From Ohio University to Cooperstown, via Philadelphia: Paul Hagen wins Spink Award

Paul Hagen, whose baseball writing career has spanned 40 years, including the past 26 as an authoritative analytical voice in Philadelphia, was elected the 2013 winner of the J.G. Taylor Spink Award in balloting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

He will be honored with the award that is presented annually to a sportswriter “for meritorious contributions to baseball writing” during the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s induction weekend July 26-29 in Cooperstown, N.Y.

Past winners

Hagen received 269 votes from the 421 ballots, including five blanks, cast by BBWAA members with 10 or more consecutive years’ service in becoming the 64th winner of the award since its inception in 1962 and named for the first recipient. Spink was a driving force of The Sporting News, known during his lifetime as the “Baseball Bible.”

Jim Hawkins, whose coverage of the Detroit Tigers and Major League Baseball extended over four decades, received 87 votes. Russell Schneider, a fixture of baseball coverage in Cleveland for half a century and the author of 13 books on the game, got 60.

The candidates were selected by a three-member, BBWAA-appointed committee and announced during the All-Star Game meeting July 10 at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City. Voting was conducted in November through a mail ballot, a process that began in 2002.

Hagen has carved out a reputation as a tireless reporter, always willing to wait out a player for that extra quote or put in that extra phone call and wait for hours for a return call – anything for that extra detail or piece of reporting that will make a story and serve a reader well.

A graduate of Ohio University, Hagen began his baseball writing career with the San Bernardino Sun covering the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1974. Three years later, he started a decade’s worth of coverage of the Texas Rangers for the Dallas Times Herald and the Fort Worth Star Telegram.

In 1987, Paul moved on to the Philadelphia Daily News where he covered the Philadelphia Phillies for 15 seasons before becoming the paper’s national baseball columnist in 2002.  In addition to his regular workload of features and columns, Hagen specialized in in-depth takeouts such as a three-part series in 2007 examining why the Phillies had been so unsuccessful for so long, a Q&A with Supreme Court Justice – and Phillies fan – Samuel Alito, and a 2011 assessment of the fall of former Phillies center fielder Lenny Dykstra.

An enthusiastic member of the BBWAA, Paul served as national president in 2003 and on various other committees, including the Hall of Fame Veterans Committee on Executives in 2007.