Left to right: Cooper Rollow, Toni Ginnetti, Dan Roan.
The Ring Lardner Award is one of the most prestigious journalism honors bestowed on worthy sportswriters and sportscasters in America.
This year’s honorees were Toni Ginnetti (print), Dan Roan (broadcast) and Cooper Rollow (posthumous). The ceremony was held virtually since last spring’s annual dinner was postponed due to Covid-19 restrictions.
The event, conducted by the Union League Club of Chicago, benefits the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. The namesake of the award- Ring Lardner- was the famed sports columnist of the Chicago Tribune, as well as an author and satirist for several other publications. The former “In the Wake of the News” columnist, who died in 1933, was well known for his collection of essays titled “You Know Me Al.” He also published stories such as “Haircut” and “Alibi Ike,” to name a few.
I had the good fortune to work alongside all of this year’s awardees over my 41-year career at the Chicago Tribune, covering baseball, football, basketball and countless other events. Ginnetti was one of the first female sportswriters in Chicago and always conducted herself professionally while earning the respect of her colleagues, as well as the many coaches and players she interviewed over the years.
Fellow veteran sportswriter Rick Telander presented Ginnetti for her award while citing her writing skills, compassion, fairness and cheerful spirit.
A graduate of Northwestern University, Ginnetti began as a news-side reporter before transitioning seamlessly into sports at the Chicago Sun-Times. She retired full-time in 2014 before filling in occasionally a couple of years after that on a freelance basis.
Roan has been a mainstay on the Chicago sports broadcast scene for four decades at WGN-TV. His genuine, straight-forward approach has made him a reliable source of information and insight. In addition to his regular sports segments on the WGN newscasts, Roan often filled in admirably on Chicago Cubs television broadcasts over the years.
Retired longtime Chicago sportscaster Rich King presented Roan for his award, pointing out Roan’s natural ability to both write and present his broadcasts succinctly.
Rollow was the sports editor of the Chicago Tribune from 1969-77 and hired me as the first African-American sportswriter in the history of the paper in 1974. In addition to his administrative duties, Rollow continued to write for the Tribune, covering the Bears and the rest of the NFL over his 35-year stint at the paper. The Kansas alum was the winner of the Dick McCann Memorial writing award from the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
During his presentation of Rollow, former longtime Chicago Tribune sportswriter Mike Conklin pointed out that Rollow had the respect of players, coaches and NFL executives, including league pioneers George Halas and Vince Lombardi.
Rollow died on March 29, 2013, at the age of 87. He had served as president of the Pro Football Writers Association (PFWA) 1983-84. During the 1972 Olympics, Rollow and the late Tribune sportswriter Bob Markus chronicled the terrorist attacks in Munich, Germany.
As the recipient of the 2014 Ring Lardner Award, I know how honored and grateful this year’s winners and their families are to have this well-earned recognition.
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