Jack Lang, a Hall of Fame baseball writer who for two decades had the pleasant assignment of telling players they’d been elected to Cooperstown, died Thursday. He was 85.
Lang had been ill for an extended period with a variety of ailments. He died at a rehabilitation center in Huntington, said his lawyer, Kevin Brosnahan.
As secretary-treasurer of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America from 1966-88, Lang was in charge of counting the Hall of Fame votes and held the job of telling players when they’d been elected. He called 44 in all, from Red Ruffing to Steve Carlton.
Lang often said his rule was simple: “Only call the winners.” To phone a candidate who fell short on election day would raise false hopes, he said.
Lang began his baseball career with the Long Island Daily Press in 1946, covering the Dodgers a year before Robinson broke the major league color barrier.
When the Dodgers left for Los Angeles after the 1957 season, Lang switched to covering the Yankees, and he moved over to the Mets starting with their expansion season in 1962.
The Press closed while Lang was at spring training in 1977. Within four hours, the News hired him to cover Seaver and the Mets.
Lang retired from the News at the end of 1989, then wrote a column for SportsTicker until 1997. He was a correspondent for Sporting News for more than 20 years.