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W.C. Heinz for Red Smith Award (2007)

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Jones, Jun 13, 2006.

  1. Jones

    Jones Active Member

    Okay, gang, it's time for us to do something good.

    We've talked about the work of W.C. Heinz time and again; incredibly, however, he's never been honored by APSE with the Red Smith Award, given annually to someone who has made "a major contribution to sports journalism."

    I've written a kind of petition that I'll post below. Perhaps one of the moderators might sticky it for us. My hope is that after reading it, you'll feel compelled to add your name or alias (and perhaps even your own thoughts about Heinz and his work) to the thread. Even though it's an unconventional medium, and even though most of the posters here are anonymous, I'm hoping that we can present this thead at year's end as a kind of beautiful manifesto in praise of W.C. Heinz, and that those who review nominations for the Red Smith Award will take it into their consideration.

    If you have any questions or want to know more about Heinz, please feel free to PM me rather than posting on the thread. I'd like for it to remain a relatively clean sheet, but at the same time, I'd also like it to be true to the board's organic tendencies ... Just maybe, together we can come up with something half as perfect as "Death of a Racehorse." And together we can use sportsjournalists.com to make a real difference not just in our collective life, but in the life of an old man who deserves to be remembered for what he did when he was young.

    Thank you,
  2. Jones

    Jones Active Member

    It’s time to right a wrong, but time is running out.

    Since its inception, the Red Smith Award has been given to a long list of deserving sports writers and editors, each of whom have made a vital contribution to our industry, to either its science or its art.

    However, one writer has been too long overlooked by APSE for this award: W.C. Heinz.

    Newsweek once called Heinz “a matchless reporter and brilliant author;” Sports Illustrated has said: “In an era when America’s sportswriters were as big as the athletes they covered, W.C. Heinz may have been the best of the bunch.”

    But even that high praise falls short. We, the members of sportsjournalists.com, believe that the contribution Heinz has made to our craft is deserving of its highest lifetime honor.

    Born in 1915, Heinz joined the staff of the New York Sun when he was just 22 years old. In his 13 years there, he wrote some of the finest examples of short-form sports journalism then seen, including what remains arguably the single best deadline sports story ever written: “Death of a Racehorse,” published in the Sun in 1949. Its quality is evident even in its final paragraph, written in a rush in the rain:

    “Aw, ----” someone said.

    That was all they said. They worked quickly, the two vets removing the broken bones as evidence for the insurance company, the crowd silently watching. Then the heavens opened, the rain pouring down, the lightning flashing, and they rushed for cover of the stables, leaving alone on his side near a pile of bricks, the rain running off his hide, dead an hour and a quarter after his first start, Air Lift, son of Bold Venture, full brother of Assault.

    After the Sun folded in 1950, Heinz became the first sportswriter to establish for himself a lucrative freelance career writing almost exclusively for magazines. His long features in Sport, Life, Esquire, and Look were honored five times with the E.P. Dutton Award for best magazine story of the year.

    Finally, in 1958, Heinz conquered the third of writing’s form trifecta: books. His debut novel, “The Professional” was famously praised by Ernest Hemingway as “the only good novel I’ve ever read about a fighter and an excellent novel in its own right.”

    Heinz wrote a dozen more books, including “Run to Daylight” with Vince Lombardi, which, in addition to enjoying 15 printings, bridged the gulf between sportswriting and a sophisticated, educated audience. That book, perhaps more than any other before it, made sportswriting something more than purple, and it made it something more than workmanlike.

    Like all of Heinz’s work -- in newspapers, in magazines, and in books -- it was transcendent. For showing those who followed him what was in fact possible, for continuing to inspire us today with what he wrote sixty years ago, for breaking new ground in both style and substance, and for dedicating his career to making sportswriting more than a simple occupation, but a craft... For all of these reasons and more, we ask and hope that W.C. Heinz will finally be honored with the 2007 Red Smith Award.
  3. Chris_Korman

    Chris_Korman Member

    Sign me up.

    Heinz doesn't get nearly enough credit. We owe him a lot. This is the least we can do.
  4. HoopsMcCann

    HoopsMcCann Active Member

    let me know where to sign, jonesy
  5. Jones

    Jones Active Member

    Right here, hombre (and everyone else). This thread is the petition-slash-love note for Heinz. End of the year, we send it in and cross our fingers.
  6. zeke12

    zeke12 Guest

    I got chills reading the ending to "Death of a Racehorse" again.

    Consider me signed up, or if you need real names later on, I'm there as well.
  7. Jones

    Jones Active Member

    Thanks zeke... SportsJournalists.com aliases are just fine, I think. We'll assume that the APSE folks know what this site is and how it works... And if not, we'll let them know. A post is as good as a signature on a piece of paper, I'm hoping. That's the idea, anyway.
  8. Orange Hat Bobcat

    Orange Hat Bobcat Active Member

    When I was 14 years old, I picked up a collection of Heinz's best stories at a bargain table outside a chain book store. That night, I read every story.

    Since then, no matter where I've gone or what I've left behind, I've kept that book close to me, reread every word more than 20 times and prayed to be able to write for one day as well as Heinz wrote on his worst.
  9. In Exile

    In Exile Member

    Not only that, but in a world and an industry that now seems to pay more attention to who screams the loudest, Heinz can still teach us all that the best writing need not call undue attention to itself, that it leaves room for nuance and silence, and that wisdom and truth are best when revealed slowly, rather than shouted out.

    Besides that, this a strong and good and kind man. I've never won any awards, but he once sent me a note and that's what's hanging on my wall.
  10. Michael_ Gee

    Michael_ Gee Well-Known Member

    It's an honor to be able to put my name on this petition. Thanks, Mr. Jones.
  11. Thanks for doing this Chris, it's long overdue. Consider this my signature.
  12. PopeDirkBenedict

    PopeDirkBenedict Active Member

    A long overdue honor. Heinz was an amazing writer, period. The man covered WWII, wrote fiction (including collaborating on M*A*S*H), co-wrote a book with Lombardi....to paraphrase Bum Phillips, I don't know if Heinz is the greatest sportswriter of all-time, but there aren't many names ahead of his in the roll call.
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