Written History

Claire Smith pioneered the role of female journalists in baseball

March 10, 2012
(NBHOF Library)

Claire Smith has served as a pioneer journalist on two fronts, first as a woman who helped break down the barriers of access to her story subjects, and second as an African-American who continues the struggle for civil rights for all Americans. 

Originally hailing from Philadelphia, Smith graduated from Temple University and soon began her writing career with the local newspapers.

Most of her journalism career has focused on Major League Baseball, where she not only covered the baseball beat but became part of the story when she was among the initial group of female reporters who sought access to team clubhouses for postgame interviews.  The negative reaction from some club personnel has always influenced her work, and helped her develop a keen sensitivity for all sides of a story.

A long-time member of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, Smith has spent more than 25 years as a working journalist. Her writing career includes stops with the Philadelphia Bulletin, Hartford Courant, New York Times, and Philadelphia Inquirer, and then back to Connecticut where she transitioned to the electronic media. Smith now works for ESPN as a sports news editor. Along the way, she also found time to help Don Baylor with the autobiography Don Baylor: Nothing But the Truth, A Baseball Life.

Claire Smith has been nominated for two Pulitzer Prizes and has won multiple awards, including the Sam Lacy Legacy Award from the Negro Leagues Museum, the Sports Journalist of the Year Award from the National Association of Black Journalists, and the Mary Garber Pioneer Award from the Association of Women in Sports Media.

After receiving the Legacy Award from the National Association of Black Journalists, association president Kathy Y. Times said, “Claire has been a pioneer for women in sports journalism, and her career is second to none.” 

Jim Gates is the Librarian at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum