Tuesday, Feb. 10, 12:07 p.m.: The Detroit News' managing editor responds today to Tom Gage’s tweet Monday about being taken off the baseball beat. Gage is unhappy and let it be known.
Gary Miles says:
“We don’t discuss our specific assignment changes, but over the last several years, we’ve had several beat changes in Sports and other departments, sometimes to adjust to changing resource levels and sometimes to freshen the perspective or approach to our coverage.
“Last year, before the beginning of the 2014 Tigers season, we talked to Tom about making a shift after the end of the season, and indeed that took place. Tom now covers a variety of topics in sports, where his contributions will touch many areas of interest to our readers.”
“He remains a valued member of The Detroit News sports staff.”
Original article, Monday afternoon:
Tom Gage, lead writer in The Detroit News's baseball lineup since the late 1970s, confirms Monday afternoon that he's pulled off the Tigers beat.
His sentiment about being reassigned is clear on Twitter:
thanks to all who've asked, but after 36 yrs, am no longer on #Tigers beat despite winning Spink Award - not my doing, will greatly miss it— Tom Gage (@Tom_Gage) February 9, 2015
Gage, 66, expects to stay in the sports department. "That's my understanding," he tells Deadline in a brief phone interview Monday night.
"I wish I could say more," he adds, "but I better just leave it with what's in my tweet."
Comment requests were emailed to editor-publisher Jonathan Wolman, as well as the paper's sports editor and managing editor.
Unofficial word of the beat shakeup surfaced Jan. 19 in a Detroit Sports Rag blog post by Jeff Moss, who calls the switch "unfathomable:"
Just days after it was announced that Gage would be entering the sportswriters’ wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame, the Detroit News announced that he was being demoted in favor of Chris . . . McCosky.
Can you imagine? One day you are going to Cooperstown and the next you are being replaced.
The annual honor mentioned in Gage's tweet was announced Dec. 9 by the Baseball Writers Association of America and will be presented during July's induction ceremony for National Baseball Hall of Fame players. The Spink Award is “for meritorious contributions to baseball writing.”
The association's announcement says:
Gage’s strength has been the freshness and flow of his writing, aiming to appeal to the hardcore fan’s family as well as the hardcore fan.
In its 29-paragraph report on Gage's selection, The News recounts his "three-decade-plus run as Tigers beat writer – a run that continues to this day." The next paragraph adds:
He's never taken a sick day, for which his readers — and bosses — are appreciative. . . .
"He's the ultimate professional," said Phil Laciura, sports editor of The News. "He always put 100 percent into everything he did. He's always been one of the most dependable people I've ever worked with."
Social media reactions Monday include this from past News staffer Michael J. Happy, now digital content manager at Fox Sports Detroit:
What the hell is The Detroit News thinking? This is like the Tigers willingly taking Miggy out of the everyday lineup.
A fan tweeting as @katieg1975 tells the writer: "I'm 39 years old. Have followed your reporting in the Detroit News since I learned to read a newspaper. You will be missed!"
Gage joined The News in 1976 after working at a New Orleans daily and moved into the Tigers beat three years later. He and his wife Lisa live in Grosse Pointe.
In five months, no matter what he's covering, Gage formally enters the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., as the first Detroit News honoree since the late Joe Falls in 2001.
Here's how Royal Oak reader Steve Evans responds to Gage's tweet:
@Tom_Gage Maybe you need to wear a rival newspaper on your Hall of Fame hat!— Steve Evans (@sevans1956) February 9, 2015