Millson to be honoured with Jack Graney award
St. Marys, Ont. – Legendary Toronto Blue Jays beat writer Larry Millson will be presented with the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame's 2016 Jack Graney Award on Saturday, April 1 when the Toronto Blue Jays battle the Pittsburgh Pirates in a preseason game at Montreal's Olympic Stadium.
Millson will be presented with the award in a ceremony to take place between innings by Hall board members John Starzynski and David Morneau.
The St. Marys, Ont.-based shrine presents this award annually to a member of the media who has made significant contributions to baseball in Canada through their life's work.
"Larry Millson is one of our country's most respected and authoritative baseball writers," said Scott Crawford, the Hall's director of operations. "As the Blue Jays beat writer for the Globe & Mail, his work was read and savored by baseball fans – including myself – from coast to coast for close to three decades. We're proud to recognize a writer of his outstanding caliber with this award."
Born in Toronto in 1943, Millson, a Ryerson University graduate, got his start in the newspaper business with the Hamilton Spectator in 1964. He'd also write for the St. Catharines Standard, the Toronto Star and the Toronto Telegram prior to joining the Globe & Mail in November 1971.
At the Globe & Mail, he established himself as a valuable and versatile reporter who, on top of baseball, also wrote about hockey, football, the Olympics, soccer, basketball and horse racing. In 1981, he won a Sovereign Award for best thoroughbred-racing story of the year. He also covered the Green River murders while he was in Seattle on a baseball assignment in 1984.
Millson was assigned to the Blue Jays beat in 1980 and worked full-time in that capacity for 26 years. He was in the Blue Jays' press box for five of the club's division titles and both World Series triumphs and has likely written more articles about the club than any other reporter.
In 1987, he penned his first book, the groundbreaking Ballpark Figures: The Blue Jays and the Business of Baseball. It was one of the first books to examine the complex business side of the sport. He also co-wrote ex-Blue Jays trainer Ken Carson's memoir, From Hockey to Baseball: I Kept Them in Stitches, which was published in 2016.
Since leaving the Globe & Mail in 2009, Millson has covered baseball for MLB.com, The Canadian Press, Baseball America, The Sports Xchange and various other newspapers.
"This is terrific. I can't thank the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame enough for including me in a group of people I've admired and respected, people I've worked for, worked with, worked against and best of all, talked baseball with for hours, although some might use the word argue," said Millson, after being informed he was this year's Jack Graney Award recipient.
"I've been lucky enough already, having played as an 11-year-old with John Hiller, having sold programs at old Maple Leaf Stadium, having watched Sparky Anderson in his early managing days with the Leafs, having interviewed Casey Stengel in the dugout at Shea Stadium in the early, comical days of the Mets and, on the same day receiving advice from Yogi Berra, who found out I made the trip on train: 'Take the plane next time, kid, it's faster.' I feel blessed to have covered the Expos at Jarry Park and the Blue Jays in the friendly confines of Exhibition Stadium and it goes on. More than that, there are the people who work at the ballparks in various cities that you get to meet and eventually know over the years, the elevator operators, ushers, press box attendants. To have had all of that and then get this award, it's kind of overwhelming."
Born in St. Thomas, Ont., Jack Graney was a scrappy leadoff hitter for the Cleveland Indians. His big league resume boasts a number of firsts. When he walked to the plate in a game against the Boston Red Sox on July 11, 1914, he became the first batter to face Babe Ruth. Almost two years later, on June 26, 1916, he was the first major leaguer to bat wearing a number on his uniform. After hanging up his spikes, Graney became the first ex-player to make the transition to the broadcast booth, performing radio play-by-play for the Indians from 1932 to 1953.
Previous Winners of the Jack Graney Award:
1987 – Neil MacCarl – Toronto Star
1988 – Milt Dunnell – Toronto Star
1990 – Austin "Dink" Carroll – Montreal Gazette
1991 – Joe Crysdale & Hal Kelly – CKEY
1996 – Dave Van Horne – Montreal Expos
2001 – Tom Cheek – Toronto Blue Jays
2002 – Ernie Harwell – Detroit Tigers
2003 – Allan Simpson – Baseball America
2004 – Jacques Doucet – Montreal Expos
2005 – Len Bramson – TBS Sports
2009 – Ian MacDonald – Montreal Gazette
2010 – Bob Elliott – Sun Media & canadianbaseballnetwork.com
2011 – W. P. Kinsella – "Shoeless Joe" novel adapted to film "Field of Dreams"
2012 – Jerry Howarth – Toronto Blue Jays
2013 – Rodger Brulotte – Montreal Expos, Toronto Blue Jays
2014 – Richard Griffin – Toronto Star
2015 – Serge Touchette – Le Journal de Montreal
2016 – Larry Millson – Globe and Mail