Alison Gordon

From BR Bullpen

Alison Gordon

Biographical Information[edit]

Alison Gordon was the first female member of the Baseball Writers Association of America. Infamously, her press credentials listed her "Mr. Alison Gordon" as the BBWAA had made no provisions for female or gender-neutral titles on its cards.

Working for the Toronto Star, she was assigned as the beat writer covering the Toronto Blue Jays in 1979. She covered the team for five seasons and was among the first female reporters to enter a major league clubhouse. Born in New York, NY in a family descended from acclaimed novelist Ralph Connor, she grew up all over the world following her father who worked in the Canadian foreign service. After graduating from Queen's University, she first worked for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, focusing on humor and comedy as a producer for the news show As It Happens. She appeared regularly on air in the show's weekly feature called "Jock Talk". Those talents would serve her well covering the Jays, who were a pretty awful ball club at the time she started.

Being a female beat reporter was pioneering work, but not always easy. The ban on female reporters entering the clubhouse had only been lifted after the 1978 season, following an incident during the 1977 World Series when the New York Yankees had banned Melissa Ludtke from their clubhouse and Ludtke had in turn sued. The Texas Rangers were so appalled at the thought of a female reporter that General Manager Eddie Robinson decided to ban all reporters from the clubhouse when the Blue Jays came to visit in late April 1979 rather than allow Gordon to do her work. As Blue Jays outfielder Lloyd Moseby, who always supported her work, put it:

"We had four or five guys that really rallied around not letting her in the clubhouse, but I don’t think Alison gave a damn, to tell you the truth. She could have very easily taken the words that a lot of guys said and took it to heart and went back to her bosses and said, 'I’m not doing this. I don’t get paid to take abuse.' But she never did. She kept showing up. And it was amazing, really. I’m just proud to have known Alison."

She also authored five mystery novels featuring female sportswriter Kate Henry as her main protagonist. All of them have baseball-derived titles: The Dead Pull Hitter (1988); Safe At Home (1990); Night Game (1992); Striking Out (1995); and Prairie Hardball (1997). The series was quite successful and was reprinted a number of times. She wrote an account of her time as a baseball beat reporter entitled Foul ball!: Five years in the American League, which came out in 1985.

She passed away in Toronto, ON on February 12, 2015 at the age of 77 following surgery for a lung condition. In 2017, she was named the posthumous recipient of the Jack Graney Award by the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, the first woman to receive that particular honor.

Further Reading[edit]

  • Alison Gordon: Foul ball!: Five years in the American League, Dodd, Mead and Company, New York, NY, 1985. ISBN 978-0396086512
  • Brendan Kennedy: "Pioneering Toronto Star baseball writer Alison Gordon dead at 72: Gordon, who covered the Blue Jays for the Star from 1979 to 1984, was Major League Baseball’s first female beat writer", Toronto Star, February 13, 2015. [1]
  • Chad Thornburg: "Female sports media pioneer dies at 72: Alison Gordon, BBWAA's first female member, was on Blue Jays beat from 1979-84", mlb.com, February 13, 2015. [2]

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