Larry Whiteside threw out a ceremonial first pitch prior to a Red Sox game at Fenway Park in September 2003. (Globe File Photo / Jim Davis)
Those of you who knew Larry Whiteside are saddened by news of his death at age 69 this morning. He was one of the finest people I had ever come in contact with in the newspaper business. He was always willing to help young reporters and he helped many African-American reporters get jobs through the years.
The Boston chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America had approved his nomination for the J.G. Taylor Spink Award (Baseball Hall of Fame) earlier this year. His name will be offered to the national committee, who will chose three finalists for the award at the All-Star game.
In my nomination letter to the national committe, I wrote:
Mr. Whiteside was a major league baseball writer for more than 30 years. He began his career as a sports writer at the Kansas City Kansan in 1959 through 1963. He was also a sports reporter/baseball writer at the Milwaukee Journal from 1963-1973, where he was also recruited to cover the civil rights movement.
Mr. Whiteside covered the Milwaukee Braves careers of Hank Aaron, Eddie Mathews, Felipe Alou, Joe Torre and Warren Spahn before their departure to Atlanta. After the Seattle Pilots moved to Milwaukee in 1970, Mr. Whiteside covered the first four seasons of the new Milwaukee Brewers franchise, owned by current Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig.
When he was hired by the Boston Globe in 1973, Mr. Whiteside was the only African-American reporter in America covering major league baseball on a daily basis for a major newspaper, carrying on the legacy of Hall of Fame baseball writer and Mr. Whiteside’s idol, Sam Lacy, a former Spink’s winner.
“Larry was a pioneer in his own right,” said Selig. “I remember in 1972 I offered him a position in public relations for the Brewers, but Larry made the decision to remain a journalist and was hired at the Boston Globe a year later. He’s one of the finest reporters and one of the finest people I’ve ever encountered. He’s a man who promoted the game of baseball with his fine, fair and objective reporting for so many years.”
Mr. Whiteside was considered an expert on Negro League baseball. He was also among the first group of baseball writers to provide extensive coverage of baseball in Japan and Australia, making four trips to Japan and two trips to Australia. Mr. Whiteside was the Red Sox beat writer for many years, but later in his career he became the senior national baseball writer, assigned the most important national stories of the day for the Globe.
In 1971 Mr. Whiteside created “The Black List” of African-American journalists designed to aid sports editors in helping hire qualified African-American journalists. Whiteside’s influence helped expand the list from nine in 1971 to more than 90 names by 1983.
“Larry Whiteside was an important figure in Boston baseball history,” said former Boston Globe managing editor Thomas Mulvoy, who hired Whiteside. “It was long past time to have a minority reporter on one of our major beats. Larry Whiteside was the first African-American beat writer in the sports department.”
Mr. Whiteside was honored in 1999 by the National Association of Black Journalists for his work in advancing the careers of African-American sports writers.
He is also three-time chairman of the Boston chapter of the Baseball Writers of America. The Boston Baseball Writers’ chapter awarded him the prestigious Dave O’Hara Award for long and meritorious service to the Boston chapter. He also received the prestigious New England Sport Museum Legacy Award for his work in helping to increase the number of African Americans working in sports departments across the country.
A graduate of Englewood High School in Chicago, Ill., Mr. Whiteside also attended Woodrow Wilson Junior College (Chicago) and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from Drake University. In 1987 he was chosen for a Stanford University John S. Knight Professional Journalism Fellowship, where he studied international affairs and labor law.
Listed in “Who’s Who of Black Americans,” Mr. Whiteside was also on the All-Century team expert panel. He covered numerous World Series and All-Star games including the memorable 1975 and 1986 World Series.
He’s truly one of the finest people I have ever met, who loved baseball and loved helping young reporters get their careers started.
National Baseball Writer
To his wife Elaine and his son Tony, my deepest sympathy. He was a great man.