Sports media trailblazer Claire Smith has been named the recipient of the 2017 J.G. Taylor Spink Award.
Claire Smith, ESPN’s news editor of remote productions, poses during Major League Baseball’s winter meetings, Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016 in Oxon Hill, Md. 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. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
The honor is awarded to an individual who has made “meritorious contributions to baseball writing.” Smith has been a sportswriter for more than 30 years covering Major League Baseball, and is the first woman to receive the award since its inception 55 years ago. As the first African-American female newspaper reporter to regularly cover pro baseball, Smith became an outspoken proponent for equal access on behalf of fellow female sportswriters.
Smith is currently a coordinating editor for ESPN, and has previously worked for The Philadelphia Bulletin, The Hartford Courant, The Philadelphia Inquirer and The New York Times. She will be presented the Spink Award during baseball’s Hall of Fame Weekend, July 28 to 31, in Cooperstown, N.Y.
During the 1984 National League Championship Series, she was forcibly removed by players from the San Diego Padres clubhouse following Game One against the Chicago Cubs. Though former MLB Commissioner Bowie Kuhn once advocated to keep women sports journalists out of major league clubhouses, he later called Smith “the best baseball writer in America.”
Smith is also a member of the National Association of Black Journalists(NABJ).
“She is such an inspiration as she continues to knock down doors for women in sports journalism” said NABJ President Sarah Glover. “She is to be commended not only for being a talented reporter, but also for being steadfast in fighting for equality and paving a way for those who will follow in her footsteps.”
Smith’s selection as the upcoming recipient of the Spink Award first became public at a recent meeting of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, where she was given a standing ovation. She graciously 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.”
Additionally, addressing the other half dozen women in the room, Smith said, “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. No one does this by themselves.”
Smith is currently a coordinating editor for ESPN; and has previously worked for the Philadelphia Bulletin, Hartford Courant, Philadelphia Inquirer and the New York Times. She will be presented the Spink Award during Hall of Fame Weekend, July 28-31, 2017 in Cooperstown, New York.