COOPERSTOWN, NY – The love affair that ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian has had for decades with the sport of baseball — and everyone associated with it — culminated on Saturday when he was honored as this year’s recipient of the BBWAA Career Excellence Award.
“This is the greatest honor of my professional life,” Kurkjian told ESPN’s Outside the Lines. “There’s not even a second. And I wake up every day and I say what Cal Ripken said after he broke Lou Gehrig’s record: ‘This can’t happen to me.'”
In accepting the award, presented annually to a sportswriter “for meritorious contributions to writing in baseball,” Kurkjian takes his place alongside the list of heroes, mentors and friends previously honored.
“When you look at the names on this list from back in the day and then you come up with Peter Gammons, Dan Shaughnessy and Jayson Stark, I’m just so honored,” Kurkjian said.
Baseball was an important thread in Kurkjian’s life, dating back to his baseball-loving father and two older brothers who played for Catholic University. A native of Bethesda, Maryland, Kurkjian played baseball and basketball at Walter Johnson High School — named for the Hall of Famer pitcher. There he wrote for the school newspaper The Pitch.
“It’s something I’ve been interested in all my life,” Kurkjian said. “It’s not something that interested me after high school.”
Kurkjian was honored during a private ceremony at the Alice Busch Opera Theater at the Glimmerglass Festival outside of Cooperstown alongside the late Jack Graney, who won the Ford C. Frick Award, which honors broadcasters for “significant contributions to baseball.”
Kurkjian, 65, has authored three books about baseball and his experiences with it. His professional career began in 1979 when he joined the Washington Star. He covered the Texas Rangers for the Dallas Morning News until 1981, followed by four years covering the Orioles for the Baltimore Sun.
Kurkjian joined ESPN in 1998 after more than seven years at Sports Illustrated. He has since worked as a columnist and has become a prominent part of ESPN’s baseball coverage. He was a fixture on Baseball Tonight, contributed to SportsCenter, and worked as a reporter and analyst on game coverage. Kurkjian has received two awards for his work on television.
Kurkjian has simply surpassed his long and varied resume by becoming one of the most popular characters in the baseball world and a person who exudes a genuine passion for the game. The son of a mathematician, Kurkjian has long been known for his meticulous work habits, such as B. For 20 years, he cut newspaper box scores from every game and glued them into spiral notebooks, a practice he only gave up because printed box scores were becoming so hard to find.
“I always thought Tim was looking for the good in baseball,” Ripken told ESPN’s Willie Weinbaum.
Covering Ripken during his time on the Orioles beat, Kurkjian chronicled his pursuit of Lou Gehrig’s record for consecutive games played. They became friends because of another of Kurkjian’s passions: pickup basketball, where he showed surprising acumen despite being only 5ft 4½ tall.
“We bonded over basketball,” Ripken said. “I remember he always took his NBA ball out on the street when he was marking us and looking for a game. We connected and played basketball Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights.”
The friendship with Ripken was just one example of countless relationships Kurkjian forged during his time in the sport, as he became known for his relentless positivity and generosity as much as his writing and broadcasting skills, not to mention his encyclopedic knowledge of Baseball which, in Kurkjian’s eyes, was no tidbit trivial.
It was a love affair and it continues, reaching a whole new level on Saturday as Kurkjian carved himself a place among the sport’s immortals.
https://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/34284733/espn-analyst-tim-kurkjian-honored-baseball-hall-fame-career-excellence-award ESPN analyst Tim Kurkjian honored by Baseball Hall of Fame with Career Excellence Award