No writer has supported baseball in Canada as passionately and skillfully as Bob Elliott, so it was fitting that the venerable scribe was named the first Canadian winner of the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s J.G. Taylor Spink Award this morning.
The announcement was made at the winner meetings in Dallas with former Blue Jays general manager Pat Gillick in attendance.
Elliott will receive the award that’s handed out annually to a sportswriter “for meritorious contributions to baseball writing” during induction weekend that takes place in Cooperstown from July 20 to 23.
It’s the second Hall of Fame that Elliott has been honoured by this year. In June, he was named the recipient of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame’s Jack Graney Award. Presented just 12 times in the 24 years, this accolade is awarded to a representative of the media who has made a significant contribution to the game of baseball in Canada through their life’s work. He received this honour in a ceremony in St. Marys, Ont., on June 18.
Steve Simmons, a Toronto Sun colleague of Elliott’s, might have summarized the Hall of Fame scribe’s contributions to Canadian baseball best in a column published in June.
“Any baseball writer can tell you that Adrian Gonzalez is leading the American League in just about everything,” wrote Simmons. “But how many can tell you that 35 Canadians were selected in the most recent Major League draft and that 11 have already signed big league contracts – and knowing Bob, he probably has a home number, an e-mail address, and a scouting and coaching contact for all of them.”
Born in Kingston, Ont., in 1949, Elliott followed in the footsteps of his father, Bob, and grandfather, Chaucer, both of whom were superb baseball players.
A young second baseman who had difficulty hitting the curve ball, Elliott planned to continue the family tradition of attending Queen’s University when he was offered a full-time sports writing position with the Kingston Standard in 1966. However, it wasn’t until he was writing for Ottawa-area newspapers that he would receive his first Major League assignment – the Montreal Expos’ 1978 home opener.
“The Mets won 3-2, Skip Lockwood got the win, Rudy May took the loss, and Tom Grieve homered,” noted Elliott in a press release issued by the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame last December.
The award-winning scribe joined the Sun newspaper chain as the Blue Jays beat writer in 1987. A widely respected reporter and news breaker, Elliott is best known for shining the spotlight on Canadian players.
His website, http://www.canadianbaseballnetwork.com, tracks the top Canadian draft candidates, college players and minor league players.
“Ìn 1998, there were 66 Canadians in the minors – today there are well over a 100, and another 50-plus on independent professional teams,” said Elliott in the Hall of Fame release. “In 2000, there were 490 kids playing in U.S. colleges. Today there are more than 700.”
Elliott has also penned three books, including the best-seller “Hard Ball” about George Bell in 1990, “The Ultimate Blue Jays Trivia Book” in 1993, and “The Northern Game: Baseball The Canadian Way” in 2005.
Family is very important to Elliott. In his speech in St. Marys in June, he spoke lovingly of his wife, Claire; son, Bobby; daughter, Alicia and his sister, Elizabeth. On top of being a proud father and esteemed writer, Elliott is also one of the most highly regarded baseball coaches in Ontario.
Elliott garnered 205 votes from the 455 ballots cast by BBWAA members to become the 63rd winner of the J.G. Taylor Spink Award. Handed out since 1962, this award take its name from its first recipient. Spink was the mastermind behind The Sporting News, known during his lifetime as the “baseball bible.”
For more details on the award, follow this link: http://bbwaa.com/