It has been, as you well know, a difficult week for the Daily News sports staff. The passing of longtime Hall of Fame basketball writer Phil Jasner on Friday night has hit everyone pretty hard. Phil will be buried on Wednesday, and the emotions are still pretty raw, as you might understand. In some ways, it seems an odd time to celebrate.
But we've all heard good news on Tuesday morning: Bill Conlin has been chosen as the 2011 winner of the J.G. Taylor Spink Award. I wrote the other day in Phil's obituary how he was the definitive basketball voice in Philadelphia. Well, Conlin is the definitive baseball voice in Philadelphia, and has been for decades, and now he has been recognized by the Baseball Writers of America and will be honored at the Baseball Hall of Fame this summer in Cooperstown, NY.
Not to brag on the place I work or anything, or the era in which I have worked, but it is hard to overstate what it means to have been surrounded over the years by people like Jasner (in the Basketball Hall of Fame), Ray Didinger (in the Pro Football Hall of Fame) and Conlin. These are giants in the business, all with different personalities and different approaches but all of whose influence has been unquestioned.
Conlin might be the most unique of that distinctive bunch: more opinionated, more elegant as a writer, more controversial, and an absolute must-read. That is true today, and it was true a decade ago, and it was true four decades ago. When Conlin hits it a long way, you really do need a tape measure.