John Rawlings

By Erik Hall 

The Associated Press Sports Editors celebrates its 50th year in 2023. A series of interviews with the organization’s presidents will be unveiled throughout the year to mark this milestone. 

John Rawlings was the APSE president in 1990-91 while sports editor at the San Jose Mercury News and an editor at The Sporting News. He is interviewed by St. Louis Post-Dispatch digital sports editor Erik Hall. 

Rawlings changed jobs early in his year as APSE president, and he credits the other members of APSE leadership for helping to steer the organization as he got acclimated to his new role at The Sporting News. 

While serving as a sports editor at the Columbia Missourian, Rawlings got involved with APSE at the 1975 summer conference in Kansas City, which was the second APSE Summer Conference. He remembers meeting Vince Doria, Dave Smith, Ed Storin and George Solomon at that 1975 Kansas City summer conference.

He talks about the friendships he maintained with Dale Bye, Steve Doyle and Jeff Wohler, who served as APSE presidents in his era. “We’ve supported each other,” Rawlings said. 

Rawlings talks about taking his newborn son to the 1989 APSE Summer Conference in Portland, Oregon. “My wife and I toted him around the convention acting like we were the first people in the world to have a child,” Rawlings said. 

He tells a story from APSE judging about being blown away by a 1984 story about Dwight Gooden from a 24-year-old Newsday writer named Tom Verducci. “It was breathtaking it was so good,” Rawlings said. “I couldn’t wait to find out who wrote that story.” 

Rawlings served as executive sports editor at the San Jose Mercury News from 1983-90. He served as editor and then editorial director at The Sporting News from 1990-2008. Rawlings talks about his ethos that applies to his time at the Mercury News and The Sporting News, “If you can’t be the navy, you better be darn good pirates.”

He was a news editor at the Miami Herald from 1976-81, and he was assistant sports editor at the Philadelphia Inquirer from 1981-83. Rawlings graduated from the University of Missouri. 

Rawlings is now a part-time pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Perryville, Missouri. (20:43) “I’ve had two careers that I love,” Rawlings said. “I’m really, really fortunate with the people I’ve met along the way.”

Video link: 

If you are a former APSE president and have yet to conduct or schedule an interview, contact Erik Hall at