SAN DIEGO — Retired Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan likens himself to the undefeated 1972 Miami Dolphins.
He prides himself on being the last sportswriter to have an on-deadline newspaper column included in the annual anthology of best American sportswriting. In fact, each year when he looks at the latest compendium and confirms there are no deadline stories, he opens a bottle of champagne, just as the surviving members of the ’72 Dolphins do when it’s assured their perfect record will not be matched for another year.
Ryan prides himself on being a newspaper guy, and following a long and distinguished career, he has joined another group of very select company. On Friday, he received the Red Smith Award from the Associated Press Sports Editors.
“Everything, and everybody, has a story. True greatness comes from those who can tell the story, and that is Bob Ryan,” said Basketball Hall of Famer Bill Walton, who introduced Ryan as he received the award Friday at the Associated Press Sports Editors conference.
The Red Smith Award is presented to an individual who has made a significant contribution to sports journalism.
“I stand here as a relic, a dinosaur, a child of newspapers, and I’m really proud to be that last guy standing,” Ryan said. “Long live newspapers.”
Ryan has covered 21 NBA Finals, 29 Final Fours, and 11 Olympics (six Summer, five Winter); 11 World Series and innumerable baseball playoff series; 11 Super Bowls, five BCS championship games, eight US Open championships, six British Opens, four Ryder Cups, three Masters, two PGAs, the World Basketball Championships in Toronto, Athens, Indianapolis, and Tokyo, and numerous major college football bowl games. He was the only person to cover the one-and-only Dream Team from the first bounce of the ball in La Jolla to the medal ceremony in Barcelona.
Past recipients of the Red Smith Award include Frank Deford, Dick Schaap, Jim Murray, and Bud Collins.
Follow Matt Pepin on Twitter at @mattpep15. Joe Sullivan of the Globe staff contributed to this report.