Sportsnet’s Jeff Blair named winner of Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame’s Jack Graney Award

Sportsnet baseball analyst Jeff Blair has been named the winner of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame’s 2018 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.

“Jeff Blair is one of our country’s most respected and authoritative baseball analysts and writers,” said Scott Crawford, the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame’s director of operations. “Today’s fans know him for the strong insight he provides on his radio show and Baseball Central, but his roots in baseball go back three decades when he began covering the Expos for the Montreal Gazette. We’re proud to recognize an analyst and writer of his calibre with this award.”

Born in Kingston, Ont., Blair grew up in Morden, Man., and attended the University of Manitoba where he started his career in sports journalism when he became sports editor of the school’s newspaper.

After he graduated, he worked for the Winnipeg Free Press for five years, followed by two years with the Calgary Herald. In 1987, he joined the Montreal Gazette, where, for over the next decade, one of his primary assignments was covering the Montreal Expos. After 10 years in Montreal, Blair was hired by The Globe and Mail where he would write about baseball and the Toronto Blue Jays for more than a decade prior to joining Sportsnet in 2010.

While with Sportsnet, he has evolved into one of the network’s most recognizable personalities. He hosts the popular weekday morning program, The Jeff Blair Show, on Sportsnet 590 The FAN and also serves as Sportsnet’s leading baseball analyst. He is also the co-host of Baseball Central alongside Kevin Barker and is a regular contributor to Blue Jays Central.

Despite his busy schedule, he also found time to author Full Count: Four Decades of Blue Jays Baseball, an extensive book about the history of the Blue Jays that was published in 2013.

In all, Blair has spent close to four decades in sports journalism and he has also covered multiple Olympics, World Series and Stanley Cup finals.

“It’s an honuor to be part of a group of people I’ve watched, listened to, and read for a long time – people who have taught me what I know about the sport I love in the country I love. We’re a small community who have shared planes, pressboxes and, yes, sometimes grudges. But we’re all proud of our sport, and proud to be in the company of Jack Graney. Thanks to the selection committee and board of directors for considering me worthy of this honour.” says Jeff Blair

Details about the presentation of the 2018 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.

Previous Winners of the Jack Graney Award:

1987 – Neil MacCarl – Toronto Star
1988 – Milt Dunnell – Toronto Star
1990 – Austin “Dink” Carroll – Montreal Gazette
1991 – Joe Crysdale & Hal Kelly – CKEY
1996 – Dave Van Horne – Montreal Expos
2001 – Tom Cheek – Toronto Blue Jays
2002 – Ernie Harwell – Detroit Tigers
2003 – Allan Simpson – Baseball America
2004 – Jacques Doucet – Montreal Expos
2005 – Len Bramson – TBS Sports
2009 – Ian MacDonald – Montreal Gazette
2010 – Bob Elliott – Sun Media & canadianbaseballnetwork.com
2011 – W. P. Kinsella – “Shoeless Joe” novel adapted to film “Field of Dreams”
2012 – Jerry Howarth – Toronto Blue Jays
2013 – Rodger Brulotte – Montreal Expos, Toronto Blue Jays
2014 – Richard Griffin – Toronto Star
2015 – Serge Touchette – Le Journal de Montreal
2016 – Larry Millson – Globe and Mail
2017 – Alison Gordon – Toronto Star
2018 – Jeff Blair – Sportsnet