Ohio Journalist

Hagen’s Claim to Faim

By Ashleigh Mavros

(December 1, 2015) — In October 1959 third grader Paul Hagen was asked by his teacher whom he would be rooting for in the World Series. His response: “What’s the World Series?” His teacher explained that it was the championship of baseball, that year between the White Sox and the Dodgers. A curious Hagen asked whom she was rooting for. After hearing her response of the White Sox, he said he would pick the Dodgers.

Hagen had no idea what fate had in store for him and his new favorite team. More than five decades later, after working at the San Bernardino Sun, covering MLB baseball for various newspapers, and writing for MLB.com, he won the J.G. Taylor Spink Award and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame last summer.

Paul Hagen grew up in upstate New York before attending Ohio University to pursue a journalism career. At his college orientation, he was given a bit of advice: Classes were great, but practical experience was even better. Hagen immediately went to work for the Post. He covered a wide array of sports and earned a sports co-editor position his junior year.

He also freelanced for the Athens Messenger, eventually hearing about an opening for sports editor. Hagen was offered the position, all the while still taking classes. After graduation, he took the position fulltime.

While at the Messenger, Hagen ran into Phil Fuhrer, former Post sports editor and current sports assistant editor at the San Bernardino Sun. This connection with a fellow alumnus led him to his position as the Dodgers’ writer at the Sun, where he worked for three years.

Following his tenure at the Sun, a fortunate string of events and connections would result in Hagen covering the Texas Rangers for 10 years at the Dallas Times Herald and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. In 1987, he moved to Pennsylvania to report on the Phillies for the Philadelphia Daily News, eventually finding his way to his current position as a national writer for MLB.com.

Throughout his career, Hagen has covered baseball and football and even had the opportunity to cover the 2004 Summer Olympics in Greece the Philadelphia Daily News.

But mostly he is known for covering baseball, a writing career of more than 40 years recognized with the J.G. Taylor Spink Award presented by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America for a “lifetime of excellence in baseball writing.”

Hagen is the only living person to be inducted into the MLB Hall of Fame and the second Ohio University alumnus ever to receive the Spink Award. Hagan is humble when speaking about the award but believes it has a greater significance for his wife and two children.

“To get a peer-voted award like that is pretty nice. It’s people you’ve worked with and not just know your work, but how you went about doing it,” said Hagan. “Honestly, the most exciting part about it was to see how excited my wife and kids are about it.”

Looking down the road, Hagen foresees retirement in the next decade. After a month break before starting his MLB. com job, he thoroughly enjoyed his time and had plenty to do. “I convinced myself I could be a really good retired person.”

For now, he’s continuing to do what he’s done since graduating from OU.

“If you’re going to do a job, do it right. You may not be the most talented, but you’ve always got to work,” preached Hagen.

If only that third grader knew what he was getting himself into by picking the Dodgers for the World Series: a successful baseball writing career for more than 40 years, writing for MLB.com and receiving the highest honor for baseball writing. His teacher would surely be proud.

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