At my first professional journalism job, at the San Bernardino Sun, in 1976, one of the biggest and brightest influences on me was Paul Hagen, whom I considered a wise old sports writing veteran. He might have been 25.
Paul covered the Dodgers for us, and he did it well and loved the beat. The Sun did not travel with the club back then, but I remember him working in the office with the radio tuned to the game (and Vin Scully) so he could stay current with the Dodgers, who were very good in the middle 1970s, and perhaps rewrite the wire story when it landed.
He covered a range of topics, including the Los Angeles Rams, but he did local stuff, too, and was often in the office, and he was generous with his time and with insights. He was always upbeat, and no question was “stupid.”
He went on to cover baseball full-time in Dallas and Fort Worth and in Philadelphia, becoming one of the country’s leading ball writers, and now comes word he has been given the Spink Award for “meritorious contributions to baseball writing.” He will be honored at the Hall of Fame induction ceremony in July.
I could not be happier for him.
I kept in touch with Paul over the years, and fairly regularly saw him in baseball press boxes, when the Phillies or Rangers were in town, and he would ask about the old guys at The Sun, and recall the stories of when we were young. Really young.
It was a colorful crew, and not a bad place to get started, get some clips and move on, and that is what Paul did. I have a memory him getting a big raise, to perhaps $250 a week, when he left The Sun. Which was real money; I was making $184.50 a week.
In the first few weeks of writing this blog, four-plus years ago, I did a long piece on Paul, and my own early struggles covering baseball, and how he eased them.
I will always remember him as a great help, a mentor, a fine reporter and writer, and just a really good guy who was generous with his time and advice.
I am glad he has been recognized for a long and distinguished career.