2019 Judges

Jarrett Bell- USA Today Sports

Jarrett Bell, proud Spartan, is NFL Columnist for USA TODAY Sports — with a license to question Bill Belichick’s 4th-and-2 strategy. He’s also a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

To this day, Jim Murray remains such an inspiration in the most essential sense — as a writer who elegantly humanized the craft. Murray’s work always seemed personal to me, like I was reading a letter penned specifically to me and not to a million other readers. As I developed in my career, his style illustrated what I’m still aspiring to become as a writer. There’s some true love flowing here.
— Jarrett Bell

Zach Berman- Philadelphia Enquirer

Zach Berman covers the Philadelphia Eagles for The Philadelphia Inquirer. His first book, UNDERDOGS: The Philadelphia Eagles’ Emotional Road to Super Bowl Victory, was released in October 2018. He was previously a staff writer for The Washington Post and Newark Star-Ledger, and was a contributor for The New York Times. He’s also appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia (formerly Comcast SportsNet) since 2011. Zach lives in Philadelphia with his wife, Emily; son, Reid; and daughter, Sloane.
Zach is a 2007 Murray Scholar from Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.
My introduction to Jim Murray came from reading a Rick Reilly column on the back page of Sports Illustrated when I was in the seventh grade. 
“Murray could write anything,” Reilly wrote, “sports just happened to get lucky.”
I wanted to find out for myself. I realized Reilly’s sentence was an understatement. I tried to find every Jim Murray column I could. It was an education and a joy – until I attempted to imitate him. I eventually learned that was a mistake. There are some lines in stories from college that I hope vanish from web searches. 
My admiration for Murray only grew. When I won the scholarship in 2007, the greatest privilege was to be associated with his name. More than a decade later, it remains a point of pride. I’m eager to read the work of the next group of students who will share that honor.
— Zach Berman

Baxter Holmes- ESPN.com

Baxter Holmes, who is based in Los Angeles, covers the Lakers and NBA for ESPN.com. Holmes garnered national acclaim for his award-winning ESPN The Magazine feature “The NBA’s Secret Addiction.” The piece won the prestigious James Beard Foundation Award For Excellence in the “Feature Reporting” category. The story was also included in “The Best American Food Writing of 2018” book.
Holmes previously served as ESPN.com’s Lakers beat reporter from 2014-2017. Prior to joining ESPN, Holmes covered the Celtics for The Boston Globe and was a sports reporter for the Los Angeles Times. He is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma.
A personal quote about Jim Murray: During my 3 1/2 years at The Los Angeles Times, I sat at cubicle facing Jim Murray’s trophy case, featuring letters congratulating him for his Pulitzer Prize from all the big names — and nearby was all his 14 NSSA’s Sportswriter of the Year awards. So to say his legacy loomed over me, a budding sportswriter, is putting it mildly, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. For anyone who aspires to be great in this business, reading Jim Murray is all the inspiration that you’ll ever need.
-Baxter Holmes

Lance Pugmire- Los Angeles Times

Lance Pugmire is the Los Angeles Times’ boxing/MMA/Ducks beat writer who also contributes enterprise Sports stories. He has provided Associated Press Sports Editors’ prize-winning coverage on doping and the death of Northwestern football player Rashidi Wheeler and was also first on the scene in The Times’ Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage in 2003 of wildfires in the Inland Empire and San Diego. Raised in El Cajon and Glendale, Ariz., he graduated from Cal State Fullerton.

Loved Jim Murray, and sitting next to him a few times at the Angels press box, soaking up his professionalism, demeanor and observations was an incredible thrill.
-Lance Pugmire

Scott Reid- Orange County Register

Scott Reid

Scott M. Reid is a sports enterprise/investigative reporter for the Orange County Register. He also covers Olympic and international sports as well as the Los Angeles’ bid to host the 2028 Olympic Games and the NFL’s relocation to Southern California. His work for the Register has led to investigations by the International Olympic Committee, the U.S. Department of Education, the California Legislature, the national governing bodies for gymnastics and swimming and has been cited during hearings in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Reid has won 13 Associated Press Sports Editors awards for investigative reporting since 1999. He was an Investigative Reporters and Editors award finalist in 2002 and 2003. Prior to joining the Register in 1996, Reid worked for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Dallas Times Herald. He has a B.A. in the History of the Americas from the University of Washington.

I became a sportswriter because I’ve always felt nothing reflected this complicated country like sports, that sports explains us and often drives conversations we need to have as a nation. What sticks with me about Murray more than his one liners is his willingness to take a stand, to confront power on behalf of others.
Like Ted Williams he pointed out segregation in Cooperstown. “Either let (Satchel Paige) in the front of the Hall—or move the damn thing to Mississippi.”
Would Augusta National have changed its discriminatory policies without Murray hammering the Masters in his column?
“It would be nice to have a black American at Augusta in something other than a coverall,” he wrote.
Murray once also wrote “You never argued with Jackie Robinson. He made America live up to its promises.”
In his own unique way, Jim Murray also did his best to make sure America kept up its end of the deal.
-Scott M. Reid