Tim Kurkjian, who has hit for the cycle as a baseball writer – newspaper beat coverage, magazine writing, Internet essayist, television reporter/analyst – and found the time to author three books, was elected the 2022 winner of the BBWAA Career Excellence Award. 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 next July in Cooperstown, N.Y.
Kurkjian received 211 votes from the 375 ballots, including four blanks, cast by BBWAA members with 10 or more consecutive years’ service in becoming the 73rd winner of the award since its inception in 1962. The late Marty Noble, a staple of New York press boxes for more than four decades, received 89 votes. Allan Simpson, the former minor-league executive who founded the influential publication Baseball America, got 71.
A graduate of Walter Johnson High school in his native Bethseda, Md., and the University of Maryland, Kurkjian began his career in 1979 for the Washington Star and two years later was the Rangers beat writer for the Dallas Morning News. After four years in Texas, Kurkjian returned to Maryland at the Baltimore Sun to cover the Orioles for four years. “He literally kept me up at night,” recalls Ken Rosenthal, who competed against Kurkjian on that beat. “He completely killed me.”
Kurkjian then spent seven years as Sports Illustrated’s senior baseball writer. In 1998, he joined ESPN where he has worked as a columnist for ESPN.com and a reporter/analyst/host for “Baseball Tonight,” the latter assignment earning him an Emmy Award in 2002. He won a second Emmy for contributions to “Sports Center” in 2003-04.
Along the way, Kurkjian also penned America’s Game (2000), an interactive look at baseball; Is This a Great Game or What? (2007), a collection of his personal reflections covering the sport; and “I’m Fascinated by Sacrifice Flies (2017), detailing the idiosyncrasies that define his love for the game. Kurkjian has served on two Veterans Committees for the Hall of Fame and is on the board of directors for the Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism at Maryland. He was the university’s commencement speaker in 2007.