By Joe Sullivan, The Boston Globe
The 2015 Red Smith Award ballot has been distributed to member voters. The Red Smith Award, named after the Pulitzer Prize winning sports columnist, is presented to an individual who has “made major contributions to sports journalism.’’
Wendell Smith of the Pittsburgh Courier and Chicago Herald American and a significant figure involved with Jackie Robinson when he broke Major League Baseball’s color line, was last year’s winner.
The next five vote getters (Bob Ryan, Henry Freeman, Leigh Montville, Sandy Rosenbush, and George Vecsey) were automatically nominated for the 2015 award.
There were nine other nominees added to his year’s ballot: Kirk Bohls, Tom Callahan, Leon Carter, Rich Clarkson, Helene Elliott, Sally Jenkins, Terry Pluto, Glenn Schwarz and Terry Taylor. Voting is open to 10-year APSE members, past presidents and Red Smith Award winners. The deadline to vote is Friday, March 6.
Here are the capsules biographies of the nominees:
The voice of authority when it comes to University of Texas sports, dating back to covering Darrell Royal as a beat writer to the last 30 as a columnist. He started his career at the Statesman in 1973. His work hasn’t been limited to UT – Olympics, Tour de France, NFL, MLB – but nothing is official on the Longhorns until Bohls has broken it.
Callahan was a much honored writer and columnist at the Washington Post, the Washington Star, Time Magazine and Golf Digest. He also is the author of several books including the definitive biography of Johnny Unitas.
As deputy sports editor and later sports editor of the Daily News in New York, Carter’s staff won many APSE Top 10 section and writing awards over nearly two decades. Later, he joined ESPN and continued to be one of the country’s most influential sports journalism leaders. Along with Sandy Rosenbush, he founded the Sports Journalism Institute and has continued to work with SJI for more than 20 years helping inspire and teach diverse journalists all across the country. He was recently named vice president and editorial director for ESPN’s upcoming site headlined by Jason Whitlock.
Clarkson had an enormous impact on photojournalism. One of the big secrets to Clarkson’s career is no secret at all. He pursued photography with the instincts of a hard news reporter as he searched for just the right image to capture the essence of the story, be it his famous photo of then Indiana coach Bob Knight rabbit hunting or Wilt Chamberlain, when at Kansas, sitting on a folding chair at Phog Allen Fieldhouse, his long legs dominating the image. A 1956 graduate of the University of Kansas, Clarkson had had a front row seat shooting some of the great moments in sports over the past six decades. Among his many career accomplishments: long-time Sports Illustrated contract photographer; director of photography at The Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal for 21 years; a time during which the newspaper became recognized as a national leader in the use of photography and won a Pulitzer for its photography; shooting seven Summer and one Winter Olympics; overseeing all photo coverage for Time at the Munich Games in 1972 and the Montreal Games in 1976 and for Sports Illustrated at Moscow in 1980. He was the AME/graphics at The Denver Post for five years, during which time it won a Pulitzer for feature photography.
Helene was the first women inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, receiving the Elmer Ferguson Memorial Awards in 2005. She was one of the first women to cover the NHL in the late 1970s. She has covered nearly every Stanley Cup final since 1980 and 14 Olympics. She is now a general sports columnist for the Los Angeles Times.
Freeman spent 47 years in newspapers as a top newsroom editor and publisher, and is renowned for his strong imprint on sports journalism as a pioneering Managing Editor/Sports at USA TODAY. He was a master innovator and motivator, passionate about journalism and sports. He drove the development of sports staples that were revolutionary. Freeman became APSE president in 1987, with the treasury almost empty after the organization had twice teetered toward insolvency. Through his leadership, APSE bylaws were changed to require presidents to live within a budget – putting APSE on solid ground.
A columnist at the Washington Post, she has been honored by APSE as the top columnist in the large circulation category four times, 2000, 2003, 2010, and 2011. Between two tours at the Post, she worked at Sports Illustrated. She has written 12 books including notable biographies with Pat Summit and Lance Armstrong.
Montville spent almost 20 years as an award-winning sports columnist at The Boston Globe, was in a group of three that became the first back-of-the-book columnists for Sports Illustrated and has gone on to write best-sellers on Ted Williams, Dale Earnhardt, and Babe Ruth, among others. In a brief stint with the now-departed CNN/SI sports network, he won a Cable ACE award for commentary. He’s figured out how to translate a unique voice over a variety of different platforms.
Terry Pluto is a columnist for the Cleveland Plain Dealer. He has twice been honored by APSE as the nation’s top sports columnist for medium-sized newspapers. He is a nine-time winner of the Ohio Sports Writer of the Year award. He previously worked at the Akron Beacon-Journal. He is the author of 23 books, including Loose Balls, which was ranked number 13 on Sports Illustrated’s list of the top 100 sports books of all time.
Sandy is currently the college football news editor for remote production crews at ESPN but she’s been in newspapers and magazines most of her career at the New York Times, Washington Post and Sports Illustrated. He’s a former president of APSE and was honored by AWSM with the Mary Garber Pioneer Award. She is a founder and year-in, year-out supporter of the Sports Journalism Institute, which has been adding diversity to our industry for 20 years.
Ryan wrote for The Boston Globe for 44 years, 23 of those years as a columnist, before his retirement in 2012. He still is an occasional contributor. As a general columnist he has a style that connects with the Boston audience in a way that few have. His exposure on ESPN’s The Sports Reporters has raised his profile nationally. Because his Boston experience goes back so far, he brings a perspective to Boston stories that is rare. Yet, his style has never gotten tired, and he maintains an enthusiasm for the games that is unusual for someone who is doing what he has been doing for so long.
Schwarz began his career as an outstanding and longtime baseball reporter, then made seamless mid-career transition to sports editor where he led San Francisco Examiner, and later the San Francisco Chronicle, to a number of APSE Top 10 section and writing awards.
The recently retired Sports Editor of the Associated Press was a smart aggressive editor who did a first-rate job supervising the coverage of sports for AP for more than 25 years. She was a true pioneer for women in sports journalism and a star in any league.
Vecsey, a long-time New York Times sports columnist, has written about the FIFA World Cup, the Olympics and a wide variety of sports including tennis, football, basketball, hockey, soccer and boxing. But he considers baseball, the sport he’s covered since 1960, his favorite sport and has written more books about baseball than any other sport. He is the author of more than a dozen books, including Stan Musial: An American Life, Baseball: A History of America’s Favorite Game and Loretta Lynn: Coal Miner’s Daughter, which was made into an Academy Award-winning film.
(Joe Sullivan is sports editor of The Boston Globe and chair of the APSE Red Smith Committee. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org)