MIAMI – Star Tribune columnist Patrick Reusse, who spent decades covering the Twins, has been nominated to join some of the players he covered in Cooperstown.
Reusse is one of three finalists for baseball writing's highest honor, the J.G. Taylor Spink Award, given annually since 1962 for "meritorious service to baseball writing." The honor comes with inclusion at each year's induction ceremony at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.
Winners are recognized in the "Scribes and Mikemen" exhibit in the Hall's library.
The award is voted on by the Baseball Writers Association of America, which announced the final ballot at its All-Star Game meeting Tuesday. A winner will be announced at baseball's winter meetings in Orlando this December.
Nominated with Reusse are Jim Reeves, longtime Rangers writer and columnist at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and Sheldon Ocker, who covered the Indians for three decades at the Akron Beacon Journal.
"The real honor is being on the ballot with a pair of writers like Shelly and Reeves," said Reusse, who grew up in southwestern Minnesota and learned of his nomination while taking his grandkids to a movie Tuesday. "It'd be an honor to lose to either one of them. The only reason I'd vote for me is that I could give a speech in Cooperstown to tell how my old man [Richard Reusse] instilled a love of baseball in me back in Fulda in the '50s."
Previous winners of the Spink Award, named for the longtime columnist and editor of The Sporting News, include such sportswriting legends as Grantland Rice, Damon Runyon, Red Smith, Jim Murray and Peter Gammons.
This year's winner, Claire Smith of the New York Times, is the first female winner of the award.
Reusse, 71, began his sportswriting career at the Duluth News Tribune and Duluth Herald in 1966, "covering sports for $76.08 a week," he said. "I'm the only person ever to switch to the St. Cloud Times for a pay raise."
After two years in St. Cloud, he was hired to cover high school sports at the St. Paul Pioneer Press in 1968. He was assigned to cover the Twins in 1974, when Bert Blyleven was an All-Star pitcher, Rod Carew the team's best hitter and Frank Quilici managed the team to an 82-80 record.
He remained on the beat throughout the tenure of manager Gene Mauch, "who taught me a lot about baseball and a lot about human nature," Reusse recalled. "He took defeat harder than anyone who ever lived."
Promoted to sports columnist in 1979, Reusse continued to cover roughly one-fourth of the team's games each year until he was hired by the Star Tribune in 1988. He has written columns and blogs on baseball and other sports at the Minneapolis paper ever since; on Sunday, his feature on Stearns County baseball, "my bouquet to town team baseball, unique to Minnesota," led the Star Tribune's sports section.
He also has hosted radio programs on a part-time basis on KSTP AM-1500 since 1983, and began a daily show on the station in 2009.
In 1992, Reusse served as president of the BBWAA, the organization whose roughly 450 senior voters (who have held membership for at least 10 years) will vote on the Spink Award. The Minneapolis-St. Paul chapter, headed by chairman and Star Tribune Twins beat writer La Velle E. Neal III, nominated Reusse for the award, and he was selected by a three-member national panel as a finalist last week.