OXON HILL, Md. (AP) — Claire Smith is the first woman to win the J.G. Taylor Spink Award for meritorious contributions to baseball writing and will be honored during the Hall of Fame’s induction weekend next July in Cooperstown, New York.
The 62-year-old Smith covered the New York Yankees for the Hartford Courant for five years starting in 1983 and was a columnist for The New York Times from 1991-98 and The Philadelphia Inquirer from 1998-2007. She currently is ESPN’s news editor of remote productions.
Smith was given a standing ovation when her election was announced Tuesday at a Baseball Writers’ Association of America meeting, and she asked the other half dozen women in the room to stand alongside her as she spoke.
Her voice quavering, Smith thanked “the guys that stood up to the athletes and teams and said that we are your peers and we deserve to be treated like you.”
“I want to thank you as well as the women who walked the walk and fought the battles and got all of us to this point,” she said. “No one does this by themselves.”
Smith appeared on 272 of 449 ballots cast by BBWAA members with 10 or more consecutive years of membership. Jim Reeves, a columnist and baseball writer during a 40-year career with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, received 118 votes and Juan Vene, a longtime reporter and broadcaster, was on 56. There were three blanks.
A graduate of Temple, Smith also has been among the pioneering African-American baseball reporters.
She was the first winner of the Sam Lacey-Wendell Smith Award for the Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism at the University of Maryland and was selected as the Sports Journalist of the Year from the National Association of Black Journalists in 1997. She won the 2000 Mary Garber Pioneer Award from the Association of Women in Sports Media and the 2010 Sam Lacy Award at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and Hall of Fame.
The Spink Award was first given in 1962. Next year’s Hall induction weekend is scheduled for July 28-31.
Former Commissioner Bud Selig and former Kansas City and Atlanta general manager John Schuerholz will be inducted along with any players elected Jan. 18.