Bondy: Claire Smith, a pioneer in sports writing, is honored at Cooperstown

From Filip Bondy at the New York Times on July 29, 2017:

Claire Smith was at the forefront of a velvet revolution in sports writing, a soft-spoken woman who did not knock down clubhouse doors so much as righteously persist and stand until they opened.

During a Hall of Fame presentation at Doubleday Field on Saturday, Smith was rewarded for that steady resolve when she received the J. G. Taylor Spink Award, given to her for meritorious contributions to baseball writing. She is the 68th recipient of the award from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, and the first female honoree — a formal acknowledgment that men do not own exclusive rights to the most powerful written words.

“I humbly stand on stage for those who were stung by racism or sexism or any other insidious bias and persevered,” Smith said. “You are unbreakable. You make me proud.”

Smith, 64, spent more than three decades as a newspaper reporter and columnist, including a significant stint as a national baseball writer and columnist for The New York Times from 1991 to 1998. During that period, she wrote about the near death and rebirth of the sport — from the destructive strike that wiped out the 1994 season to the dawning of a new Yankees dynasty at the end of the decade. She later moved home to work for The Philadelphia Inquirer and became a news editor for ESPN in 2007.

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Originally published: August 4, 2017. Last Updated: August 4, 2017.