Claire Smith breaks barriers as the First Woman to be honored as Top Baseball Writer. She was elected as the 2017 winner of the J.G. Taylor Spink Award, the first women to ever win the highest honor of the Baseball Writers Association of America. The award was named after Taylor Spink, publisher of The Sporting News, who is highly recognized as the baseball bible. She will be honored with the award during the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s induction weekend: July 31, 2017 in Cooperstown, N.Y. Her name is Claire Smith.
As an African-American sports writer, her influential voice and contribution to cover major league baseball is highly recognized by those within the industry. She started her career by covering the New York Yankees for five years since 1983. She then moved on to being a high profile columnist with the New York Times from 1991 till 1998 and columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer from 1998 till 2007.
In a ceremony held at the Baseball Winter Meetings, Claire has expressed her honor and appreciation to her peers, “There are so many women who could have been chosen, so many women who broke barriers,” Smith said. “I am overwhelmed, I am humbled. For every woman who came before me and who stood by my side today. They are my champions. They are my sisters. And the men, who stood up in that room today and applauded. They are my champions, too.”
Thirty two years ago, Smith, the only baseball writer for the Hartford Courant at the time, struggled to show her face and value as a women at the Padres’ team clubhouse. Ridiculed and heart-broken by the sexist decisions that prevented her from doing her job, Smith had to wait for a change for all writers to be welcome at the clubhouse despite their gender and race. When Peter Ueberroth was appointed as the new baseball commissioner, he forced all doors in MLB, including Padres, to open for all writers.
She has been blocked several times from entering a clubhouse because they claimed it was a man’s place. However, that did not stop her from doing what she loved. She was grateful to have had peers support her all the way through and her confidence is what pushed her to be one of the most renowned baseball writers of all time. Her best piece of advice is to keep trying with a smile because “you will never know who will be your ally when you need it.”
Written by: Tae Yun Mario Kim
About GC4W: The Global Connections for Women Foundation is not-for-profit charity organization that believes in women and girls — and their rights to create new opportunities for themselves and their communities.