A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from July 19, 2004
J. J. Fitz Gerald obituaries (1963)
John J. Fitz Gerald died during a newspaper strike in New York City. He never received proper credit for "the Big Apple."

Much historical work on the Fitz Gerald family has been done by Mary O'Donnell, of Skidmore University at Saratoga.

These two newspaper accounts do not mention "Big Apple," but that had long faded by 1963. Fitz Gerald died in his home at a welfare hotel on West 54th Street (now "Big Apple Corner").

18 March 1963, New York Morning Telegraph:

John J. (Jack) FitzGerald
Turf Scribe, Dies at 70

John Joseph (Jack) FitzGerald, 70, for many years one of the turf's leading writers and publicists, was found dead here yesterday in his midtown hotel. The "Gray Fox," as he was fondly known by his many friends in the sport, had been ailing for some time. In 1960, during the Saratoga meeting, he had been hospitalized for hypertension after collapsing in the paddock.

Mr. FitzGerald, born in Saratoga Springs March 7, 1893, had a long and rich association with racing. He joined the staff of The Morning Telegraph in...illegible--ed.) to buy horses, a career cut short by his induction into the army.

He rejoined The Morning Telegraph's staff following his discharge in 1919, serving as reporter and handicapper until 1924 when he began to write a column which was widely read. He left the paper in 1940.

Mr. FitzGerald, a former president of the New York Turf Writers Association, served as publicity director at Garden State Park, Tropical Park and Atlantic City Racetracks at various times. He joined the Atlantic City official family when the track opened in 1946 and, following his tenure as head of the publicity department, continued his association, until his death, as a stakes missionary. He also was employed by the Daily Sports Bulletin, a turf daily, in recent years.

19 March 1963, The Saratogian:

J. FitzGerald, Turf Writer, Dead at 70

One of the last of the old time turf writers, John J. "Jack" FitzGerald, originally from Saratoga Springs, died in New York City yesterday.

Mr. FitzGerald was formerly the turf editor of The Morning Telegraph and a turf reporter for it for some 27 years.

The 70 year old Mr. FitzGerald left the Telegraph in 1940 to do public relations for various racetracks. He was the public relations director of Garden State Tropical Park and Atlantic City racetracks at various times.

He has been associated with Atlantic City Track since it opened in 1946, first as a publicity director and then as a "stakes missionary," which he was at the time of his death.

His surviving brother, James, was also for many years a newspaperman, beginning his career on the old New York World and serving a stint as the sports editor of the Washington Post. He is now the public relations director of Georgetown University.

Mr. FitzGerald left Saratoga before finishing high school. He joined the staff of the Telegraph in 1912. He left in 1918 to buy racehorses, but this ended abruptly with a call to service. He rejoined the Telegraph after his discharge in 1919.

He succeeded John I. Day as the turf editor in 1925, at 32, one of the youngest ever in the job. He also wrote a racing column from 1924 until he left in 1940.

Mr. FitzGerald was also at one time the president of the New York Turf Writers Association. He was the swports editor of the Daily Sports Bulletin, a sports daily, in recent years.

He had been in poor health in past years. He collapsed in the paddock at Saratoga during the 1960 season, after which he was hospitalized for a time. Frank Sullivan, a famous Saratoga Springs newspaprman, among his friends here, reported this morning.

Mr. FitzGerald was known as the "Gray Fox," among his friends in the sport, according to this morning's Morning Telegraph.

Posted by Barry Popik
1920s: John J. Fitz Gerald and the N.Y. Morning Telegraph • (0) Comments • Monday, July 19, 2004 • Permalink