We at the BoFN love names with alliteration. Say it with me. Walter Wellesley “Red” Smith.
While Smith is not a funny name, add a color and you get a whole lot more.
Let’s get the ball rolling. What’s black and white and red all over? The newspaper. Bah dump bump.
There was a time when sports reporter Red Smith was read all over. 275 newspapers in this country and 225 newspapers in other countries around the world.
Young Red grew up in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Not to be confused with Red Green, who is a fictional person played by Steve Smith.
Red graduated from Green Bay East High School in 1923. The original home of the Green Bay Packers until 1957. (Go Packers).
He graduated from Notre Dame University in 1927. Possibly leading to a life of sports reporting, but that’s only an assumption.
After graduation, he wrote to 100 newspapers asking for a job. The Milwaukee Sentinel drafted him as a reporter. From there he traded jobs to become a sports reporter for the St. Louis Journal, developing his humorous yet literate writing style. And like Harry “Suit Case” Simpson, traded jobs once again for the Philadelphia Record. Next stop, the New York Herald Tribune for 18 years until it folded.
He freelanced or a free agented if you will . . . not to be confused with a secret agent. But I digress.
By 1971 he was picked up by the New York Times. While reporting for the NYT on baseball, football, boxing and horse racing, he picked up a few awards.
A heavy-weight in sports reporting, he was the second sports reporter to earn a Pulitzer Prize. Now that’s some hat trick.
He hit it out of the park with the J.G. Taylor Spink Award from the Baseball Hall of Fame. With no holds bar, the Associated Press got in on the deal and awarded him the first ever Red Smith Award for “outstanding contributions to sports journalism.” Perhaps that one was a slam-dunk.
Because there are no photos of Red in the public domain, here’s a link to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Smith is best known for his quote, “Writing is easy. You just open a vein and bleed”. We know it better as bleeding on the page.
Smith went the distance. Until he announced on January 11, 1982 he would cut his columns down to three days a week—at age 76—four days later, he went down for the count.