Longtime Toronto Blue Jays beat writer Larry Millson has been named the winner of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame’s 2016 Jack Graney Award.
The St. Marys, Ont.-based shrine presents this award annually to a member of the media who has made significant contributions to baseball in Canada through their life’s work.
“Larry Millson is one of our country’s most respected and authoritative baseball writers,” said Scott Crawford, the Hall’s director of operations. “As the Blue Jays beat writer for the Globe & Mail, his work was read and savored by baseball fans – including myself – from coast to coast for close to three decades. We’re proud to recognize a writer of his outstanding caliber with this award.”
Born in Toronto in 1943, Millson, a Ryerson University graduate, got his start in the newspaper business with the Hamilton Spectator in 1964. He’d also write for the St. Catharines Standard, the Toronto Star and the Toronto Telegram prior to joining the Globe & Mail in November 1971.
At the Globe & Mail, he established himself as a valuable and versatile reporter who, on top of baseball, also wrote about hockey, football, the Olympics, soccer, basketball and horse racing. In 1981, he won a Sovereign Award for best thoroughbred-racing story of the year. He also covered the Green River murders while he was in Seattle on a baseball assignment in 1984.
Millson was assigned to the Blue Jays beat in 1980 and worked full-time in that capacity for 26 years. He was in the Blue Jays’ press box for five of the club’s division titles and both World Series triumphs and has likely written more articles about the club than any other reporter.
In 1987, he penned his first book, the groundbreaking Ballpark Figures: The Blue Jays and the Business of Baseball. It was one of the first books to examine the complex business side of the sport. He also co-wrote ex-Blue Jays trainer Ken Carson’s memoir, From Hockey to Baseball: I Kept Them in Stitches, which was published earlier this year.
Since leaving the Globe & Mail in 2009, Millson has covered baseball for MLB.com, The Canadian Press, Baseball America, The Sports Xchange and various other newspapers.
“This is terrific. I can’t thank the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame enough for including me in a group of people I’ve admired and respected, people I’ve worked for, worked with, worked against and best of all, talked baseball with for hours, although some might use the word argue,” said Millson, after being informed he was this year’s Jack Graney Award recipient.
“I’ve been lucky enough already, having played as an 11-year-old with John Hiller, having sold programs at old Maple Leaf Stadium, having watched Sparky Anderson in his early managing days with the Leafs, having interviewed Casey Stengel in the dugout at Shea Stadium in the early, comical days of the Mets and, on the same day receiving advice from Yogi Berra, who found out I made the trip on train: ‘Take the plane next time, kid, it’s faster.’ I feel blessed to have covered the Expos at Jarry Park and the Blue Jays in the friendly confines of Exhibition Stadium and it goes on. More than that, there are the people who work at the ballparks in various cities that you get to meet and eventually know over the years, the elevator operators, ushers, press box attendants. To have had all of that and then get this award, it’s kind of overwhelming.”
Details on when Millson will be presented with the 2016 Jack Graney Award will be announced in the coming months.
Born in St. Thomas, Ont., Jack Graney was a scrappy leadoff hitter for the Cleveland Indians. His big league resume boasts a number of firsts. When he walked to the plate in a game against the Boston Red Sox on July 11, 1914, he became the first batter to face Babe Ruth. Almost two years later, on June 26, 1916, he was the first major leaguer to bat wearing a number on his uniform. After hanging up his spikes, Graney became the first ex-player to make the transition to the broadcast booth, performing radio play-by-play for the Indians from 1932 to 1953.