Born in Toronto in 1945, Starkman has spent four decades as an executive with the Toronto Blue Jays. He was initially hired as director of public relations on July 4, 1976 and he served in that capacity until 1998. In that role, he was in charge of media relations, broadcasting, travel and team publications. He was also responsible for the club’s “Name the team” contest prior to the inaugural season that resulted in the Blue Jays name.
Starkman also played key behind-the-scenes roles in the Blue Jays’ first games at Exhibition Stadium and the SkyDome and in their playoff and World Series appearances through 1993. He also doubled as a public relations official for Major League Baseball for 15 World Series and 10 All-Star games. For his efforts, he was presented with the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s Robert O. Fishel Award in 1995, an honour that’s bestowed annually for excellence in public relations. Six years later, he was honoured with a 25-year service award from Major League Baseball.
In 1999, Starkman was elevated to vice-president of media relations with the Blue Jays, before transitioning to vice-president, special projects from 2002 to 2014. Widely respected by his colleagues and the media, Starkman has twice (1980, 1996) been honoured with the Good Guy Award by the Toronto chapter of baseball writers and in 2012, he received the President’s Award from Sports Media Canada for his career accomplishments.
In 2014, the Blue Jays established the Howard Starkman Award and named Starkman the first recipient. This award is handed out annually to the Blue Jays Employee of the Year “who best exemplifies the values of integrity, innovation, accountability, team work and a passion for winning.”
“I am truly honoured to be selected to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame,” said Starkman, who continues to serve as a consultant with the Blue Jays. “I have been with the Blue Jays for 40 years and it is beyond belief and very gratifying that my contributions are being so recognized. It is very humbling and I’m proud to be included with so many illustrious players, executives and baseball dignitaries who have meant so much to baseball in Canada.”