Sid Feder, writer of the Wrestling Fan's Book, a resource many of us have used, passed away 46 years ago. The first edition was published in 1952, followed by an updated version a year later. They are a must have for any wrestling enthusist and are always for sale on E-Bay.
Tuesday, February 23, 1960 New York Mirror New York City, New York
Sid Feder Dies at 50
Victoria, Tex., Feb. 22 (AP). Sid Feder, 50, former Associated Press sports writer and war correspondent, died today in a hospital of a heart ailment. When he died, he was columnist for the Victoria Advocate.
Feder was born in Lakewood, N.J., and attended New York University. He wrote for the Associated Press from 1931 to 1947, when he became a freelance writer.
Published books included "Murder, Inc.," "The Luciano Story," and "Blondes, Brunette and Bullets." He also wrote for magazines.
He had almost completed another book, "The Great Brinks Robbery," scheduled for publication this fall by Doubleday. He came to Victoria in 1955.
Funeral services will be held here at 10 a.m. Wednesday (McCabe-Carruth funeral home) with cremation in San Antonio.
Survivors include his widow; two daughters, Mrs. Robert Rubenstein, Victoria, and Mrs. Paul M. Jeffrey Jr., West Palm Beach, Fla; a brother, Lawrence, East Orange, N.J., a sister, Mrs. Lester Nagel, Summit, N.J., and five grandchildren.
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Feder co-authored a few other books after he left the AP, including "Murder, Inc.," "The Luciano Story," "Blondes, Brunettes & Bullets," and "The Great Brink's Holdup" (published posthumously). What they called an "action guy" on the streets of New York, Feder always wrote extensively about boxing and horse racing and the colorful characters involved in those vocations. His brief dip into the mat game with the "Fan's Book" (printed in 1950 and, again, in 1952) was a natural adjunct of those pursuits.
He gave up the prestigious job with AP at a young age (38) because of a serious heart problem, and started doing PR for horse races (Kentucky Derby) and big fights (Walcott-Louis, Zale-Cerdan) as a means of "slowing down." Then came the first three of his books, including the wrestling tome. But, while working on the fourth ("Blondes, Brunettes & Bullets," the story of the legendary Laplander publicist Niles T. Granlund), Feder was felled by a heart attack in Los Angeles at age 45.
Seeking to slow down even more, he and his wife moved to Victoria, Texas (the couple had a daughter living there), where an eccentric millionaire oilman, Tom O'Connor, owned a Texas League franchise, the Rosebuds.
O'Connor occupies a small cranny in baseball history, first because he bought the team as a "hobby" for his two teen-aged daughters and, second, when he paid the parent Los Angeles Dodgers $40,000 for a going-nowhere outfielder, Don Miles, because one of his daughters wanted to marry him (and she did).
Semi-retired to Victoria, Feder went to work as PR man for the Rosebuds who, in 1959, had plenty to publicize. They were managed by Pete Reiser and featured -- at least until the Dodgers called him up -- a young slugger named Frank Howard. The future big-league star had 27 home runs, 78 RBI and was batting .365 at the time of the callup on June 15. Feder also found time to write a column for the local paper, the Advocate.
Alas, the bad heart finally got him, the next year, and so Feder did not live quite long enough to see the 1962 "no mustard" grudge match in Victoria between Dangerous Danny McShain and Colonel Stu Gibson. Otherwise, I'm quite sure, he would have found time to immortalize that rather obscure event.
Reiser later was to quip, "(Frank Howard) swings and swings and swings. Someday a pitcher with a good move is going to throw over to first base and Frank will swing at it."
Not much of this has anything to do with pro wrestling, but it probably tells you a little bit more about Sid Feder (and Pete Reiser, Frank Howard, Tom O'Connor and Don Miles) than you knew before. ++++
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Do you know anything about the other wrestling book author of the time, Guy LeBow?
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If not legitimately of a legendary stripe, Guy LeBow is the next best thing as a long-longtime New York City-area broadcasting pioneer whose reminiscences were still showing up in the Letters column of the New York Times throughout the 1990s.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think he was originally an actor and singer, and had an early ‘30s radio stint in NYC presenting his songs. The station was the old WMSG which Tex Rickard dubbed and headquartered in Madison Square Garden in the late 1920s. Rickard’s original idea was to broadcast all events taking place in the Garden, but the frequency was weak and cluttered and was generally outbid for the major events by larger stations and networks.
But, it provided a launching board for the multi-talented LeBow and, by World War II, he had hit full stride as one of the foremost ‘casters in the nation’s sports capital. With his wartime stint on WABF, he became the first FM radio sportscaster in NYC.
Around this time, he began doing boxing blow-by-blow, including events from Croke Stadium in Manhattan aboard WHV Radio, plus wrestling, to which he would provide grip-by-grip commentary for approximately a decade, 1947 to 1957.
LeBow was always appreciated by his colleagues, one of whom in later years credited him with being a master of “flossy showmanship.” When Ted Husing was president of the Sports Broadcasters Association in 1947, and Marty Glickman was first vice president, LeBow was elected second vice president.
The New York Daily News’ WPIX-TV (Channel 11) went on the air in June 1948 and LeBow was the first announcer hired. His “SportPIX” program ran for years on Tuesday nights.
For big fights over the Mutual Broadcasting System, LeBow was heard coast-to-coast doing background and color for the lede announcer, Russ Hodges. And, about this time (1949), LeBow settled in for a lengthy, multi-year stint from Brooklyn’s Ridgewood Grove. Both he and Dennis James (the latter from Sunnyside Garden) hosted weekly wrestling shows that were transmitted over the DuMont network.
Wrestling historian Fred Hornby, who grew up in and around New York City in that era, remembers, “LeBow was at ringside at Ridgewood Grove (Brooklyn) in the early ‘50s over WPIX-TV (Channel 11), wearing his air raid helmet with the inscription ‘RIPLEY’ on the front. Ripley’s clothing store was the sponsor.” (Another high-profile sponsor was Sunset Appliances.)
LeBow’s “The Wrestling Scene,” a popular, 96-page magazine (with introduction by Mel Allen), was issued in 1950 (and still pops up on eBay). Hornby, in one of his treatises, described it as replete with “excellent text – a veritable Who’s Who, with facts and figures from all over the nation. It was loaded with pics of past & present grapplers. A must-must for any collector of printed wrestling nostalgia.”
(I’ve never read anything to substantiate the notion but, given LeBow’s fairly sophisticated take on the world, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that he borrowed for the title of his “The Wrestling Scene” the name of Daniel Maclise’s famous oil painting of the 19th century.)
LeBow continued as a “mainstream” sportscaster, too, as lead announcer for New York Ranger hockey telecasts. (Years later, he would serve as broadcast consultant for the first World Hockey Association team the Gotham area, the New York Raiders – and report that, like so many others, he went unpaid for his services when the team’s checkbook went south.) His later career included lengthy service as announcer and editor on the NBC Radio Network and for WABC-TV.
By the late 1960s, LeBow went “national” again with the widely aired re-creations of “all-time” heavyweight and middleweight boxing championship tournaments.
Pro basketball trivia masters may recall LeBow being announced as a minority owner of the American Basketball Association expansion-franchise San Diego Conquistadores in 1972.
Seemingly indefatigable, LeBow was the principal voice for news and features when New York Sport Phone became a 999 call-in service in the mid-1970s.
Another tribute to LeBow came with Woody Allen’s 1987 “Radio Days,” in which a number of popular announcers appeared, including LeBow in the role of Bill Kern (doing a takeoff on Bill Stern).
In 1992, he authored “Are We On the Air? The Hilarious, Scandalous Confessions of a TV Pioneer.”
Another set of his broadcast memories appeared with “Watch Your Cleavage, Check Your Zipper: What You Aren’t Supposed to Know About TV,” which came out in 1994, even as LeBow peppered the editors of the New York Times with all manner of missives, including this one (excerpted) from March 26, 2000:
“Gov. Christine Todd Whitman should act with haste to outlaw extreme wrestling. I announced wrestling during its earliest halcyon days on TV … but the scene is more dangerous now, with extreme wrestling promoting the use of chairs, razors, barbed wire, broken bottles, lighter fluid and more. Most of these tactics may be illusional, but to young people the blood, broken bones and hideous injuries they may incur from emulating what they see will be mighty real.”
[ 03-05-2006, 05:40 PM: Message edited by: Old Fall Guy ]
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Interesting stuff again. Hornby is right about the book. I have it, and it is gives a good snapshot of wrestling during that period.