Jayson Stark of The Athletic is receiving the JG Taylor Spink Award from his peers in the Baseball Writers Association of America. While it is not an official induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame, the award is presented in Cooperstown on Induction Weekend.
Stark is best known for the 18 years he spent at ESPN, but his career is far more wide-ranging than that. He has covered baseball since the 1970s. His column “Week in Review,” which was nationally syndicated, is what put him on ESPN’s radar.
Peter Gammons, who worked with Stark at ESPN, wrote a tribute to his friend that appeared on The Athletic. In it, Gammons talks about Stark’s different way of thinking and telling stories.
[When we met he] was a young writer from the Providence Journal. At the time, I didn’t know he once climbed up the billboard sign outside Fenway Park where fans — leftover ’60s guys, likely members of the Cult of Bill Lee — climbed up with cases of beer and watched games. If I had known, I’d have better understood how his brilliant mind could uncover those conflicting, inexplicable things that make some of us awaken every day believing the next game will bring us something we’ve never seen before.
He could read about something, track it, and make it a great story. On May 5, 1996, Sammy Sosa hit a ball out of Wrigley Field that went through a window in an apartment building across the street. Jayson tracked it down to the apartment of a Frenchman named Philippe Guichoux and learned that Guichoux had no idea what the ball meant. “I knew the apartment was near a field,” he told Stark. “I just didn’t know a baseball could go out of the field.”