WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. - Somers historian Bruce Fabricant returned to his hometown this weekend to discuss the legacies of the historic Mount Vernon sports figures' histories he has preserved in his latest book.
Most are familiar with Mount Vernon’s recent athletic successes - including the likes of Ben Gordon, Gus Williams and Kevin Jones - but Fabricant delved deeper, going back more than a century to highlight the lives and careers of more than 75 athletic figures that went on to make a significant impact in collegiate and professional sports.
“Mount Vernon NY Sports Champions Heroes and Legends” is a 600-page anthology dedicated to the illustrious history of Mount Vernon athletics, highlighting the achievements of everyone from Kenny Singleton and Earl Tatum to Frank Carideo, a football star from the 1920s that posted a perfect 19-0 record for Notre Dame under coach Knute Rockne.
“All of the people I researched and wrote about had to accomplish something beyond high school, and once it began, it was just like a flower growing,” Fabricant said. “More and more people started showing up in my research and the numbers just kept going up until I landed on 79 athletes.”
Fabricant said that he was inspired by both his lifelong love of sport and his love of his hometown, where he moved to when he was 6-months-old before making a stop in Ardsley and eventually settling in Somers. He noted that longtime Mount Vernon head basketball coach Bob Cimmino was essential in helping secure many of the interviews and contact information.
The author hosted a meet-and-greet with his readers at the Mount Vernon Public Library on Saturday, where he signed copies of his books and answered questions patrons had about the history of their local sports stars.
“I began reading about sports in the Mount Vernon Daily Argus, and the rest is, as they say, history,” Fabricant added. “It’s really a mecca for basketball in Westchester outside of (Manhattan), basically, and I’ve been following it since the 1960s when things really took off.”
Of the 79 athletes featured in the book, 34 were basketball players, including eight women. In total, Fabricant was able to interview 61 of the athletes or their families and 22 have passed away. Other profiles include several coaches and prominent sportswriters to come out of Mount Vernon.
“I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart and have always loved and followed sports,” Fabricant said. “I got a book called “Big Time Basketball” when I was 8-years-old, and that was my introduction to reading and I hope I can help kids do that today with their (hometown) sports heroes.”
During his research, Fabricant noted that a majority of the athletes profiled in his book got their start at the Mount Vernon Boys and Girls Club, where he has pledged to donate a portion of the proceeds from sales of his book, which is available on Amazon . He has also donated copies to the school district’s libraries.
“My goal is for the book is for youngsters to put away their smartphones and learn to read,” he said. “Reading about their passion, sports, is one way to achieve that.”