Cooperstown Inducts First Woman into Hall of Fame

When Claire Smith wakes up for work and looks in the mirror, she sees herself as just another baseball reporter, but to the Major League Baseball community she is so much more. Smith set history as the first woman to ever be inducted into the Writers’ Wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Though many other female reporters came before her, not many have done it like her. Beginning her career as a baseball journalist in 1983 for the Hartford Courant, Smith was a natural at the job, eventually earning roles at the New York Times and many other established news outlets before assuming her latest role as coordinating editor at ESPN, a role which she still holds today.

But times weren’t always bright for Smith as she was the victim of misogyny. During the 1984 National League Championship Series, Smith was denied access to the San Diego Padres clubhouse for being a woman. This incident, in light of the ruling in 1979 that allowed each clubhouse to have its own locker room policies in regards to “equal access”, took the MLB by storm and caused uproar.

When looking back at the situation, Smith treated it very serious, “That incident did stay with me for a while. For a couple of years, it made it very hard each spring to walk through the clubhouse door on the first day of spring training on teams where I didn’t know the players”.

Although it is now in the past, the incident has stayed with Smith and is a reminder to keep pushing forward and stay positive, “I hope it’s not what people think of when they say my name,” Smith said. “I’d rather talk about the hundreds and thousands of players… who wanted to be professional and do their job so I could do mine”.

Smith now acts as a mentor to many other women in the field and reflected on the impact she has had, “It’s been [amazing] getting a sense that what I did wasn’t in as much of a vacuum as I thought’.

Smith’s legacy will live on forever as the work she has done to change the perspective on women in journalism has certified the idea that she will not be the last to enter Cooperstown.