In four decades on the Detroit Tigers beat for The Detroit News, Tom Gage saw just about every inch of the baseball landscape.
“It’s a combination of love for the game and love for writing,” said Gage of what kept his passion stoked for his job. “You have to accept the challenge that you have to write something that hasn’t been written before. Baseball is great for that, because the stories change every night.”
Born April 2, 1948 in Detroit, Gage grew up following the Tigers and honing his writing skills.
“One of the first things I remember watching TV was sitting about three inches away from an old black-and-white set watching a baseball game,” Gage said. “I think the Tigers were playing the Indians because someone with a big high kick was pitching, probably (Bob) Feller.
“Later on, I used to play the All-Star Baseball game with the spinners and the discs with the kids on the block. Then after we were done, I’d write up game stories about the games either on our old typewriter or longhand. Basically, my career was already taking shape.”
Gage attended Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Va., with the goal of becoming an attorney. But prior to his graduation in 1970, his path took a detour into journalism.
“I thought I was going to law school, but I saw that other students in pre-law where much more serious than I was,” Gage said. “So I started to get into journalism classes, and when I was a senior I wrote a paper about a man in Clifton Forge, Va., who had bought a small daily newspaper after he had worked in newspapers in Philadelphia. He told me he had friends in the business and he recommended me to the Times-Picayune in New Orleans, where I was hired.”
Gage started on the news side but quickly moved into sports – covering events ranging from the NBA’s New Orleans Jazz to baseball stories that would present themselves in the Big Easy. In 1976, Gage came home to Detroit, working for The News. In 1979, Gage took over the Tigers’ beat.
2015 J.G. Taylor Spink Award winner Tom Gage of the Detroit News. (Robin Buckson / Detroit News)