ESPN news editor Claire Smith has been named the inaugural winner of the Sam Lacy-Wendell Smith Award presented by the Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism at the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism. The award is given to a sports journalist who has made significant contributions to racial and gender equality in sports.
Smith’s love of sports led her to study journalism at Temple University. After graduation she pursued one goal: to write about baseball.
“My passion for baseball was shaped by two people: my mother – an avid Dodgers fan – and Jackie Robinson, whose legacy influenced my love and curiosity about sports and their impact in society,” Smith said.
She took her passion and turned it into a successful career that has spanned more than 30 years. Before joining ESPN in 2007, Smith worked as a columnist, national baseball writer and editor at news organizations including The New York Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Bulletin and Hartford Courant.
“Claire was one of the central figures, among a group of dedicated and determined young women, who began breaking down barriers in pursuit of careers in sports journalism,” said ESPN’s Senior Vice President and Director of News Vince Doria. “In Claire’s case, everyone she encountered – including some hard cases – came to recognize her baseball knowledge, and appreciate her skill in writing about the game. The Shirley Povich Center could not have selected a more deserving honoree than Claire.”
“It is one of the great honors of my life to receive an award named after two of the greatest chroniclers of that amazing era in which sports changed society, the nation and the world,” Smith said. “Their courage and their incredible talents are legendary.”
She will receive the award during a Nov. 5 luncheon at the University of Maryland.