Claire Smith

Claire Smith

Claire Smith, the first woman sportswriter to be honored by the National Baseball Hall of Fame, has been a real pioneer for African American women and people of color in the field of sports media.

Temple University’s Klein College of Media and Communication announced on Wednesday, Oct. 6 plans for the Claire Smith Center for Sports Media. Smith, a distinguished Temple University alumnus, has joined the Klein College faculty and will help lead the center.

“The Claire Smith Center will prepare Temple students for the fast-changing world of sports media, giving them a solid foundation in the values personified by Claire: ethics, integrity and excellence,” said Dean David Boardman in a statement.

In addition, joining Klein College as associate director of the center will be former Philadelphia 76ers play-by-play announcer Marc Zumoff, another Klein College graduate.

“When we learned that Marc was hanging up his Sixers microphone, we went to work to bring him home to Temple,” Boardman said in a statement. “With Claire Smith, Marc Zumoff, and the outstanding faculty members who are already teaching sports media at Klein, our students will have unparalleled opportunities to learn, and to become the Claire Smiths and Marc Zumoffs of the future.”

Boardman said the vision for the center is to create a world-class academic enterprise focused on teaching, professional training and research in the areas of sports journalism, broadcasting, advertising, public relations, production and social influence. Through the center and its new Certificate in Sports Media, Klein College will provide an ethics-grounded approach to education across disciplines at a time when the lines between sports journalism and the business of sports are increasingly blurred.

A particular focus of the center will be breaking down barriers of gender and race in sports media, as Smith herself did as a journalist for ESPN, The New York Times and other newspapers. In 2017, Smith was the first and only woman to receive the Baseball Writers Association of America Career Excellence Award, presented on Hall of Fame Induction Weekend.

These values are deeply entrenched within Klein College, and it has been recognized by its peers as one of the nation’s leaders in diversity, equity and inclusion, winning the 2018 Equity and Diversity Award from the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication among other efforts toward constantly improving our programs’ inclusivity.

The enormous respect that Smith commands in the sports world is reflected in gifts received by Klein College in its campaign to raise at least $1 million to establish and name the Claire Smith Center. The lead donation to the campaign, $350,000, comes jointly from Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association.

“Claire Smith is the embodiment of excellence, integrity and professionalism,” said Rob Manfred, commissioner of baseball, in a statement. “She is the perfect person to name a program after for generations of students to emulate. Major League Baseball is honored to support the Claire Smith Center for Sports Media to help educate a diverse student body to follow the outstanding example of a true trailblazer.”

“Claire was a pioneer in sports journalism as the first woman to regularly cover a Major League Baseball club and the first African American woman to become a full-time beat writer,” said MLBPA executive director Tony Clark, himself a former major-league player in a statement. “Having known Claire since my rookie season, I can attest to the respect she earned among players for both the caliber of her writing and the high level of integrity with which she conducted her work.”

Other major donors so far have included ESPN; the Fernleigh Foundation, whose president, Jane Forbes Clark, is also chairman of the National Baseball Hall of Fame; ESPN commentator Stephen A. Smith; the Philadelphia Phillies; the National Hockey League Players’ Association; and a variety of professional athletes, coaches and executives, including Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker and Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. At this point in time, the campaign is seeking further tax-deductible donations to establish and sustain the center.

Smith, a 1979 graduate of Temple University, was the first women assigned full-time to a Major League Baseball beat, covering the New York Yankees for The Hartford Courant in the mid-1980s. She went on to The New York Times and The Philadelphia Inquirer before joining ESPN in 2007.

In her early days as a reporter, Smith encountered verbal and even physical abuse from players in locker rooms. By the time she was elected as the winner of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America’s Career Excellence Award, she had become one of the game’s most respected writers.

Dodgers manager Roberts reflected on Smith’s new role with the center.

“The strong relationships Claire has built with the players and coaches over her career are unique and really resonate with me,” he said in a statement. “Her leadership of this new center will inevitably prepare students to follow in her footsteps and blaze new trails.”

Phillies executive vice president, David Buck said in a statement, “Claire’s entrance into the academic world is timely and she will bring a dimension to preparing the next generation that is thoughtful, balanced and fair.”

John DiCarlo, managing director of student media at Temple, Klein College alumnus and an adjunct faculty member, will be co-director of the center with Smith. He also is editor of the sports website OwlScoop.com.

Smith and DiCarlo will be joined at the center by Zumoff, a 1992 graduate of Temple and Klein College. Zumoff recently announced his retirement after 27 seasons as the television voice of the Philadelphia 76ers of the National Basketball Association. He has long served as a coach for sports and news broadcasters, and is co-author of a college textbook on sports casting.

Zumoff has won the Mid-Atlantic Emmy Award for best sports play-by-play broadcaster 18 times and — like Smith — is widely admired by colleagues , fans and by the athletes he has covered.

To learn more about the establishment of the Claire Smith Center for Sports Media and make a gift, go to: klein.temple.edu/clairesmithcenter.

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