The Sporting News

The first edition of The Sporting News was published by Alfred H. Spink and his brother, Charles, on March 17, 1886, in St. Louis. A total of 4,986 issues of the weekly appeared with the Spink name at the top. The eight-page paper sold for five cents, or $2.50 per year, and featured news of baseball, cycling, hunting, boxing, and the stage. Charles C. Spink was in South Dakota trying his hand at homesteading when his brother offered him $50 a week to handle the business end of the publication. The Spinks later published the first baseball guide, as well as record books, The Sporting News Dealer, and many baseball books. The paper stayed in the family until it was sold in 1977 to the Times-Mirror Company for $18 million.

In the early 20th century, it had evolved into a baseball-only paper. After WWII, it began to cover other sports. In 1962 C.C. Johnson Spink removed the traditional eagle with a streamer in his beak reading “Baseball” from the masthead, despite strong objections from longtime readers. Keeping the record straight and siding with whatever it felt was in the best interests of the game were two hallmarks of the paper. In 1981 they discovered an error in a 1910 box score that would have made Nap Lajoie that year’s batting champion instead of Ty Cobb. A committee appointed by the Commissioner’s office voted unanimously that the records should not be changed. The Sporting News answered, “They said we were trying to rewrite history. But if history is wrong it should be righted.”