Longtime Toronto Sun writer Ken Fidlin named winner of Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame’s Jack Graney Award
St. Marys, Ont. – Longtime Toronto Blue Jays beat writer and former Toronto Sun baseball columnist Ken Fidlin has been named the winner of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame’s 2019 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.
“For almost four decades, Ken Fidlin wrote first-rate articles and columns about the Toronto Blue Jays for the Toronto Sun,” said Scott Crawford, the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame’s director of operations. “He continues to be widely respected by his colleagues and peers for the high standards he set, his professionalism and his commitment to his craft. We’re proud to recognize him with this award.”
Born in Norwich, Ont., Fidlin attended the University of Western Ontario for three years. He started his first job in sports journalism at the Woodstock Sentinel-Review in September 1971, and unbeknownst to the editor that hired him, he couldn’t type. His mother tried to teach him the weekend before he started but it was of little use and Fidlin settled on the two-finger approach that he would employ for the next 45 years.
After his initial tenure at the Woodstock paper, Fidlin enjoyed sportswriting tenures with the Kingston Whig-Standard, Ottawa Journal and Ottawa Today before being hired by the Toronto Sun in 1980.
Working in a newsroom where he learned from legends like Ted Reeve, Trent Frayne and George Gross, Fidlin had the opportunity to cover 20 World Series, two Stanley Cup championships, two Olympic Games, five Super Bowls and nine Grey Cups over the next 36 years.
But Canadian baseball fans will remember him most for his superlative work on the Blue Jays beat for the Toronto Sun. He served as the Sun’s Blue Jays’ reporter from 1983 to 1991, also doubling as the paper’s baseball columnist for a stretch. He also found time to co-author (with Fred Thornhill) the book, The Official Blue Jays Album: A Dozen Years of Baseball Memories, in 1989.
From 1991 to 1997, he served as a general sports columnist with the Sun, a gig that also included penning regular columns about the Blue Jays. He was also the paper’s go-to golf reporter, covering four Ryder Cups, three Presidents Cups and 40 major tournaments.
Fidlin returned to work the Blue Jays beat for the Sun from 2007 to 2016 and was there to cover the club’s two most recent playoff runs.
After more than 45 years in the sportswriting field, he retired in December 2016.
In his farewell column for the Toronto Sun, Fidlin, who has covered multiple championships from most of the major sports, wrote that the most memorable moment of his sportswriting career came when John McDonald hit a home run on Father’s Day on June 20, 2010. The Blue Jays’ beloved utility man, who belted just 28 home runs in his 16-season major league career, homered in his first at bat back with the club, just two days after delivering the eulogy at his father’s funeral.
“When I read the list of previous Jack Graney honourees – legends like Milt Dunnell, Ernie Harwell, Tom Cheek and my friend and career-long colleague Bob Elliott, it is with some level of disbelief to imagine my name next to theirs,” said Fidlin when informed he’d be receiving the award.
“It is truly a humbling honour and one I will treasure the rest of my life. I want to thank the selection committee and the Hall of Fame’s board for extending me this extraordinary privilege.”
Details about the presentation of the 2019 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 – Sportsnet 590 The Fan
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 – Sportsnet 590 The Fan
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
2019 – Ken Fidlin – Toronto Sun