Thursday, January 16, 2003

Obituary: Reds writer Earl Lawson, 79

Journalist in two halls of fame

By Karen Andrew
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Mr. Lawson

Earl Lawson, who covered the Reds for 35 years, was inducted into the writer's wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1985 and was a member of the Cincinnati Journalism Hall of Fame, died Tuesday of cancer at his home in Sacramento, Calif.

He was 79.

Reds broadcaster Joe Nuxhall, a former Reds pitcher, said he knew Mr. Lawson since the early 1950s and that Mr. Lawson was probably the one who influenced then-manager Rogers Hornsby to put Mr. Nuxhall in the starting rotation in 1953.

"He was a class writer. He was really a good guy to be around. He was an excellent writer in covering the Reds. I had a lot of respect for him," said Mr. Nuxhall.

When he was 17, he began a long career in newspapers as a copyboy for the old Cincinnati Times-Star. His career was interrupted when he joined the Army in World War II.

In 1946, Mr. Lawson returned to the Times-Star to work in the sports department. He began covering the Reds part-time in 1949, and in 1951 he was promoted to the beat full-time.

When the Times-Star was bought out by the Cincinnati Post in 1958, Mr. Lawson was one of only three reporters hired by the Post.

In his book, Cincinnati Seasons, Mr. Lawson said he lived like a millionaire for the next 30 years and was paid for it.

He "mingled with the sports celebrities of the world and formed friendships that I'll cherish forever," he wrote. "I was a baseball writer."

Mr. Lawson was widely credited with being one of the first sportswriters to quote players and managers, not just spout statistics.

He was the official scorer at Reds home games and was the team's correspondent for The Sporting News.

In 1985, Mr. Lawson received the J.G. Taylor Spink Award for excellence in baseball writing at the writers' wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. The Spink Award is the highest honor a baseball writer can receive.

He wrote his last Reds game story on Sept. 30, 1984, when the Reds defeated the Houston Astros 7-6 at Riverfront Stadium. He retired from the Cincinnati Post in 1985.

He moved to Sacramento about 2 years ago and lived with one of his daughters, Lisa-Helene Damron.

Other survivors include another daughter, Nancy Sanders of Louisville; a sister, Betty Jung of Cincinnati; five grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.

A memorial service will be held at Arlington National Cemetery.

Memorials: Veterans of Foreign Wars, 406 W. 34th St, Kansas City, MO 64111; or Jewish Theological Seminary, Torah Fund, Attention: Carolyn Baron, 3080 Broadway, New York, NY 10027.


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