|Died||November 26, 1972 58) (aged|
|Alma mater||West Virginia State College|
|Spouse(s)||Sara Smith, Wyonella Smith|
|Awards|| J. G. Taylor Spink Award (1993)|
Red Smith Award (2014)
Wendell Smith (March 23, 1914 – November 26, 1972) was an African American sportswriter who was influential in the choice of Jackie Robinson to become the first African American player in Major League Baseball in the 20th century.
A Detroit native, Smith graduated from West Virginia State College where he pitched on the baseball team. One day after winning a game, a major league scout approached him and said that he wished that he could sign him, but couldn't due to baseball's color barrier, and instead signed the opposing pitcher. Thereafter, Smith promised himself that he'd do whatever he could to see an African American play major league baseball. He also became the sports editor for the college's newspaper his junior year. He began his professional writing career in 1937 with the Pittsburgh Courier , then the most popular paper within the black community in the country.He started as a sports writer and then a sports editor the year after. He covered the Homestead Grays and Pittsburgh Crawfords of baseball's Negro leagues for the Courier. Smith also petitioned the Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) for membership but was turned down because he was with the Courier and not one of the white-owned papers.
Smith is credited with recommending Jackie Robinson to Brooklyn Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey who was searching for the individual with strong character to successfully execute the integration of baseball. The Courier offered to pay for Smith to travel with Robinson, who had to stay in separate hotels from his teammates due to segregation policies prevalent at the time. Smith traveled with Robinson in the minor leagues in 1946 and with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947.In 1948, Smith released his book, Jackie Robinson: My Own Story.
Later, Smith moved on to Chicago and joined the white-owned Chicago Herald-American . Smith left his baseball beat and covered mostly boxing for the American. In 1947, his application to join the BBWAA was approved, and he became the first African American member of the organization.
Smith moved to television in 1964 when he joined Chicago television station WGN as a sports anchor, though he continued to write a weekly column for the Chicago Sun-Times . Smith died of pancreatic cancer at age 58 in 1972, just a month after Robinson. Smith had been too ill to attend Robinson's funeral, but he wrote Robinson's obituary.
In December 1993, Smith was voted the J. G. Taylor Spink Award for excellence in journalism by the BBWAA. The award was bestowed at the 1994 Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremonies. His widow, Wyonella, donated his papers to the Hall of Fame's archives in 1996, providing invaluable research material on the subject of baseball's integration.
In 2014, Smith was the recipient of sports journalism's prestigious Red Smith Award from the Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE) organization.
DePaul University and the University of Notre Dame have presented the Wendell Smith Award to the best player of each game between the schools' men's basketball teams since the 1972–73 season.
André Holland portrayed Smith in the 2013 film 42 , which tells the story of Jackie Robinson's selection to play for the Dodgers, his professional ordeals, and his early minor and major league play.
Jack Roosevelt Robinson was an American professional baseball player who became the first African American to play in Major League Baseball (MLB) in the modern era. Robinson broke the baseball color line when he started at first base for the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947. When the Dodgers signed Robinson, they heralded the end of racial segregation in professional baseball that had relegated black players to the Negro leagues since the 1880s. Robinson was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962.
The Veterans Committee is the popular name of various committees of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum that elect participants other than recently retired players.
The Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) is a professional association for baseball journalists writing for daily newspapers, magazines and qualifying websites.
Shirley Lewis Povich was an American sports columnist and reporter for The Washington Post.
The BBWAA Career Excellence Award, formerly the J. G. Taylor Spink Award, is the highest award given by the Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA). It is given "for meritorious contributions to baseball writing" and voted on annually by the BBWAA. Winners are typically announced in December, with the award presented during induction festivities of the Baseball Hall of Fame in July. Winners are not considered to be members of the Hall; they are not "inducted" or "enshrined", but are permanently recognized in an exhibit at the Hall's library.
Walter Wellesley "Red" Smith was an American sportswriter. Smith’s journalistic career spanned over five decades and his work influenced an entire generation of writers. In 1976, he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary. Author David Halberstam called Smith "the greatest sportswriter of two eras."
John George Taylor Spink, commonly known as J. G. Taylor Spink or Taylor Spink, was the publisher of The Sporting News from 1914 until his death in 1962. He inherited the weekly American baseball newspaper from his father Charles Spink, younger brother of its founder Alfred H. Spink. In 1962, the Baseball Writers' Association of America established an annual J. G. Taylor Spink Award and named him the first recipient; Spink's name was removed from the award in February 2021 due to his history of supporting segregated baseball.
Jerome Holtzman was an American sportswriter known for his writings on baseball who served as the official historian for Major League Baseball (MLB) from 1999 until his death.
Jack Lang was an American sportswriter who spent more than forty years covering New York's baseball teams.
Ross Newhan is an American former sports writer, best known as a columnist for the Long Beach Press-Telegram and baseball writer for the Los Angeles Times. He began his career in 1961 and retired in 2004.
The 1947 Major League Baseball season, was contested from April 15 through October 6, 1947. The American League and National League both featured eight teams, with each team playing a 154-game schedule. The World Series was contested between the New York Yankees against the Brooklyn Dodgers, with the Yankees winning in seven games, capturing the 11th championship in franchise history.
Edgar Herman Munzel was an American sportswriter who covered baseball for the Chicago Herald-Examiner and Chicago Sun-Times from 1929 to 1973.
Elections to the Baseball Hall of Fame for 1953 followed a radically new procedure. The institution appointed its Committee on Baseball Veterans, the famous "Veterans Committee", to meet in person and consider pioneers and executives, managers, umpires, and earlier major league players. Committees in the 1930s and 1940s had chosen several pioneers and executives, but this was the first direction of anyone's attention to field personnel other than players, the managers and umpires.
Simon Burick was a sports editor and featured columnist for the Dayton Daily News for 58 years.
Samuel Harold "Sam" Lacy was an African-American and Native American sportswriter, reporter, columnist, editor, and television/radio commentator who worked in the sports journalism field for parts of nine decades. Credited as a persuasive figure in the movement to racially integrate sports, Lacy in 1948 became one of the first black members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA). In 1997, he received the J. G. Taylor Spink Award for outstanding baseball writing from the BBWAA, which placed him in the writers' and broadcasters' wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1998.
42 is a 2013 American biographical sports film about baseball player Jackie Robinson, the first black athlete to play in Major League Baseball (MLB) during the modern era. Written and directed by Brian Helgeland, the film stars Chadwick Boseman as Robinson, alongside Harrison Ford, Nicole Beharie, Christopher Meloni, André Holland, Lucas Black, Hamish Linklater and Ryan Merriman in supporting roles. The title of the film is a reference to Robinson's jersey number, which was retired across all MLB teams in 1997.
Bob Hunter was a Los Angeles sportswriter for 58 years and the 1989 winner of the J. G. Taylor Spink Award for distinguished baseball writing.
Elections to the Baseball Hall of Fame for 2017 proceeded according to rules most recently amended in 2016. As in the past, the Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) voted by mail to select from a ballot of recently retired players, with results announced on January 18, 2017. The BBWAA elected Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, and Iván Rodríguez to the Hall of Fame.
Claire Smith is an American sportswriter, best known for covering Major League Baseball for the Hartford Courant, The New York Times, and The Philadelphia Inquirer. She is currently a news editor for ESPN. Smith was the first woman to be honored with the J. G. Taylor Spink Award by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.
Richard James Kaegel is an American sportswriter. As a beat writer, he covered the St. Louis Cardinals and Kansas City Royals of Major League Baseball, and also served as the editor-in-chief for The Sporting News.