Toronto Mike

Alison Gordon Was Major League Baseball’s First Female Beat Writer

Alison Gordon covered the Blue Jays’ beat for the Toronto Star from 1979 to 1984. At the time, women sportswriters were so rare that her membership card in the Baseball Writers Association of America identified her as Mr. Alison Gordon. They literally couldn't produce a card that was gender-neutral or female-specific.

Alison Gordon died the other day at 72. In addition to being a trailblazer for women sportswriters, she was a great writer. Mark Hebscher has shared his memories of working alongside Alison on his blog.

Once I had done my interviews and sent the tape back to Toronto (via alligator clips over the phone line) and once Alison had written her stories for the Star (on a portable manual typewriter) we would often meet up for dinner and then a long session of backgammon.   She didn't hang around the other writers, and, being a fellow rookie, I didn't pal around with the electronic media much.  I forget the name of the restaurant that was attached to the hotel (It changed every year) but we used to play so much backgammon there, they had to kick us out around midnight because we took up a prime table near the bar.   I lost to her more often than not, and always seemed to be paying for breakfast the next morning to settle our bet.  Had we played for real money, I would've ended up losing my shirt.  She was a good player.  She also knew that the players would test her every chance they got to see if she would crack under the pressure.  Once, she told me about a Bluejays pitcher who had offered her 200 dollars for sex, in order to win a bet.  We laughed about it together, but she knew there would be many more occasions where the players would show their true sexist colours.

Many owe Alison a debt of gratitude.

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