Gammons brings new angle to award
Veteran sportswriter better known for television work
In an era when television has made stars of some members of the sports media, most longtime baseball writers continue to toil under a veil of anonymity.
In past years, such outstanding writers as Dick Young, Red Smith and Leonard Koppett achieved great success as journalists. Yet their faces remained relatively unknown to most fans, especially those who preferred to get their baseball news from television. That is clearly not the case for Peter Gammons, the most recent winner of the Hall of Fame's J.G. Taylor Spink Award.
Having arrived in Cooperstown, N.Y., earlier this week, the 35-year veteran sportswriter will receive his award on Sunday during the Hall's Induction Ceremony, which will be broadcast live via streaming audio and video on MLB.com.
Unlike most winners of the Spink Award, Gammons has carved a strong niche on television. While working for The Boston Globe, The Sporting News and Sports Illustrated during the '70s and '80s, Gammons developed a reputation as one of the most knowledgeable and hardworking baseball reporters around.
But it was not until Gammons joined ESPN in 1988 and became a regular on "Baseball Tonight" in 1990 that the Groton, Mass., native became a household name (and face), easily recognized by most fans of the national pastime.
Gammons says the credit for his emergence on television should go to his former boss at ESPN.
"John Walsh, who was taking over 'SportsCenter,' is a phenomenal man," Gammons said. "John understood that information would be king, that ESPN could not just be highlights and newswire. There were people at ESPN who weren't against me personally, but who didn't like the idea. They thought, 'What in the world is this ink-stained wretch doing in television?' Now there are well over 100 people from the print media who work for ESPN and ESPN.com."
Emerging as a true celebrity among the sports media, Gammons has become better known than some of the players on Major League rosters. Still, Gammons remains humble and remembers the others who also made the transition from newspaper writing to broadcasting.
"I'm not the first [to go from newspapers to television]. Bud Collins and Will McDonough were the two before me, and I'm proud to say that they're both from The Boston Globe," Gammons said.
Over the years, Gammons has remained a top-notch writer, as evidenced by the three National Sportswriter of the Year awards he has received. He has become particularly known for two of his trademarks: his popular notes-style columns, in which he discusses a wide range of topics; and his reporting of trade rumors and proposed blockbuster deals.
Given the latter trademark, it's only fitting that Gammons will receive the prestigious Spink Award on Sunday -- the day of baseball's trading deadline.
Bruce Markusen is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.