A reporter, sports columnist, and popular short story writer, 1967 J.G. Taylor Spink Award winner Damon Runyan was described by Connie Mack as "a master of characters and plots such as we see every day in our grandstands." Runyon was a moody man who always showed just a hint of a smile.
As Fred Lieb recalled, "you felt he was laughing at the world, not with it."
Born in Manhattan, Kan., in 1884, Runyon arrived in New York in 1910 and covered the New York Giants for the New York American from 1911-1920. As author Gene Fowler put it, Runyon "underscored excitement by casting his stories in the present tense." Runyon was responsible for nicknaming Brooklyn manager Wilbert Robinson "Uncle Wilbert."
Following his career as a baseball reporter, Runyon turned to literature. Called "a master of the art of anonymity in the first person," Runyon became best known for his short stories that later became successful musicals and movies such as Guys and Dolls and Little Miss Marker. In the language of Reader's Encyclopedia, he "interpreted the semiliterate in slangy Americanese and with unusual observation."
Throat cancer in 1944 left Runyon unable to speak, but he continued to write until his death on Dec. 10, 1946.