ESPN analyst Tim Kurkjian has been honored by the Baseball Hall of Fame with Career Excellence Award

Cooperstown, New York – ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian’s decades-old love affair with baseball – and everyone associated with it – reached its climax Saturday when he was honored as the recipient of this year’s BBWAA Career Excellence Award.

“This was the most mysterious and most powerful experience of my life,” Kurkjian said during his speech.

Upon accepting the award, which is given annually to a sports writer for “merited contributions to the writing of baseball,” Korkjian takes his place along with a list of previously honored heroes, mentors and friends.

“Johnny Bench called me to congratulate me. And he said ‘Congratulations, Tim.'” Welcome to the club. You are one of us now. “Let’s be clear, I’m not one of them. I’m not in their club. But the greatest stalker of all time called me to congratulate me.”

Baseball was the “primary language used” in the Kurkdjian family and was a major thread in the fabric of his life, going back to his baseball-loving father and two older brothers who played at Catholic University. A native of Bethesda, Maryland, Corkjian played baseball and basketball at Walter Johnson High School—named after the Hall of Famer pitcher. While there, he wrote for the school newspaper titled “The Playground”.

Kurkjian was honored during a special ceremony at the Alice Busch Opera Theater at the Glimmerglass Festival outside Cooperstown, along with the late Jack Graney, who won the Ford C. Frick Award, which honors broadcasters for “significant contributions to baseball.”

“When you look at the names on that list from a long time ago and then go ahead with Peter Jammons, Dan Shaunsea and Jason Stark, I feel so honored,” Kurkjian said on ESPN’s Outside the Lines.

A student of baseball history, Kurkjian was never shy about self-critical humor, and he praised Boston Red Sox legend David Ortiz for induction into the Hall of Fame in exemplary Corkjian style.

“Congratulations to David Ortiz, Big Papy. I have checked out Elias Athletic Bureau, who does just about everything and confirmed that it is the biggest disparity in size between a player being enlisted and a writer being honored in the same year. You reach at least a foot and nearly 200lbs to David Ortiz.”

Kurkjian, 65, has written three books about baseball and his experiences in it. His career began in 1979, when he joined the Washington Star. By 1981, he was covering the Texas Rangers in the Dallas Morning News, followed by a four-year stint covering the Orioles in the Baltimore Sun.

After more than seven years with Sports Illustrated, Kurkjian joined ESPN in 1998. Since then, he has worked as a columnist and has become a prominent part of ESPN’s baseball radio coverage. He has been a fixture on Baseball Tonight, contributed to SportsCenter and worked as a reporter and analyst during the game’s broadcast. Kurkjian has been honored twice for his work in television.

Kurkdjian has transcended his long and varied resume simply by being one of baseball’s most beloved characters and someone who exudes the joy of the game. Korkjian, the son of a mathematician, has always been known for his meticulous work habits, such as the 20-year period when he cut dozens of newspapers from each toy and pasted them into spiral notebooks, a practice that only stopped because dozens of printed boxes became hard to find.

“I always thought Tim was looking for the good in baseball,” said Cal Ripken Jr. of ESPN Willie Weinbaum.

Corkjian Ripken covered during his time in the Orioles’ victory, chronicling his pursuit of Lou Gehrig’s record for consecutive games played. They became friends due to another passion of Korkjian: junior basketball, where he displayed amazing acumen despite standing only 5 feet 4 steps away.

“We’ve been associated with basketball,” Ripken added. “I remember he used to take the NBA ball with him on the road when he was covering us, looking for some kind of game. We reached out and played basketball on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday nights.”

The friendship with Ripken was but one example of the countless relationships Corkjian built during his time in sports as he was known for his positivity and generosity for his writing and radio skill, not to mention his encyclopedic knowledge of baseball, about which nothing was trivial to Corkjian.

Kurkjian’s love affair with baseball continues and reached a whole new level on Saturday, when Kurkjian earned a permanent spot among the immortals of the sport.

“Baseball is the greatest game, it’s the best game ever,” Kurkjian said. “It’s the hardest game in the world to play. It’s a beautiful game and the number of people I’ve met in this game over a number of years who will be my friends for the rest of my life.”

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