Fred “Zibby” Shields
Born: November 18, 1912
Died: January 28, 1985
Ferdinand J. Zbikowski was born November 18, 1912 in Harrison. He would later earn fame under the Americanized name Fred Shields, but everyone knew him by Zibby—short for Zbikowski. A rugged athlete with a quick mind, he distinguished himself as a three-season athlete at Harrison High School, starring for the soccer, basketball baseball teams. After graduation, he went on to play for Panzer College (now Montclair State) in the early 1930s.
At Panzer, Zibby played four years of varsity soccer, baseball and basketball. He captained the basketball team as a junior and the baseball team as a senior. He also played a season of football and competed for the track squad. An Olympia yearbook entry from 1934–35 proclaimed him the school’s best all-around athlete and added “He is modest about his achievements, idol of many, and a regular fellow. We prophesy that some day we will find him as a first baseman in one of the big leagues of the country.”
In 1936, Zibby was tabbed for the U.S. Olympic squad…in soccer. Though he was a scorer in high school and college, Fred was employed primarily as a defender. Team USA lost a surprisingly close 1–0 game in the opening round to Italy, which went on to win the gold medal. After the Olympics, Zibby turned pro and became one of the key stars of the Kearny Scots. The Scots captured the American Soccer League title every year from 1937 to 1941. He played upwards of 90 games as a professional.
During World War II, Zibby served with the Third Army in France as a staff sergeant, and continued to play matches for the Third Army team. Upon his return, he began refereeing high school and college sports. He also taught Phys. Ed. at Harrison High School. He met his wife, Amelia, there. She work in the school’s business office. Their son, Ron, ended up teaching at Harrison High, where he was named principal in the 1990s. Ron met his wife, Mary Pat at Harrison High, too. Zibby was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 1968 as Fred Shields.
A lifelong resident of Harrison, Zibby died in 1985 at the age of 72. His wife lived to 99 and passed away in 2013.