George Solomon, whose career evolved from earning $5 for each of the stories he wrote for a Miami Beach newspaper while still in junior high school to heading The Washington Post’s sports department for the last 28 years, has won one of sports journalism’s highest honors, the Red Smith Award.

Solomon is the 23rd recipient of the annual prize, awarded by the Associated Press Sports Editors. It will be presented to him during the APSE convention this month in Dallas.

"He’s always viewed himself as a serious journalist who just happened to be covering sports," said Bill Eichenberger, deputy sports editor of Newsday and first vice president. "He’s been hard driving and demanding, and his section has reflected that."

Any member of the APSE can nominate a candidate for the award, named for one of sports writing’s patron saints. From that list, the winner is chosen by a vote of former recipients of the award and former ASPE presidents.

"To have an award named for Red Smith that also was won by Shirley (Povich), Dick Schaap, Edwin Pope and Dave Kindred doesn’t get any better," Solomon said. "It’s been a blast, putting together a staff and watching it develop."

Solomon, 62, started writing sports for the Miami Beach Sun at about age 13, earning his $5 for stories about the local high school and little league teams. A 1963 University of Florida graduate, he worked at the Fort Lauderdale News and Sun Sentinel and the Washington Daily News. He joined The Post as a reporter in 1972 when the Daily News folded, became assistant sports editor in 1974 and assumed the top job in the department a year later.

"I always thought George was a better writer than an editor," said Dallas Morning News Executive Sports Editor Dave Smith, who was sports editor of the Fort Lauderdale paper when Solomon was a columnist in the late 1960s, and also a Red Smith winner. "He’s tried to prove me wrong and probably did."

Solomon is writing a weekly sports column since his June 1 retirement. He also is working on an anthology of Povich’s work.

What made Solomon distinctive is the diversity he helped create in The Post’s sports department, especially with women and minorities, and the careers he launched.

"He’s been terrific at spotting and training and advancing young talent," said Bill Millsaps, executive editor of the Richmond Times-Dispatch and a former president of ASPE.