COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- Like Tony Whiteside said, his father's shoes were big ones to fill.
Accepting the J.G. Taylor Spink Award on Sunday for his father, Larry Whiteside, who passed away last year, the younger Whiteside spoke eloquently and admirably in honoring a journalist whose influence was felt beyond his readership.
Whiteside, who had a 45-year journalistic career, posthumously entered Cooperstown as the 2008 winner of the J.G. Taylor Spink Award, presented annually for meritorious contributions to baseball writing.
Lawrence W. Whiteside is the 59th recipient of the award, and the third African-American, behind Wendell Smith in 1993 and Sam Lacy in 1997.
A respected reporter who spent 31 years of his career with The Boston Globe, Whiteside made it easier for other African-Americans to follow. In 1971, he assembled and circulated among editors a database of qualified black journalists. At the outset, The Black List had nine names; by 1983, it numbered more than 90.
Born in Chicago on Sept. 19, 1937, "Sides" graduated from Drake University in 1959 and landed his first job later that year with the Kansas City Kansan. When Whiteside moved into the Red Sox beat in 1973, he became the only black reporter regularly covering Major League Baseball for a major daily.
In 1980, having met the 10-years-on-the-beat qualification, he became the first black Hall of Fame voter.
"Indeed, my father's legacy is a message of hope and courage," Tony Whiteside said Sunday. "While it is tempting to view my father's career strictly through the prism of race, he didn't see things that way. He was a hard-working journalist, and a baseball man above all else.
"And he earned the respect of others as a talented writer, colleague and friend."
When Tony Whiteside finished his speech, master of ceremonies George Grande thanked the younger Whiteside.
"Tony, you fill those shoes just fine," Grande said. "Pop's up there watching, and he's proud."
Willie Bans is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.