2020 Tony Salin Memorial Award Recipient: Alex Belth

The Board of Directors of the Baseball Reliquary is pleased to announce that Alex Belth has been selected as the recipient of the 2020 Tony Salin Memorial Award. The award will be formally presented at the Shrine of the Eternals 2020 Induction Day, which, due to the coronavirus pandemic, has been postponed until 2021. The festivities will also include the presentation of the 2020 Hilda Award and the induction of the 2020 class of electees to the Baseball Reliquary’s Shrine of the Eternals: Rube Foster, Max Patkin, and Bob Costas.

Established in 2002 to recognize individuals for their commitment to the preservation of baseball history, the Tony Salin Memorial Award is named in honor of the baseball historian, author, and Reliquarian who passed away in 2001. From the time he was eight years old, Salin was referred to as “Mr. Baseball” by family and friends, whom he regularly astounded with his exhaustive knowledge of facts and trivia related to old-time ballplayers. Over the years, this preoccupation blossomed into a passion for the study and research of unsung players and forgotten aspects of baseball history which he felt were important to document and keep alive for future generations.

The 2020 Salin Award recipient, ALEX BELTH is dedicated to preserving great journalism and writing about arts and culture as the editor of Esquire Classic, the magazine’s digital archive, as well as his own archive site, The Stacks Reader. Previously, he was one of the original Yankee bloggers; his long-running Bronx Banter, an outlet for Yankee fans to praise and condemn their beloved Bronx Bombers, was dubbed “a New York treasure” by The Village Voice. He is the author of Stepping Up: The Story of Curt Flood and His Fight for Baseball Players’ Rights and The Dudes Abide: The Coen Brothers and The Making of “The Big Lebowski” (a Kindle Single). Alex is also the editor of The Best Sports Writing of Pat Jordan and Lasting Yankee Stadium Memories: Unforgettable Tales from the House That Ruth Built.

It is through his labor of love, The Stacks Reader, that Alex has honed his curatorial skills, gathering and sharing an astonishing mix of articles, essays, and longform reportage, digging out hidden gems from obscure and long-defunct publications. “It gives me a tremendous sense of satisfaction that I am doing something that is bigger than me,” Alex says. “Creatively and emotionally, it’s incredibly enriching.”

Alex has described The Stacks Reader as “an online collection of classic journalism and writing about the arts that would otherwise be lost to history. Motivated less by nostalgia than by preservation, The Stacks Reader is a living archive of memorable storytelling – a museum for stories. We celebrate writers, highlight memorable publications, honor notable personalities, and produce interviews with writers and editors and illustrators in the hope of offering compelling insight into how journalism worked, particularly in the second half of the 20th Century.

“While the online world denies us the physical experience of books and magazines, it does offer us limitless space. We all benefit from the preservation of the remarkable work these writers and publications produced. What’s here will always be just a fraction of the great journalism that’s been written, but each piece republished online is one fewer piece at risk of being entirely forgotten.”

The heavy-hitting wordsmiths whose baseball writing Alex has preserved and shared at The Stacks Reader include Skip Bayless, Bruce Buschel, Richard Ben Cramer, Pete Dexter, Joe Flaherty, W. C. Heinz, Paul Hemphill, Pat Jordan, Murray Kempton, George Kimball, John Lardner, Ring Lardner, J. Anthony Lukas, William Nack, Charles Pierce, Peter Richmond, Diane K. Shah, Red Smith, and Wendell Smith, among others.

One of those sportswriters who Alex has championed over the years, John Schulian, was a columnist for newspapers such as the Chicago Sun-Times and Philadelphia Daily News, as well as a contributor to magazines as far ranging as GQ and Sports Illustrated. “Alex strikes me as the kind of guy the Reliquary’s guiding lights had in mind when they dreamed up the Salin Award,” Schulian remarks. “Passionate, opinionated, intrepid, and relentlessly friendly, he has in little more than a decade become the premier curator of the game’s press box literature. He can find the beauty in yellowed dispatches from newspapers long dead, and make a case for baseball’s place in the cultural zeitgeist alongside hip hop and the movies of the Coen brothers. I think Tony Salin would have loved sitting next to him at a ball game. And I know the feeling is mutual.”

Regarding the Salin Award, Alex Belth has said, “I would love to come to the Shrine ceremony next year or whenever you all will be holding it post-COVID. I am humbled and delighted. It’s the opposite of the old Groucho Marx joke because this is exactly the kind of club I would hope would have me as a member!”

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