Harmon Killebrew was on the ballot for four years before being elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. So perhaps he and Patrick Reusse have something in common.
Reusse, named in July as one of three finalists for the J.G. Taylor Spink Award, the most prestigious honor in baseball writing, was a runner-up for the honor this year, the Baseball Writers Association of America announced Tuesday at the winter meetings. Sheldon Ocker, who covered the Indians for three decades at the Akron Beacon Journal, was chosen the winner by a vote of the BBWAA and will be honored during Hall of Fame weekend in Cooperstown, N.Y., next July.
Reusse, a Star Tribune columnist who has covered sports in Minnesota for 51 years, was attempting to become the first Minnesota Twins beat reporter to be included in the Scribes and Mikemen exhibit in the Hall’s library, considered the ultimate professional honor for baseball reporters. Even being one of the three finalists — Jim Reeves, longtime Rangers writer and columnist at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, was the third name on the ballot — was unthinkable recognition, Reusse said.
“I became a baseball nut because of my old man, and I got into this business because of him, too,” Reusse, 72, said of his late father, Richard. “But I’m not sure even he could have imagined something like this.”
Reusse has covered Minnesota sports since being hired by the Duluth News Tribune and Herald in 1966, and he also worked for the St. Cloud Times and St. Paul Pioneer Press before moving to the Star Tribune in 1988. He began covering the Twins in 1974 and has written columns about the team throughout his career.
Ocker covered the Indians for 33 seasons, from 1981 to 2013, and was known for his work ethic; he rarely missed a Cleveland game and sometimes went five consecutive seasons without missing a spring training or regular-season game, plus covering the AL playoffs and World Series.
Ocker got 168 votes from the writers, followed by Reeves (143) and Reusse (113).