Red Smith Award winner: Wendell Smith
Presenter: Larry Lester
Wendell Smith will be honored as this year's winner of the Red Smith Award. An African-American sportswriter, Wendell Smith, who passed away in 1972, covered the Negro Leagues, boxing and is most famous for convincing Branch Rickey to give Jackie Robinson a shot in the major leagues. Once signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers, Smith chronicled Robinson’s playing career for The Pittsburgh Courier. It was Smith who personally reached out to Dodgers general manager Rickey about Robinson’s major-league talents. The Baseball Writers Association of America rejected Smith the first time he applied for membership, but he applied again, and in 1948 Smith became the first African American admitted into the organization.