Hometown Heroes: The Best of White Plains

Former Washington Redskin and Pro Football Hall of Fame wide receiver Art Monk is the best athlete ever to come out of White Plains.

I was born and raised in White Plains, New York, 27 miles north of midtown Manhattan, the county seat of Westchester, famous for a Revolutionary War skirmish against the British in 1776. The oldest of four, I lived within walking distance of 11 first cousins, my grandparents and dozens of friends. It was a great place to grow up.

Of all the athletes to come out of White Plains, Art Monk was undoubtedly the best. Monk, the wide receiver who played most of his career with the Washington Redskins, was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame last year,

A product of White Plains High School and Syracuse University, Monk was drafted in the first round of the 1980 NFL draft by the Redskins. During his 14 years in Washington, the Redskins won three Super Bowls. Monk’s 940 career receptions ranks eight on the all-time NFL list.

Monk’s best season was 1984, when had led the league with 106 receptions, at that time an NFL record. The three-time Pro Bowler finished his career with 68 touchdowns and 12,271 yards receiving.

Here is the SportsLifer list:

The Top 10 Best Athletes from White Plains

 1. Art Monk — In addition to the above, he is also a distant relative of jazz pioneer Thelonious Monk

2. Larry James — A double medalist at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, James won a gold medal running the third leg on the US 4x400m relay team. That team set a world record of 2:56.16 seconds that lasted until 1992. James, left, handing off to Lee Evans, also won a silver medal in the 400m at the Mexico City games. As a collegian at Villanova University, James won the NCAA 440-yard title in 1970, and three indoor crowns at that distance in 1968, 1969 and 1970.

3. Dick Nolan — Joined the New York Giants as a defensive back in 1954 after a collegiate career at Maryland. A member of the 1956 Giants team that won the NFL championship, he had 28 interceptions in a nine-year career, including six in his rookie season. Later went on to coach the 49ers and Saints.

4. Jim Turnesa — One of seven famous golfing brothers, Jim was the only one to win a major championship, the 1952 PGA Championship, beating Chick Harbert 1-up in the match-play final. He was also a member of the 1953 Ryder Cup team.

5. Bob Hyland — Born and raised in White Plains and a graduate of Archbishop Stepinac High School, Hyland was an All-America offensive lineman at Boston College. He was drafted in the first round (ninth overall) by the Packers in 1967, and was a member of Green Bay’s second Super Bowl champion in his rookie season. Hyland played for four teams during his 11-year NFL career. His popular White Plains establishment, The Sports Page, was one of America’s first sports bars.

6. Sal Yvars — A catcher with the New York Giants and later the St. Louis Cardinals, he played eight years in the majors from 1947 to 1954. A .244 career hitter, Yvars best year was 1951 when he hit .317 for the Giants, who win the National League pennant on Bobby Thomson’s miracle home run.

7. Mal Graham — A first-round draft pick of the Celtics in 1967, this NYU product played two seasons and won two titles with Boston. Graham, pictured top row, right, with the 1968-69 Celtics, averaged 4.7 points per game. He is currently a judge with the Massachusetts Court of Appeals.

8. Jay Saldi — Tight end, he played his college ball at South Carolina before going to the Dallas Cowboys in 1976. Saldi played for seven seasons with Dallas, and was a member of the Cowboys team that won Super Bowl XII. His best year was 1980, when he had 25 receptions for 311 yards. He wound up his nine-year career with the Chicago Bears.

9. Marty Conlon –  A Stepinac graduate who later played at Providence College, Conlon played with seven different teams in a nine-year NBA career.The 6-10 center averaged 6.5 points and 3.5 rebounds per game.

10. Willie Turnesa — Another of the famous Turnesa brothers and a graduate of Holy Cross College, Willie won U.S. Amateur titles in 1938 and 1948 and the British Amateur in 1947.

White Plains Reserves

Eric Ogbogu – Graduated from Maryland in 1998 and played seven seasons with the Jets, Bengals and Cowboys as a defensive end.

Art Schult — A reserve outfielder with the 1953 Yankee squad that won a fifth straight World Series. Schult hit .264 lifetime in a career that spanned five years and four different teams.

Channing Frye — Born in White Plains, his family later moved to Arizona, Frye was a top draft pick of the New York Knicks in 2005 and averaged a career best 12.5 points a game as a rookie. The forward-center now plays for the Portland Trail Blazers.

Grover “Deacon” Jones — Not to be confused with the NFL Hall of Fame defensive end, Jones joined the Chicago White Sox in 1962. The first baseman played three years and posted a .286 lifetime batting average.

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10 Comments on “Hometown Heroes: The Best of White Plains”

  1. Mike says:

    Wonderful blog entry (as usual!)! One of my first sets of golf clubs I had as a teenager had Jim Turnesa autograph irons.

  2. Ralph says:

    High on the list should be the late Al Egler. Played on the legendary and undefeated White Plains HS football team in the late ’40’s. Went on to fame at Colgate when the Red Raiders played big time football. Is on the All time Colgate team. Played in the then college all-stars vs the pros game. Was drafted by I believe the Rams, but was also drafted by Uncle Sam and went to Korea. Became a top exec with Union Carbide.

    • sportslifer says:

      Ralph, thanks for your comment. I did not know about Al Egler Surely White Plains High School has had some great teams and players though the years. Al Egler played for three seasons at Colgate, 1948-50, and led the team in rushing each year. Would love to hear about more great White Plains athletes who are candidates for this list.

      • sportslifer says:

        Another WPHS grad, Walter Piebes, played at Colgate with Al Egler. And Frank Briante, who played at WPHS in the 1920s and then at NYU, played two years in the NFL, with the Staten Island Stapletons in 1829 and the Newark Torpedoes in the 1930. He scored a pair of touchdowns in hes NFL career, one on a run and the second on an interception.

      • sportslifer says:

        Here’s another one: I should have remembered him. From Big John:

        In review of White Plains athletes I believe Tom DePaso should be included:WPHS,Penn State ,NFL Cincinnati and lawyer5 for NFL Players Assoc.. (not to mention THE BERNIES)

  3. Ben Baron says:

    How about an article on the top White Plains sports families, either inter generational or siblings? I played in the 70s with members of several dynastic families – Loucks, Donahoes, Martinos, not to mention a third generation Briante.

  4. Catarina Spove says:

    What about Craig Masback and Greg Herzog?
    Masback ran 3:52 for a Mile, was a Rhodes scholar and Head of the USA Track and Field.
    Herzog held the Loucks record for 35 year’s in the Mile and is still record holder today at WPHS in numerous events including Cross Country All ACC and SEC in Cross Country and Track ranked 30th in the world among US additions in Track and Field News 1984.


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