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

Category Archives: R

Howie Rose

(Broadcasting. Born, Brooklyn, NY, Feb. 13, 1954.)  Howard Rose has been a New York area announcer for over 40 years.  Rose began his broadcasting career in 1975 with SportsPhone, an organization that callers dialed to get updated sports scores at a time when it was otherwise close to impossible to get them.  He soon began working as a substitute announcer for  Rangers games. Rose became the full-time Rangers  play-by-play announcer in 1989.  His call of the double overtime series-winning goal in the seventh game of the 1994 Stanley Cup semifinal against New Jersey – “Matteau! Matteau! Matteau!” – has become maybe the most famous call in franchise history.  (The Rangers won the Cup one round later.)  Rose became the play-by-play announcer for the Islanders in 1995 and for the Mets in 2004. He quickly became a fan favorite thanks to his deep knowledge of Mets history and his “Put it in the books!” call following a Mets win.  Rose has also served as a Master of Ceremonies for the Mets during pre-game festivities on Opening Day and at various anniversary celebrations and special events.  In addition to broadcasting games, he authored a book, Put it in the Book! A Half-Century of Mets Mania, published in 2013. Among other honors, Rose was inducted into the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 2012. – By Louis Bellman

Bobby Richardson

Bobby Richardson (Baseball.  Born, Sumter, SC, Aug. 19, 1935.) Robert C. Richardson was the Yankees second baseman who spanned the Casey Stengel-Ralph Houk eras, succeeding Billy Martin at the position.  He played in seven World Series and earned seven All-Star Game selections in a career that spanned from 1955-66.  While most noted for his fielding, which yielded five Gold Glove awards, he twice topped .300, and in 1962, when he was second to Mickey Mantle in MVP voting, delivered 209 hits.  In the 1960 World Series he had six RBIs in a single game (in which he hit a grand slam), and 12 for the full seven-game series, still records a half-century later, a performance that earned him World Series MVP honors.  He is the only player on a losing team so honored since the award began in 1955.   He also tied the World Series hit record with 13 in the 1964 World Series, in which he batted .406.  A lifetime .266 hitter, he batted .305 in the World Series.  A lay preacher who spoke at Billy Graham rallies, he retired at 31, and was instrumental in the formation of the Baseball Chapel and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.  He also coached at the University of South Carolina and Liberty College.  He delivered the on-field benediction at the opening of the revamped Yankee Stadium in 1976 and was at Mantle’s bedside as Mantle lay near death in 1995, offering Christian testimony to his onetime teammate. — M.A.

Babe Ruth

Babe Ruth (Baseball.  Born, Baltimore, MD, Feb. 6, 1895; died, New York, NY, Aug. 16, 1948.)  Television was the springboard to fame for most of the celebrated athletes of the 20th century and the reason many of the greats in the second half of the century earned name recognition far greater than those preceding them.  Yet the most famous athlete ever produced in America completed his active career in 1935, well before the start of the television era.  Indeed, George Herman Ruth’s life can be said to have ended before television became a factor in American life.  Visual evidence of his feats remains largely in black-and-white news photos and some grainy newsreel footage.  Even many of his best-known records have been surpassed.  But Babe Ruth remains today more famous than those who broke his records.  He is the best known sports figure in U.S. history and may well be the best American athlete ever.  The record of such greats as Jim Thorpe and Michael Jordan testify to the difficulty of playing professional baseball.  Ruth, however, so totally dominated the game that he changed it forever and, indeed, may have allowed it to survive its greatest scandal.  From St. Mary’s Industrial Home, an orphanage in Baltimore, Ruth was signed to a professional contract by Jack Dunn of the International League Baltimore Orioles as a lean lefthanded pitcher of great promise in 1914.  During that season, his contract was sold to the Boston Red Sox, who moved him to their I.L. club in Providence, R.I.  By September, he was pitching for Boston, achieving a 2-1 record in four games and pinch-hitting in another game.  Ruth had been 22-9 in 35 games in the I.L.  In 1915, he was 18-6, helping pitch Boston into the World Series.  With Ruth on their staff, the Red Sox made (and won) the Series three times in four years.  During those four years, Ruth was 77-38 as a pitcher and also hit his first 20 major league homers.  In each succeeding season, Ruth played more games in the outfield to keep his potent bat in the lineup.  In 1918, manager Ed Barrow pitched Ruth in 20 games (he was 13-7) and played him in 75 games as an outfielder or pinch-hitter for the pennant-winning Red Sox.  The following season, he pitched only 17 games (8-5) but set a major-league record with 29 home runs and batted .322 in 130 games.  At the end of that season, Ruth was sold to the Yankees and truly hit his stride.  A free-wheeling personality, Ruth came into his fun-loving own on the Great White Way.  In an era when all baseball games were played in the daytime, Ruth was free to roam Broadway every night of the week and did.  He was also welcome in every speakeasy, the illegal bars of the Prohibition era that began in 1920.  Still, his on-field performance was astonishing.  In 1920, he hit 54 home runs, not only a record but also more than any other team in the American League (the St. Louis Browns had 50).  A year later, the Yankees won their first pennant, in their 19th season, as Ruth set another standard with 59 homers, batted .378, scored 177 runs, and batted in 171.  The 1920 Yankees became the first major league team ever to draw a million paid attendance and, equally important, Ruth’s exploits provided a vital counterweight to the sordid details of the “Black Sox” scandal.  It was revealed that Chicago players had conspired to throw the 1919 World Series, but Ruth, his big bat, and his flamboyant personality sustained baseball interest and its image.  In 1927, he broke his own record by hitting 60 homers.  In his career, Ruth his 714 homers and batted .342, earning the nickname “Sultan of Swat.”  He also played on seven A.L. pennant-winning Yankees clubs and four world championship teams (1923, 1927, 1928, 1932).  At his retirement, he held the major league record for homers, runs batted in, slugging percentage, walks, and strikeouts, and was second in runs and total bases.

Mad Dog Russo

Mad Dog Russo (Radio host.  Born, Syosset, NY, Oct. 18, 1959.)  The boisterous and combative half of the tandem, Christopher Michael Russo paired with Mike Francesa to become part of the most celebrated radio talk combination in the history of New York sports (“Mike and the Mad Dog”) on WFAN.  Russo and Francesa came together in 1989.  From 1987 until joining WFAN, he was a host and sports director at WMCA (570 AM).  Previously, Russo held the same positions at WKIS (740 AM) in Orlando, Fla., where he began his career after being graduated from Rollins College in Winter Park, Fla.  He broke up the act in 2008, signing a five-year contract with Sirius XM satellite radio, which produces his “Mad Dog Unleashed” show weekday afternoons from 2-7.

William Russell

William Russell (College sports.  Born, The Bronx, NY, Apr. 12, 1884; died, Los Angeles, CA, Feb. 18, 1929.)  A standout all-around athlete at Fordham under his birth name William Lerche, William Russell became a leading movie star in the silent film era.  Russell mixed a modest boxing career with some vaudeville and stage work before appearing in his first film in 1912.  With the motion picture industry then centered in New York and Fort Lee, N.J., Russell quickly rose to lead status and moved with the industry to Hollywood in the 1920s.  Many of his parts emphasized his athletic skills.  He appeared in more than 70 films of varying quality, starring opposite such names as George O’Brien, Conrad Nagel, Janet Gaynor, Irene Rich, and Myrna Loy.  Russell was Boston Blackie in the 1923 detective mystery Larry Gilmore, the lead in Great Night (1922), played leading roles in Anna Christie (1923), The Blue Eagle (1926), The Girl from Chicago (1927), and many others.  He married Helen Ferguson, a noted actress with whom he appeared in Desert Blossoms (1921) and The Crusader (1922).  After his death, she became a Hollywood press agent.  Russell died at age 44 after a brief bout with pneumonia.

Amos Rusie

Amos Rusie (Baseball.  Born, Mooresville, IN, May 31, 1871; died, Seattle, WA, Dec. 6, 1942.)  Even though he won 245 games in 10 major league seasons, Amos Wilson Rusie was perhaps most famous for games he didn’t win.  Rusie missed three full seasons due to contract disputes, marital difficulties, and an 1898 sore arm.  He was then traded to Cincinnati for a prospect named Christy Mathewson, who proceeded to win 373 games for the New York Giants.  Rusie was 0-1 in three starts for Cincinnati.  But when he was pitching, Rusie was impressive.  “The Hoosier Thunderball” used a great fastball to overpower hitters.  The righthander was 11-11 for the Indianapolis N.L. club in 1889 and when the team folded at the end of the season, he wound up in New York.  Pitching for mediocre Giants teams, Rusie was 34-20 in 1891 and 33-21 in 1893.  He pitched the Giants into the postseason with a 36-13 year in 1894 as the Giants upset the Baltimore Orioles in the Temple Cup playoffs.  But in 1896, he was suspended for the season, and was suspended again in 1900 before the Dec. 15, 1900, trade to the Reds.  He was 245-170 overall.

Jacob Ruppert

Jacob Ruppert (Executive.  Born, New York, NY, Aug. 5, 1867; died, New York, NY, Jan. 13, 1939.)  Col. Jacob Ruppert was a sportsman of many parts, maintaining a racing stable and a dog kennel, but gained his fame for being the man whose money and vision built the Yankees into the dominant force in New York sports in the 1920s and 1930s.  After being rebuffed in two serious attempts to buy the New York Giants, Ruppert purchased the Yankees (then commonly called the Highlanders) in 1915 almost by happenstance.  He met Col. Til Huston, who was attempting to purchase the American League club, and joined with him.  At the time, the Yankees were tenants of the Giants at the Polo Grounds and Ruppert proposed to Giants owner Charles Stoneham that the two teams build a huge 100,000-seat stadium and jointly occupy it.  But the Giants not only wanted none of that, they wanted the Yankees out of the Polo Grounds after Ruppert acquired Babe Ruth in 1920.  In 1922, Ruppert bought out Huston’s interest and began construction of Yankee Stadium.  The 1923 season not only saw the opening of the new Stadium but also saw the Yankees win their first world championship, with Ruth as the slugging star who helped fill the large building.  By 1927, the Yankees had built the most powerful team perhaps of all time.  During his ownership, the Yankees won 10 A.L. pennants and seven world championships, adding another to each list during the year of his death.  Ruppert, who served four terms as a U.S. congressman, was a full Colonel in the Seventh Regiment of the N.Y. National Guard.

Paul Runyon

Paul Runyon (Golf.  Born, Hot Springs, AR, July 12, 1908; died, Palm Springs, CA, Mar. 17, 2002.)  Considered among the best ever with irons and the putter, Paul Scott Runyon became a major golf figure in the 1930s.  Runyon began as a protégé of Craig Wood, turned pro in 1922, and won over 50 tournaments in his career.  He defeated his teacher, 1-up (38), to win the P.G.A. national title in 1934.  Runyon also won the Metropolitan Open that year, edging Walter Hagen (q.v.) and Wiffy Cox (q.v.) by a stroke.  He won the New Jersey Open in 1930, the first of his three Met P.G.A.s, and the Western Open in 1931 before his big year.  Runyon also won the Westchester (which he took six times) in 1934.  Runyon won a second P.G.A. in 1938, 8 and 7, over Sam Snead.  He also won the Met P.G.A. in 1935 and 1936 and the Westchester Open in 1935, 1936, 1939, and 1942.  Runyon later became a noted trick-shot artist.

Damon Runyon

Damon Runyon (Sportswriter.  Born, Manhattan, KS, Oct. 4, 1884; died, New York, NY, Dec. 10, 1946.)  Alfred Damon Runyon is one of the unique characters of American sportswriting.  He became one of the towering literary figures of the 1920s and 1930s from a base that was essentially rooted in sports.  After a newspaper career that started in Pueblo, Colo., Runyon worked in San Francisco and Denver before arriving in New York in 1911, when he began covering the New York Giants for the New York American.  Following a couple of tours as a war correspondent, Runyon became a syndicated columnist with Hearst’s International News Service.  Although he covered everything from major trials to politics, Runyon never lost the thread of sports, appearing at major boxing and racing events, as well as the World Series.  He authored plays and books that became movies such as “Guys and Dolls” and “Pocket Full of Miracles.”  He was probably the first writer even to earn a dollar-per-word from national magazines.  Runyon was also a racehorse owner and a manager of boxers, financed by the royalties from 16 stories purchased by Hollywood.

Red Ruffing

Red Ruffing (Baseball.  Born, Granville, IL, May 5, 1904; died, Mayfield Heights, OH, Feb. 17, 1986.)  Another pitcher who traveled the well-worn road from Boston to New York, Charles Herbert Ruffing was traded to the Yankees by the Red Sox May 6, 1930, for outfielder Cedric Durst.  Ruffing promptly became one of the mainstays of the Yankees rotation.  The six-foot, 210-pound righthander started 30 or more games in 10 of 11 seasons (1930-40) and pitched for seven pennant winners.  From 1936-39, Ruffing won 20 or more games each year and was 82-33 as the Yankees reeled off four straight world championships.  He was also one of the best hitting pitchers in baseball, hitting as many as five homers in a season.  Ruffing’s 21 wins led the A.L. in 1938 and he added two more in the Yankees’ four-game World Series sweep of the Chicago Cubs.  He was 7-2 in 10 World Series starts.  Ruffing’s career record was 273-225, but he was 231-114 in 15 seasons with the Yankees, making him the Bombers’ winningest righthander in history.  He was released by them Sept. 23, 1946, and pitched for the Chicago White Sox (3-5) in 1947.

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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