Longtime Royals writer up for HOF award

November 13th, 2020

KANSAS CITY -- Just the thought of being on the ballot for the prestigious J.G. Taylor Spink Award is worth it for longtime baseball writer Dick Kaegel.

Kaegel, who covered baseball for more than 50 years for The Sporting News, the Kansas City Star and MLB.com, among other organizations, is one of three writers on the ballot for this year’s Spink Award, which is the highest honor given by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

Past winners of the Spink Award who have earned their place in Cooperstown’s Baseball Hall of Fame include Ring Lardner, Red Smith, Jim Murray, Claire Smith and Joe McGuff of the Kansas City Star.

Kaegel is on the ballot this year, along with longtime New York and MLB.com baseball writer Marty Noble, who passed away last year at age 70, and Allan Simpson, the founder of Baseball America.

“It is such a great honor,” Kaegel said. “It’s kind of like the Academy Awards -- just getting nominated is really special.

“And to be nominated along with people that I’ve known and respected for so long, like Allan Simpson of Baseball America and Marty Noble, makes it so much more special.”

Kaegel began his journalism career in the summer of 1956 at age 16 as a full-time sportswriter at the Belleville (Ill.) News-Democrat. Years later, he received a journalism degree from the University of Missouri.

Kaegel was an associate editor of The Sporting News from 1965-68, and then it was on to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch from '68-79.

From there, Kaegel was editor-in-chief of The Sporting News from 1979-85.

From 1988-2003, Kaegel covered baseball and the Royals for the Kansas City Star, including events such as the World Series earthquake in 1989 and George Brett reaching his 3,000th hit in '92. From 2004-14, he covered the Royals for MLB.com.

In 2011, four years after undergoing a liver transplant because of cancer, Kaegel covered all 162 Royals games. Kaegel said the purpose of that almost unheard-of achievement was to encourage people to become organ donors and to demonstrate to other transplant recipients that they could resume productive lives.

Kaegel retired after the 2014 World Series at age 75, after the Royals lost in seven games to the San Francisco Giants.

“Dick Kaegel was a king among baseball writers,” said ESPN’s Jeff Passan, the Kansas City BBWAA chapter president. “And the best part about Dick was that he never acted regal. He just did his job, without fail, for more than 50 years. Longevity in baseball is a virtue, and it was no accident that Dick’s career lasted as long as it did.”

Kaegel also was admired by those in the baseball community.

“I’ve had the privilege to work with some tremendous veteran beat writers in my career,” said Royals vice president of communications Mike Swanson, “but none of them have the professional résumé of Dick Kaegel. To cover our club for an entire 162-game season, after enduring an organ transplant, is one of the greatest accomplishments I’ve ever witnessed. There are few, if any, who are more deserving of the Spink Award.”

Added Royals general manager Dayton Moore: “[Kaegel] was one of the most professional people in the game of baseball. He cared deeply about the future of the game. And he had a great understanding of the difficulties in succeeding in this game, and that rang true in everything he wrote. That’s what made him so good at his profession.”

Kaegel became a member of the BBWAA 55 years ago, joining the St. Louis Chapter in 1965. He served as Kansas City chapter chairman for several years.