Black History month occurs in February, but when an event unfolds in December why wait to proclaim it. Claire Smith, the first African-American female newspaper reporter to cover Major League Baseball on a daily basis, recently won the J.G. Taylor Spink Award. She is the first woman to ever win the award. The Spink award is the highest honor a baseball writer can receive.
The Spink Award is given to a writer for “meritorious contributions to baseball writing” and is presented during Hall of Fame Weekend, July 28-31, 2017, in Cooperstown, New York. It’s based on balloting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.
Smith, now 62, has been is a trailblazer for women in the sports media industry for over 3 decades. Throughout those years she has tirelessly fought for equal access. Former MLB commissioner Bowie Kuhn, who had previously fought to prevent women writer’s access to the clubhouse, later called her “the best baseball writer in America.”
“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,” Smith said. “No one does this by themselves.”
Former MLB Sr. Executive VP of Operations Jimmie Lee Solomon recalls the greatest of Smith.
“Claire is a consummate professional, who pioneered in the sports journalism arena when it was a staunch good ole’ boys’ club,” Solomon explained. “She tirelessly persevered and became a role model to countless young females who have followed in her footsteps. She’s simply one of the best. I’m proud to know her.”
Claire is currently a coordinating editor for ESPN’s universal news group, with an emphasis on baseball. Ms. Smith has also served stints at the Hartford Courant, as a national baseball columnist at The New York Times and as a columnist for The Philadelphia Inquirer.