John George Taylor Spink died on Dec. 7, 1962, at age 74. He had been the publisher of the Sporting News in St. Louis from 1914 until his death.

The Baseball Writers Association of America and the Hall of Fame decided to honor his legacy with the J.G. Taylor Spink Award to a sports writer with a strong resume of baseball coverage. The first winner was Spink, and he was recognized at the 1963 induction event.

The Spink Award and Ford Frick Award for broadcasters (started in 1978) are honored in an area at the National Baseball Museum, although they are not official members of the Hall of Fame.

Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe had his moment on Saturday as the 67th winner of the Spink Award. There had been four previous winners from the Boston chapter of the BBWAA:

Peter Gammons, Larry Whiteside, Harold Kaese and Tim Murnane, a prominent baseball writer at the start of the 20th Century.

There is one Boston baseball writer missing: the late, magnificently acerbic Clif Keane, who covered the Red Sox for the Globe from 1939 to 1975.

People who edited Clif’s work as a reporter would tell you the copy was a bit rough, and certainly the words of a Keane game story didn’t flow like those you could find in a Shaughnessy gamer (and now his columns).

Yet, I think at our soul sports writers are required to be cynics and smart alecks, and Clif was in his class by himself in these areas. Legend has it, he would address Ted Williams in the same manner as everyone else:

“Hey,  bush’’ … as in bush league.

The first time meeting Clif was in 1974.  I walked into the press box dining room at Fenway Park before a game with the Minneapolis Star’s Bob Fowler. Clif glanced at my stout figure and said:

“Hey, Foul-aa, where’d you get the bear? You should put a muzzle on that guy.’’

The Bear became my nickname among ball-writing friends of that era, and it’s a lasting honor … to have been so christened by Clif Keane.


Other Clif Keane favorites;

*Shriners Day at Fenway Park, shouting out press box window: “Get those bleepin’ Protestants off the field and start the ballgame.’’

*To Bob Allison, as retired Twins outfielder walked in Tinker Field in Orlando: “Hey, Allison, how far did Yaz have you out at second when you blew the [1967] pennant?’’

*To Twins manager Gene Mauch in 1978 spring training: “Mauch … what happened to your team? Where’s Hisle? And Bostock? Who are these guys?’’

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