9:52 AM Central
It’s very difficult to put into words just how meaningful and significant it is that the Baseball Writers’ Association of America has chosen to honour Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun with the J.G. Taylor Spink Award “for meritorious contributions to baseball writing”, earning him a spot in the writers’ wing of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York. In fact, the task is probably better suited for the man himself.
There’s no question that Mr. Elliott is supremely deserving of the award. The dean of Canadian baseball writers, the Kingston, Ontario native started covering big-league baseball on the Expos’ beat for a couple of papers in Ottawa and made his debut with the Toronto Sun in 1987. He’s been more than a mainstay covering the Blue Jays ever since.
Not only does he do great work covering the Blue Jays, with an incredible network of sources and contacts – you can almost always find Mr. E. talking to a scout – he is also without peer as far as coverage of Canadian baseball is concerned. There has been a tremendous growth in baseball in Canada over the last couple of decades, coinciding with the Blue Jays’ rise to prominence in the mid-80s through the early-90s, and Bob Elliott has at least spoken to pretty much every Canadian who has played pro ball or gotten a college scholarship in the U.S. over that time. There’s no question who the true guru is.
It’s especially meaningful that the BBWAA – a group of baseball writers, the overwhelming majority of whom are American – has given this award to a Canadian for covering their game. While the NFL may have roared past big-league baseball as far as popularity goes, baseball is still the national pastime, still firmly ingrained in the hearts and minds of Americans (and definitely in the generations that have produced the current BBWAA members). You never hear people talking about “Mom, apple pie and football”. For the BBWAA to honour a Canadian for his work in a quintessentially American game is beyond massive, and shows just how good and how well-respected Mr. Elliott is. Never before has a Canadian won this award, and it’s likely to be a awfully long time before it ever happens again.
On a personal note, I have a ton of respect for Mr. E., which is what I call him because I can’t bring myself to call him by his first name. He loves the game, and he has a fantastic passion for Canadian baseball, which I admire greatly. I hope that my Sportsnet colleague Shi Davidi and I are making him proud by trying to carry the torch for Baseball Canada as high as he does. Mr. E. may have a bit of a gruff exterior, but if you’ve heard any of his frequent appearances on Prime Time Sports you know he has a quick wit and a mischievous sense of humour and, of course, he knows the game inside and out.
Every time he passes Jerry Howarth in the press box at Rogers Centre, Mr. Elliott will let out a little “Hello, friends!” and it never fails to put a huge smile on his face. The first time he greeted me with a “Hello, Michael”, I knew I had arrived.
The heartiest of congratulations go out to Bob Elliott for this incredible honour, it’ll be great to see him on the podium in Cooperstown in July, proudly waving the Canadian flag. Tomorrow, we find out whether Tom Cheek will join him.
Please follow me on the Twitter, there’s a ton of stuff going on down here at the Winter Meetings in Dallas. You can find me @wilnerness590. You can find Mr. E. @elliottbaseball.
Rational, reasonable comments are always welcome!