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The BBWAA was founded on October 14, 1908, to improve working conditions for sportswriters in the early part of the 20th century; It also sought to promote uniformity of scoring methods, and to professionalize the press box, such that access was limited only to working reporters, telegraphers, and others who had a reason to be there. The forty-three founding members of the Baseball Writers Association first met in mid-October 1908. They included Joe S. Jackson, who became the association's first president. At that time, Jackson was the sporting editor (today called sports editor) of the Detroit Free Press. Also selected as officers were Irving E. Sanborn of the Chicago Tribune, syndicated columnist Hugh Fullerton, and Boston Globe baseball writer Tim Murnane A second meeting was held in New York City in December; Sanborn decided he could not serve as an officer at that time, and he was replaced by William Weart of the Philadelphia Times. The slate of officers was ratified, and anyone who wrote about baseball in major league cities was eligible for membership. This policy changed, however, in December 1913, at which time it was decided that minor league baseball writers could also become members. Then, Jackson became a dominant force in the early years of the baseball writers, being elected as president of the association during nine consecutive terms. Jackson finally retired in 1919, while Sanborn returned to assume the position of president. After that, Jackson became a member of the BBWAA Board of Directors.
The organization's primary function is to work with Major League Baseball and individual teams to assure clubhouse and press-box access for BBWAA members. In addition, BBWAA members also elect players to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, which is the organization's most public function. All writers with 10 years of membership in the BBWAA are eligible to vote for the Hall of Fame. The BBWAA also votes annually for the Kenesaw Mountain Landis Most Valuable Player Award, Cy Young Award, Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Award, and Manager of the Year Award in each of the two major leagues. The Hall of Fame also empowers the BBWAA's Historical Overview Committee, made up of 11 or 12 veteran BBWAA members, to formulate the annual ballot for the Veterans Committee.
Considering the ready availability of television broadcasts for the majority of baseball games, plus instant access to information through the Internet, some have called into question why the BBWAA has not broadened its membership rules to include broadcasters and researchers. (Similar arguments were made for the inclusion of Web-based journalists, before the BBWAA added Web writers to its ranks in December, 2007.
Others have openly questioned why the BBWAA is involved in the award and Hall of Fame voting processes at all, citing in some cases journalistic integrity and the need to remain unbiased in their coverage of newsworthy events.
The BBWAA's most public function is to annually vote on candidates for the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
In addition, the BBWAA is responsible for voting on several annual awards in each major league, including:
From 1953 to 1962, the BBWAA presented a "Sophomore of the Year Award" in each league.
In 1997, a 36-member BBWAA panel selected the Major League Baseball All-Time Team.
Replicas of various BBWAA awards and lists of past winners are displayed at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, in the Records Room, which also has other exhibits, including charts showing active and all-time leaders in various baseball statistical categories.
Names of members are followed by the name of the organization for whom they write.
Note: New York Times, Washington Post and Baltimore Sun writers have stated that they are no longer permitted to vote by their employers. The Los Angeles Times has a similar policy, though it appears to be negotiable.
A-Rod picked up the hardware at the 87th annual New York baseball writers' dinner Saturday night.
The winner is presented with the [Terry Ryan Award] at the annual Baseball Writers Association of America Diamond Awards along with many other prestigious Twins awards.
[She] was elected president ... at the annual World Series meeting of the BBWAA.
A member of the Baseball Writers Association of America, Smith has written about sports for over 25 years, for the Philadelphia Bulletin, Hartford Courant, New York Times, and Philadelphia Inquirer. For over 20 years, her beat was Major League Baseball. In July 2007, she started in a new direction and new industry when she joined ESPN as a news editor, working with the production teams on MLB game broadcasts.
"Baseball Writers Unite." Washington Post, October 15, 1908, p. 9.
He served for many years as an officer of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America and was chairman of the New York chapter in 1969-70.