It is with great pride that I can pass along the news that the man who introduced me to baseball writing, Mr. Paul Hagen, has been named the 2012 recipient of the J.G. Taylor Spink Award, the highest honor the Baseball Writers Association of America bestows upon its membership. Paul will be honored during Hall of Fame Weekend, July 26-29 in Cooperstown, NY.

After attending Ohio University at a time when the Bobcats' baseball team featured a young star named Michael Jack Schmidt, Paul set off on the nomadic life of a young sports writer, passing through San Bernadino and then moving on to Texas, where he worked for the Dallas Times-Herald and the Fort Worth Start-Telegram, before finally heading north to Philadelphia, where he began covering the Phillies in 1987, his first two stories in the Daily News featuring Steve Carlton and Lance Parrish.

After nearly 20 years on the beat, Paul moved into a columnist role, where his considerable experience and insight were a perfect fit. I would not have survived my first couple of years on the Phillies beat if not for his guiding hand and keen sense of story.

Unfortunately, Paul left the Daily News a couple of years ago in order to take his talents to a national level at But he is still a frequent presence at Citizens Bank Park and barstools everywhere.

When the honor was announced on Tuesday morning at the Winter Meetings, Hagen said it was "an out-of-body experience."

I'm sure the entire Daily News staff will join me in extending congratulations to one of sports writings true good guys.