An excerpt from my latest sports journalism column for Poynter:
Tom Gage is struggling to describe the weirdest year of his life. At one point, he just blurts out, “It’s been very awkward.”
Finally, Gage sums up his wildly divergent emotions.
“I would wish this on everybody,” Gage said. “And I would wish it on nobody.”
Saturday, Gage will experience the pinnacle of his career when he accepts the J.G. Taylor Spink Award during induction weekend at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. It is the ultimate honor for a baseball writer, marking his quality coverage of the Detroit Tigers since 1979. Gage’s name will reside on a plaque in the Hall that features previous Spink winners such as Ring Lardner, Grantland Rice, Red Smith, Shirley Povich, and Peter Gammons.
Gage recalled he was stunned when he received the call informing him of the award last December.
“I had to sit down,” Gage said. “My first thought was I was surprised they called the guy who didn’t win.”
Yet Gage’s big moment comes at a time when he is out of a job for the first time in more than 45 years. Despite covering the Tigers for 36 years for the Detroit News, the paper decided to take its Hall of Fame baseball writer off the beat in 2015.
Gage, 67, still wanted to cover baseball. So he left the News to join FoxSports.com in Detroit in time for opening day. However, the new job lasted only a few months, as Fox decided to get rid of its regional reporters throughout the country.
The whole situation has left Gage’s head spinning.
“I’ve had so many people say, ‘What on Earth happened?’” Gage said.