Baseball Hall of Fame Writer
In 1982 Claire Smith got a plum assignment. She was a sports reporter. She loved baseball. She had been a fan since the third grade when she saw a movie about Jackie Robinson. She was hooked!
Smith was a sports writer for The Hartford Courant. The Courant assigned her to report about the Yankees. She was excited! But it wasn’t easy. Smith was the first woman assigned to cover a major league team full time. She was also a woman of color. The problem was that players didn’t want her in the clubhouse after a game. But that’s when reporters get their story! If she couldn’t interview players right after the game, she couldn’t get her story.
May 22, 2011 – Boston, MA – Fenway Park: ESPN.com Baseball News Editor Claire Smith (l) and MLB.com’s Marty Noble interview Mike Cameron (23) of the Red Sox prior to the start of a regular season game. (Photo by Joe Faraoni / ESPN Images)
After a game in 1984, players of the San Diego Padres pushed her out of the clubhouse. First baseman Steve Garvey stepped out into the hallway. He wanted to be sure she had her story. He answered her questions. He went back into the locker room and came back with other players’ comments. Baseball commissioner Peter Ueberroth ordered the Padres to let her in. They did, but were not cooperative. Smith did not give up. She ignored players’ hostility. She got her story.
The Hartford Courant liked her work. They promoted her to covering all of baseball. In 1990 she moved to The New York Times. She later worked for the Philadelphia Inquirer. She currently works for ESPN.
In 2017 Claire Smith was awarded the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s J. G. Taylor Spink Award. The award is given to the best baseball writers.
Connecticut’s Hartford Courant gave her her start. She had worked hard and broken barriers. She was proud to win the award.
Rachel Robinson Honored
Also honored by the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2017 was Rachel Robinson, wife of Hall-of-Famer Jackie Robinson. She received the Buck O’Neil Lifetime Achievement Award. She was honored for the work of the Jackie Robinson Foundation. The foundation awards money to students to go to college. Read about her and Jackie’s story in Where I Live: Connecticut, pages 42 and 43.
Also honored in 2017 was baseball player Jeff Bagwell. Read his story Here.
Thanks to ESPN for the use of the image.
Read more about Claire Smith and her work at ESPN HERE.
“Claire Smith Legacy Lauded,” The Hartford Courant, July 30, 2017
“For Female Baseball Reporter, Writing About, and Making, History,” The New York Times, July 29, 2017