Alex Kielar | July 24th, 2019
This past weekend, six new players got enshrined in Cooperstown, and it was unforgettable. Getting to witness it all firsthand and being part of history couldn’t have been greater. From the Awards Ceremony and parade on Saturday involving 59 Hall of Famers to the Induction Ceremony itself on Sunday, it was unbelievable. Every speech was very moving, and one of my favorites was Jayson Stark’s at the Awards Ceremony on Saturday.
The Awards Ceremony kicked off the weekend and Stark was awarded the J.G. Taylor Spink Award for sportswriters. To introduce Stark, former Baseball Writer’s Association of America President Clark Spencer talked about his career and success which brought him to win the prestigious award.
“A baseball renaissance man in an era of continuous change, Stark combines powerful stories with brilliant analysis, delivering it all to his readers through the prism of his love for the game,” Spencer said as he introduced Stark.
Stark talked about the beauty of Cooperstown and baseball, and what makes it all so magical.
“You know when I first understood the magic of Cooperstown? It was another induction weekend in 1995. The baseball strike had just ended, and for probably the only time ever since I started covering baseball, I was a little down,” Stark said. “I was used to living in a world where everyone around me loved baseball. After that strike, I was hearing from fans who told me they would never go to another game. Left me worried.”
“But then on a broiling weekend in July — sound familiar? You know what I found? The largest crowd in the history of induction weekends… And then it hit me. What were they doing here? As Richie Ashburn said that day, they weren’t here for a fireworks show. They weren’t giving away bobbleheads. They were here for one reason: because baseball wasn’t just something that they watched to kill time until Seinfeld came on,” he continued. “They were here because baseball meant something to them in their actual lives and in the lives of their families, their friends, their kids, their parents. That friends, is the beauty of Cooperstown. Some time in our lives we all fell in love with baseball, and [as] we arrive in Cooperstown it brings it all back. It infuses that love, that glow in all of us.”
Stark went on to talk about how he always dreamed of being a baseball writer, and it always seemed to be his destiny. “I’m here today because I dreamed a dream. Somehow, I wound up doing exactly what I always dreamed of doing from the time I was old enough to dream anything. This was my dream: to be a baseball writer,” he said. “On the wall of my office, there is a photo of me and my beautiful sister, Karen, walking home from school. I was in fifth grade; she was in fourth. What I wasn’t aware of at that moment was that she looked at me as America’s foremost authority on baseball. And the way I found that out was she wrote a sentence which I still find totally amazing. She wrote, ‘If you wanted to know a lot about baseball, my brother would be able to tell you.’ She wrote that in a composition for school. Later when we were all grown up, she framed that photo and framed that composition and she gave them to me. She saw this coming when I was in fifth grade. So once in a while, I ask myself, ‘How did this happen? Who gets to live the life they dreamed of since they were ten years old?’ I did.”
Stark went on to tell some interesting stories from throughout his career and him going deep into his research to find the most bizarre and unique stories. He was creative and didn’t have too many boundaries to what he would write about. He also thanked everyone he worked with and for giving him the chance to live out his dream. After graduating from Syracuse University, Stark landed a gig at the Providence Journal, covering the Boston Red Sox. He then started out working for the Philadelphia Inquirer, writing for the Phillies and being a part of big moments, including their World Series victory in 1980. He provided the narrative for Philly’s very passionate fanbase and he quickly established himself as one of the game’s leading columnists. He would join ESPN in 2000 where he brought his very solid statistical analysis and groundbreaking research ability to the ever-changing game. He would then move to The Athletic in 2018 and occasionally makes appearances on MLB Network. He has continued to keep pace with the game and give timely stories backed with extraordinary statistical numbers. He brings statistical and analytical knowledge while still also focusing on the human element.
All us aspiring writers and journalists can draw inspiration from Stark not only from his great speech but also from what he has been able to achieve throughout his excellent career.
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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images