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News & Press: NABJ News

NABJ Honors Pioneering Sports Journalist, ESPN’s Claire Smith with Annual Legacy Award

Wednesday, April 20, 2011   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Aprill Turner
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WASHINGTON, D.C., April 20, 2011 -- The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) announced at its spring Board of Directors meeting that pioneering sports journalist Claire Smith will receive its Legacy Award. Smith will be recognized at the association’s 36th Annual Convention and Career Fair in Philadelphia, PA, the largest annual gathering of minority journalists in the country. The award will be bestowed Saturday, Aug. 6, 2011.


A member of the Baseball Writers Association of America, Smith has written about sports for over 25 years, for the Philadelphia Bulletin, Hartford Courant, New York Times, and Philadelphia Inquirer. For over 20 years, her beat was Major League Baseball. In July 2007, she started in a new direction and new industry when she joined ESPN as a news editor, working with the production teams on MLB game broadcasts. She is the author "Don Baylor: Nothing But The Truth, a Baseball Life," an autobiography of a great baseball man. Also of tremendous importance to Smith was former commissioner Fay Vincent's invitation to participate in a groundbreaking oral history project to benefit the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown.


"Claire Smith is one of our best and brightest, a true trailblazer befitting of our annual Legacy Award, one of our organizations highest honors,” said NABJ President Kathy Y. Times. "Claire has been a pioneer for women in sports journalism, and her career in baseball is second to none. She is most deserving.”


Smith often refers to her defining moment, which came in the 1984 National League Championship Series between the Chicago Cubs and San Diego Padres. She was physically removed by players from the Padres clubhouse after Game One. While the situation was eventually resolved, thanks to Baseball Commissioner Peter Ueberroth, it left scars for a number of years.

Commissioner of Baseball Bowie Kuhn, who once fought to keep women sports writers out of major league clubhouses, later called Smith, "the best baseball writer in America."

But despite the hardships, Smith reminds us all to encourage our daughters, nieces and granddaughters to pursue sports writing as a career.


 "Claire Smith epitomizes the true meaning of this the award. She has created a legacy and is a pioneer covering Major League Baseball. She fought through sitting in a white male-dominated press box with grace and dignity to tell the stories of America's favorite pastime,’’ said NABJ Treasurer and Sports Task Force Chair, Gregory Lee. "NABJ, and in particular the NABJ Sports Task Force, owes her a great debt for her work representing us."


Smith also has been honored with the Sam Lacy Legacy Award by the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and


Garry D. Howard, editor in chief of Sporting News, admires Smith for her contributions to the field of sports journalism.


"Claire Smith epitomizes what a great sports reporter and editor should be,” said Howard. "She has been a role model in this business for me, personally, and so many others. She taught me patience and excellence, and helped me understand that perseverance would be needed to reach any goal in the often difficult sports journalism field. I owe her so much for that sage guidance.”


This year Smith will join other top honorees, including Miami Herald’s Jacqueline Charles for Journalist of the Year, at NABJ’s Annual Awards Gala. The Salute to Excellence Awards Gala recognizes journalism that best covered the black experience or addressed issues affecting the worldwide black community during 2010.


NABJ's 36th Annual Convention and Career Fair will take place August 3-7, 2011 in Philadelphia, PA. For additional information, ticket sales, and registration, please visit here.

An advocacy group established in 1975 in Washington, D.C., NABJ is the largest organization of journalists of color in the nation, and provides educational, career development and support to black journalists worldwide.



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