founded (with General Wingate) the Public Schools Athletic League.

Ron Guidry

Ron Guidry (Baseball.  Born, Lafayette, LA, Aug. 28, 1950.)  Though he was almost 27 when he became a regular starter for the Yankees, lefthander Ronald Ames Guidry was one of the best and most exciting pitchers of his era, and for about a year and a half, he was perhaps the best pitcher in baseball history.  A three-time 20-game winner, Guidry’s 25-3 record in 1978 pitched his team to a World Series title.  Guidry not only had an .893 winning percentage in 1978 but also led the A.L. with a 1.74 earned run average (lowest in the A.L. in the last 32 years of the century) and nine shutouts (most by an A.L. lefty since Babe Ruth in 1916).  He won 20 games twice more in his career, 1983 (21) and 1985 (22), and was also the A.L. e.r.a. leader in 1979.  Guidry’s torrid streak started July 23, 1977.  He closed the season 10-2 with a 2.18 e.r.a. and then went 2-0 in the postseason.  Adding postseason figures, he was 39-5 from mid-1977 through the end of 1978.  On June 17, 1978, Guidry struck out 18 Angels on a Saturday night in a 4-0 win at Yankee Stadium (most ever by an A.L. lefty).  He was the unanimous choice for the A.L. Cy Young Award and finished second (to Jim Rice) in the 1978 M.V.P. voting.  In 1983, Guidry had 21 complete games in 31 starts.  He also won one game in each of the A.L.C.S. and World Series in 1977 and 1978, and was the winning pitcher in the famous one-game A.L. East Division playoff game in 1978 at Boston, which the Yankees won 5-4.  Guidry’s career produced a 168-88 record for a winning percentage of .656, the 10th-highest ever.  After several seasons as a spring training instructor, he became Yankees pitching coach in 2006.

Richie Guerin

Richie Guerin (College and pro basketball.  Born, The Bronx, NY, May 29, 1932.)  It may be safely said that Richie Guerin is the man who put Iona College basketball on the map.  Although there were other fine players on Gaels teams before Guerin’s first varsity season in 1951-52, his exploits elevated the New Rochelle school to a higher level.  As a sophomore, Guerin scored 464 points in 27 games (17.2 per game) and led the Gaels to their third straight appearance in the National Catholic College Invitational post-season tournament. That season, Iona also made its debut in Madison Square Garden.  In 1952-53, Guerin upped his scoring average to 18.7 with 392 points in 21 games and helped lead the Gaels to a sweep of their three games in the Garden which included a 66-59 upset of Manhattan.  During his first varsity season, Guerin had scored 30 points against Bates Dec. 14, 1951, making him the first Gael ever to score 30 points in a game, but he eradicated that mark with five more 30-plus games in his career including 36 against Marshall in 1954, 38 at Fairfield and 40 against John Carroll Feb. 18, 1954, a school record that stood for nearly a decade.  As a senior, Guerin collected 519 points in 21 games, a 24.7 average and became the first Iona player ever drafted by the N.B.A. when he was chosen in the second round by the Knicks. After his senior season, he held virtually every school record including career points, field goals, free throws and average. He played eight seasons with the Knicks and continued his prodigious scoring, setting a franchise record with 57 points Dec. 11, 1959, against the Syracuse Nationals, a record that stood until 1984.  He averaged over 20 points per games four times in eight full seasons with the Knicks, topping out at 29.5 p.p.g. in 1961-62.   But the Knicks made the playoffs only once during those eight years, and two games into the 1963-64 season, Guerin was traded to St. Louis for cash and a draft choice, who turned into Howard Komives.

Eric Guerin

Eric Guerin (Horse racing.  Born, Maringuoin, LA, Oct. 23, 1924; died, Plantation, FL, Mar. 21, 1993.)  Though long stigmatized for his failure to win the Triple Crown with Native Dancer, Oliver Eric Guerin was nonetheless a very successful jockey.  Guerin rode 2,712 winners and his mounts amassed over $17 million in purse winnings during his 36-year career (1940-75).  In 1954, he became just the fourth jockey in the 20th century to win back-to-back Belmont Stakes when he came home (by a neck) on High Gun.  The year before, Guerin had ridden Native Dancer to a Belmont victory after also winning the Preakness but failing to lead the field in the Kentucky Derby (Native Dancer was second).  He rode a winner in his first Derby in 1947 but never won again at Churchill Downs.  Guerin was also one of three jockeys involved in the triple dead heat in the Carter Handicap June 10, 1944, at Aqueduct.

Ernie Grunfeld

Ernie Grunfeld (Pro basketball.  Born, Satu-Mare, Romania, Apr. 24, 1955.)  On Feb. 23, 1996, Ernie Grunfeld was named president of the Knickerbockers, adding to the title of vice president and general manager he had received July 21, 1993.  He was abruptly dismissed from these positions on April 21, 1999.  In between, Grunfeld had fundamentally changed the Knicks by bringing in Allan Houston, Larry Johnson, and Chris Childs in 1996, drafting Charlie Ward, a Heisman Trophy-winning football star (1994) and trading for Latrell Sprewell (Jan. 21, 1999), who had just completed a suspension for a physical confrontation with his coach.  Grunfeld, a bulky 6’6” forward, completed his nine-year playing career with the Knicks (1982-86), scoring 1,680 points in 298 games after tours with Milwaukee and Kansas City.  He then spent three seasons as the team’s radio color analyst, served as assistant coach (under Stu Jackson) in 1989-90, and moved to the front office as director of administration the following year before becoming vice president of player personnel, April 23, 1991.  In 1999, Grunfeld became Milwaukee’s general manager.

Jerry Grote

Jerry Grote (Baseball.  Born, San Antonio, TX, Oct. 6, 1942.)  A leather-tough defensive catcher, Gerald Wayne Grote was a critical element in the Mets’ 1969 world championship and 1973 N.L. pennant.  Grote was acquired Oct. 16, 1965, from Houston for 6’7” righthander Tom Parsons (who never pitched for the Astros).  He became a steadying influence on the Mets staff just as it was coming to full flower.  Grote stayed with the Mets for 12 seasons (1966-77) and played a major role in those two championship teams despite a lifetime .252 batting average.  He hit only .211 in the 1969 Series, but the Mets pitching staff allowed nine runs in 45 innings.  Grote was a good handler of pitchers, an exceptional defensive catcher, and had a good arm that baserunners respected.

Lee Grosscup

Lee Grosscup (Pro football.  Born, Santa Monica, CA, Dec. 27, 1936.)  Billed first as a potential star for the Giants and then as a savior for the Titans, Clyde Lee Grosscup proved to be neither.  Grosscup was the Giants’ No. 1 pick in 1959 after a sensational season at Utah but was dropped in the last pre-season cut.  Behind both Charley Conerly and George Shaw in 1960, he got into four games, completing 11 of 25 passes for 144 yards and one touchdown.  The 1961 acquisition of Y.A. Tittle again left him No. 3 on the depth chart, and he again played in only four games, with five completions for 87 yards and a touchdown.  Then Grosscup was released in 1962, signing with the Titans.  He was one of six Titans quarterbacks that year, throwing 126 times, completing 57 for 855 yards and eight touchdowns before injuries ended his career after eight games that season.

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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