What they're saying
ESPN analyst Peter Gammons was elected the 2004 winner of the J.G. Taylor Spink Award in balloting by the BBWAA. The award is presented annually "for meritorious contributions to baseball writing" during the 2005 induction ceremony July 31 at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, N.Y. Below is a sampling of what Gammons' contributions has meant to his profession and peers:
"I consider my buddy, Peter, to be more than just a friend. He's an inspiration -- to me, and (if they've studied their media history lessons) to everyone on earth who covers baseball for a living. Peter is to modern baseball coverage what Edison is to electricity. He isn't just the model for how to do this job. He invented how to do this job. He pioneered it all -- those long Sunday notes columns in every newspaper in America, those daily notebooks that every baseball beat writer takes as standard duty now, those game stories that veer way beyond how they scored to tell you WHY they scored, those Rumor Central columns that feed us our daily trade dirt. None of that was part of the landscape until Peter pioneered it. And now it's here forever. He made me want to do what I do. He's altered the course of my career. He's changed my life -- and all of our lives. He's a Hall of Famer in the same way that Ruth and Gehrig and Williams are Hall of Famers: He's why they need Halls of Fame in the first place."
-- Jayson Stark, ESPN.com senior writer
"Peter Gammons has inspired two generations of baseball reporters, young journalists who were weaned on his notes columns, and on the details he provided with each of his stories. And, in a business that can be cynical, Gammons has maintained a boyish love for the game of baseball. ... Peter likes people -- likes talking to them, likes talking about the game with them, likes to look for the good in people. And this is a pretty rare quality."
-- Buster Olney, ESPN The Magazine
"A panicked beat writer for the Texas Rangers knew his team was on the verge of a trade, but he couldn't figure it out, so he called the beat writer for the Boston Red Sox. 'Oh yeah,' Peter Gammons said, 'the Rangers are going to trade for (Toronto's) Cliff Johnson today.'
"That is Hall of Famer Peter Gammons. He is the hardest working, most passionate, most well connected writer in baseball. He changed the business. He changed the way baseball writers wrote their game stories. He essentially invented, but definitely perfected, the Sunday notes column. He was one of the first to successfully make the crossover to television, opening the way for so many others. But mostly, he always has been incredibly gracious with his time and his information, even for a clueless young writer in Texas.
"Thanks for everything, Peter."
-- Tim Kurkjian, ESPN The Magazine
"Peter Gammons' Hall of Fame plaque will duly note how he pioneered the "notes network,'' incorporated rock lyrics in baseball game stories long before it became fashionable, and made a seamless transition from newspapers to magazine writing to television and radio. Along the way, he raised the bar of expectations for everyone else in the profession.
"But when I think of Peter, I think of a man who never lost an almost boyish enthusiasm in a business that's too long on cynicism. He's invariably nice to everyone -- whether it's the blue collar guy from Vermont who's made the trip to Fenway for a game and wants to snap his picture, or the young newspaper writer who dreams of being the next Peter Gammons.
"Here's the straight scoop: There will only be one Peter Gammons. And he's now in Cooperstown, alongside the greats, precisely where he belongs."
-- Jerry Crasnick, ESPN.com Insider
" Just as Theo Epstein will inspire the next generation of young New England baseball fans to dream of becoming champion-building general managers, Peter Gammons fired the dream of an earlier generation to become a baseball reporter. We were bedazzled by his knowledge and endless contacts, entertained by the wit and flair of his writing, and blessed by his passion and commitment to the game. He was our Ruth, and like the Babe belongs in Cooperstown."
-- Gordon Edes, Boston Globe
"Here's what I love about Peter Gammons:
"How much he helped me when I was first starting out and didn't have a clue. It would never even occur to Peter to "big-time" someone. If you show interest in the game, he's there for you, no matter who you are.
"How he changed our entire profession by inventing the notes column, and of course, making the transition to radio and television. Sometimes I wonder how much money he has made for all of us.
"How warm he is to fans when people approach him. Peter is a genuine celebrity, signing autographs, shaking hands, the whole deal. He handles it a lot better than many of the people he writes about!
"How he still kicks all of our butts at his, uh, advanced age. Peter's enthusiasm and energy is almost difficult to comprehend. It's inspiring.
"This honor is so overdue. Frankly, it's embarrassing to our organization that Peter did not receive this honor sooner."
-- Ken Rosenthal, The Sporting News
"Every time I walk into the Fenway Park press box, I stop to read Peter's game story from Game 6 of the 1975 World Series. (It hangs on the back wall.) For a moment, I am 10 years old again, sitting on the floor in front of the television set back home in Greenville, R.I., erupting in joy as Fisk's drive heads for the foul pole. To this New England kid who grew up loving baseball and wanting to write about it for a living, Peter was always an inspiration. He still is -- as a gifted writer, a tireless reporter and a good man who has always been generous with his time."
-- Jim Salisbury, Philadelphia Inquirer
"Peter Gammons may never have produced a hit or struck out a hitter in his career, but no Hall of Famer has ever loved or has been as passionate about the game of baseball than Peter Gammons. He was the pioneer of how this game should be covered and a role model for every journalist in our profession. He not is a Hall of
Fame writer, but most important, a Hall of Fame person.''
-- Bob Nightengale, USA Today Sports Weekly
"In 1979, my first year covering the Montreal Expos I heard the phrase "Peter Gammons wrote ..." Over and over. Eventually, we found a downtown newspaper shop which sold the Boston Globe, a day late. It was about $3.50 (Canadian on Sundays). Now in the younger years the post-game routine was the same in Montreal: take the Metro downtown and head out for a night on the town. Yet, never on Mondays. On Mondays I'd get the Sunday Globe, sit in a quiet corner of a restaurant and read Peter's weekly Sunday notes package. Then, I'd read the whole sports section and re-read Peter's page. The amount and depth of information contained within was staggering.
"Years later in 1987, I was traded to the American League and met Peter for the first time on the roof of old Fenway Park when Toronto visited. For years we spoke every Friday. I was always under the assumption that his lovely wife Gloria said good night to Peter on Thursday and good morning on Saturday -- he spent so many hours on the phone Friday.
"Peter was right about Rickey Henderson coming to the Jays in 1993, about John Olerud going to the Mets a few years later and countless other stories and countless other stories involving Toronto.
"Watching Peter at ballparks always impressed me: he always had time to stop and talk to the superstar, the 25th man, the equipment man or the fan who stopped him to ask him about a prospect at Double-A New Britain. The same went for writers, whether it was someone from the No. 1 paper or a suburban paper.
"I didn't see Peter his first year covering the Red Sox, but I would guess he has the same enthusiasm today as he did then. That can be said for only a few people in our business.
"After two narrow losses, Peter is a most worthy selection as the winner of the 2004 Spink award, for few have done as much to change the way baseball was covered as Peter Gammons."
-- Bob Elliott, Toronto Sun
"The Brookline, MA, census rolls list no Gammons children but that's not entirely accurate. I should know because I'm one of the countless Sons of Peter Gammons that are scattered about the sports and journalistic landscapes. As I look around the press room today at the Winter Meetings, I see many others just like me, native New Englanders who were inspired to take up this profession because we grew up as fans of Peter. And without his kindness, advice and mentoring, many of us wouldn't be where we are today. I am forever grateful and I've never been so proud to be one of the Sons as I am today."
-- Jeff Horrigan, Boston Herald
"It has been an absolute pleasure to get to know Peter through his involvement with the annual Hot Stove Cool Music benefit show for the Jimmy Fund. This event pretty much sums up everything you need to know about Peter: an unpretentious, warm, charitable -- and quintessentially Boston -- good time that seamlessly marries baseball and rock & roll. I have had the fortune to back Peter (I hope to be called Peter and the Back Gammons for this year's concert) a few years in a row and I suggest that, now that he has tackled the Baseball Hall of Fame, he can concentrate on making it into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame."
-- Bill Janovitz, Buffalo Tom ... Crown Victoria ... Red Sox fan
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