J.G. Taylor Spink
John George Taylor Spink
J.G. Taylor Spink was the owner and publisher of The Sporting News from 1914 to 1962.
He inherited the magazine from his father and ran it from April 22, 1914, until his death on December 7, 1962. During that time, the magazine was such essential reading that it was widely known as "the Bible of baseball". During World War II, he had sent free copies to US servicemen overseas, and later expanded it to include all sports, mainly including boxing and football in its coverage.
In 1962, the Baseball Hall of Fame inaugurated the J.G. Taylor Spink Award in his honor (fittingly, he was the award's first recipient, albeit posthumously). The annual award is given for meritorious service in baseball coverage in print. However, in 2021, the award's name was changed to the BBWAA Career Excellence Award after a vote of BBWAA members.
He introduced a number of other publications that were essential reading for fans and journalists alike, and which have become tremendous sources of information for later-day researchers. These include The Sporting News Record Book, Daguerreotypes (biographies and statistics of baseball's early stars), the Baseball Register and The Sporting News Baseball Guide.
He has become a more controversial figure in recent years as observers have pointed out his important role in delaying the integration of baseball. The Sporting News was clearly in favor of segregation and maintaining the color line. As historian Daryl Russell Grigsby wrote in his book Celebrating Ourselves: African-Americans and the Promise of Baseball: "Spink defended segregated baseball with his silence. If need to be, he did so in words. In August 1942 he wrote an editorial saying that baseball did not have a color line, but that segregation was in the best interests of both blacks and whites because the mixing of races would create riots in the stands. … Spink’s defense of segregation was largely not based on fact but on fear and prejudice." As such, influential figures such as writer Bob Nightengale called for the Spink Award to be re-named in honor of a less divisive figure.
- Steve Gietschier: "Taylor Spink", in The Baseball Research Journal, SABR, Volume 40, Number 1 (Spring 2011), p. 126.
- Bob Nightengale: "It’s time to remove J.G. Taylor Spink's name off baseball writers' award over his racist views", USA Today, July 1, 2020.