2013 APSE Conference: Red Smith Award winner Dan Jenkins glad to join his friends

By Erik Hall, University of Missouri

DETROIT — Dan Jenkins now joins the company of six close friends.

The legendary writer is the  2013 Associated Press Sports Editors’ Red Smith Award winner.

Jenkins received the award during Friday’s APSE luncheon at the Detroit Marriott at Renaissance Center. The luncheon was part of the 40th annual APSE Summer Convention.

The 83-year-old Jenkins had six friends previously win the Red Smith Award. Jenkins told the story Tuesday that when he learned he was this year’s recipient that he sent an email to some of them saying, “Seventh geezer nabs Red Smith Award.”

The previous six “geezers” that Jenkins mentioned were Jim Murray (1982 winner), Blackie Sherrod (1985), Furman Bisher (1988), Edwin Pope (1989), Dave Kindred (1991), and Bill Millsaps (2011). 

“I was all pretty envious of that,” Jenkins said.

These friends took annual weekend trips to Atlanta or Dallas where they would get a hotel suite then drink, smoke, tell stories, “complain about political correctness … and try to correct what was wrong with the world.”

Jenkins has worked at Sports Illustrated and now is employed by Golf Digest. He started his career in newspapers working at the Fort Worth Press and the Dallas Times-Herald. After retiring from Sports Illustrated in 1985 he began writing books full time, producing such memorable works as “Semi-Tough: A Novel,” “Dead Solid Perfect,” and his most recent book “Jenkins at the Majors.” His memoir is due to come out later this year.

Sally Jenkins, his daughter and a APSE award-winning Washington Post columnist, introduced her father. Sally described life growing up with him, Dan’s work ethic, and advice he gave her. She got emotional at the end of the introduction.

“My father, the best sports writer who ever lived,” Sally said choking back tears.

Dan echoed the praise for his daughter when he said near the beginning of his speech that, “She did good. Sally’s own work obviously makes me a proud dad.”

Dan Jenkins’ acceptance speech highlighted the great people he worked and authors he learned from during his career. 
Dan closed by listing the three best writing tips he received.

The first person he cited was writer Dorothy Parker, who said, “Wit has truth in it. Jokes are just calisthenics with words.”

Jenkins followed with advice from writer Elmore Leonard: “If it sounds like writing, rewrite it.”

New York writer Fred Finklehoff was Jenkins’ last inspiration. Finklehoff offered Jenkins this story one day. Finklehoff said to Jenkins, “There’s only one rule for plays or movies or books or almost anything. … Get them up a tree, throw rocks at them, get ‘em down again.

“That’s what I’ve been doing my whole life," Jenkins said. "Thank you.”

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