John Lowe, the former longtime Detroit Tigers beat writer for the Free Press, has been elected the 2023 winner of the Baseball Writers Association of America Career Excellence Award, the BBWAA announced on Tuesday.
Lowe will be honored during next summer’s Baseball Hall of Fame ceremony in Cooperstown, New York, in July.
Renown among baseball scribes and professed “seamheads” for his shirt, tie, suitcoat and Panama hat in the press box, Lowe covered the Tigers for 29 seasons. His mark on how journalists and fans view the game has been etched in time with his creation of the stat “quality start” for when a starting pitcher throws six or more innings and allows three earned runs or fewer.
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A former BBWAA president, Lowe joined the Free Press in the early stages of the 1986 season from the Philadelphia Inquirer after spending time covering the Angels and Dodgers for the Los Angeles Daily News. The Southern Cal grad went on to cover the 1987 American League East Division winners, Mike Ilitch’s purchase of the Tigers, the retirements of Sparky Anderson, Lou Whitaker and Alan Trammell, the final game at Tiger Stadium and the team’s most successful run in franchise history.
Lowe was named the Michigan sports writer of the year in 2012.
In an ironic twist fit for a baseball writer, John Lowe’s final game he covered for the Free Press was the Tigers’ final loss in the 2014 playoffs, at home to the Orioles. He announced his retirement from journalism the following week. The Tigers have not been to the postseason since.
Lowe is the third writer from Detroit to be so honored. Former Free Press and Detroit News columnist Joe Falls was the 2001 winner, and Tom Gage, Lowe’s counterpart for many years at the Detroit News, won the award in 2015. Other recent award winners include Tim Kurkjian (2022), Jayson Stark (2019), Claire Smith (the first woman; 2017) and Peter Gammons (2004).