SABR 50: Listen to highlights from Tim Kurkjian’s keynote speech

Tim Kurkjian at SABR 50 in BaltimoreAt SABR 50 in Baltimore, longtime SABR member Tim Kurkjian delivered the keynote address at the Awards Luncheon on August 18, 2022, at the Hyatt Regency Inner Harbor. Kurkjian was recently honored at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown during Induction Weekend as the 2022 BBWAA Career Excellence Award Winner.

Kurkjian joined ESPN in 1998 as both a reporter for Baseball Tonight and a senior writer. He continues to provide insight and analysis through his writing as well as regular appearances on Baseball Tonight and SportsCenter. He also is a regular analyst in the booth for ESPN’s national television games and is a staple in ESPN’s Little League World Series coverage. He has authored three books, including most recently I’m Fascinated by Sacrifice Flies in 2016. He covered the Baltimore Orioles for the Baltimore Sun beginning in 1986 before moving on to Sports Illustrated from 1989 to 1997. He is a native of Bethesda, Maryland, and a graduate of the University of Maryland.

Here are some highlights:

On receiving “the call” from the BBWAA

  • “The day after I won this award, Johnny Bench called me at my house and says, ‘Congratulations, Tim, welcome to the club. You’re one of us now.’ Let’s be clear, I’m not in their club, I’m not one of them. But still, the greatest catcher of all time called me on the phone to congratulate. And then he said, very softly and very poignantly, ‘It’s moments like this that take you back to Little League. And let’s face it, Tim, you could still fit in a Little League uniform!’ … I’m going back to Williamsport tonight, where 52 percent of the kids are taller than me.”

On visiting the Hall of Fame as the BBWAA award winner

  • “I was in Cooperstown for the greatest weekend of my professional life. … At the Otesaga Hotel, Johnny Bench sees me there and he says, ‘Come with me.’ He takes me out to the veranda, which overlooks the lake, the most beautiful scene you’ve ever seen. He says, ‘I do this with all first-time Hall of Fame players. Come sit next to me.’ We’re the only two on the veranda. He says, ‘I want you to look at that lake and not say a word for one minute. I want you to think about where you are, how you got here, and how many people helped you get here.’ … I’m sorry, I almost cried again. It was so powerful, so amazing. … I can’t even begin to tell you what a thrill that was for me.”

On being a SABR member for more than 25 years

  • “It’s an honor for me to be here. My dad loved SABR, I love SABR, you people are all completely out of your minds and I love every one of you for it. … It’s the best game because of people like you. What you people do, the stories you tell, the research you do. … I can’t stress enough how important it is that we have someone doing real research because we get a lot of things wrong, believe me, and someone needs to correct us.”

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Tim Kurkjian at SABR 50 in Baltimore

Originally published: August 24, 2022. Last Updated: August 24, 2022.