Hummel is known as “The Commissioner” throughout baseball, which he has covered in St. Louis for 33 years, and is the 57th winner of the award since its inception in 1962. The Spink Award is named for another St. Louis legend, one who was the driving force behind The Sporting News, known during Spink’s lifetime as the “Baseball Bible.”
Hummel covered his first major-league game in 1973 and served as the Cardinals’ beat writer for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch for 24 years, from 1978 through 2001. Since then, he has been the Post- Dispatch’s national baseball columnist, and 2007 marks Hummel’s 35th year with the paper. Hummel was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 1980 and was named Missouri Sportswriter of the Year four times by the National Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association in Salisbury, N.C.
Hummel has covered 28 All-Star Games and 29 World Series, most recently reporting the Cardinals’ 2006 victory against the Detroit Tigers. Last year’s Series marked the Redbirds’ second win since he began covering the team; the other victory came in 1982, with the Cardinals losing in the 1982, 1985 and 2004 World Series. “The Commish” earned his nickname early in his career for organizing the Post-Dispatch newsroom’s softball and bowling leagues. But that honorary title has come to reflect his encyclopedic knowledge of baseball, its rules, players and history.
“I have learned a lot from Whitey Herzog, Joe Torre and Tony La Russa about how to watch the game and maybe how to write about it a little,” Hummel has said. “You couldn’t pick three better [teachers] than that.”
Rick is a past recipient of the Jack Buck Award at the annual Multiple Sclerosis Dinner in St. Louis and the Bob Broeg-Jack Buck Award at the Missouri Athletic Club Dinner. Hummel was national president of the BBWAA in 1994, served on the Spink Award Committee for 10 years and is a member of the BBWAA’s Historical Overview and Screening Committees, which help devise the Veterans Committee ballot for the Hall of Fame.
2006 J.G. Taylor Spink Award Winner Rick Hummel (Chris Lee/National Baseball Hall of Fame Library)