Paul Ladewski is an American sports columnist at the San Francisco Examiner and former sports editor, sportswriter and columnist for The Daily Southtown in south and southwest Chicago and its adjoining suburbs. He is a veteran of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) and a voter for the Baseball Hall of Fame. He is a recipient of the Peter Lisagor and Illinois Sports Columnist of the Year awards, and his work was cited in A Century of Chicago's Best Sportswriting (University of Chicago Press), which was published in August, 2013. He is a graduate of St. Laurence High School (Burbank, Ill.) and Northern Illinois University.
2007 Hall of Fame voting controversy
Ladewski is among the most outspoken critics of the steroids era. He touched off a national debate in January, 2007, when he became the first known Baseball Writers Association of America member to turn in a blank Hall of Fame ballot in wake of the steroids controversy. The disclosure was made by a Baltimore Sun sportswriter who had polled BBWAA members in an attempt to determine whether former Orioles shortstop Cal Ripken Jr. would be a unanimous selection. San Diego Padres outfielder Tony Gwynn also was on the ballot. Including his blank ballot, eight writers did not vote for Ripken, and 13 did not vote for Gwynn.
"Unlike so many others, I consider myself fortunate to be in a position to remain an independent thinker," Ladewski said. "Because I am not employed by a company that has a lucrative contract with a professional sports league, I have no restrictions. I have no hidden agendas. My only regret is that some believe I made my vote known to attract attention. That simply isn't the case. In fact, when the Baltimore Sun writer informed me that I was the only person who hadn't voted for Ripken among those he had polled at that point, I was beyond surprised. Surely, others wouldn't be inclined to take a premature leap of faith, I thought. Nobody can say for certain who cheated other than the cheaters themselves. That's the fundamental problem that confronts Hall of Fame voters."
"To say the least, I'm disappointed how quickly some of my peers have forgotten the widespread effects of the greatest scandal in modern baseball history. We need to demand more answers about the subject and pay less attention to the Boston Red Sox third-string catcher. Until then, there remains too many questions and too little accountability in an era that tarnished the game forever."
After his vote became public, Ladewski and the Daily Southtown received more than 1,200 emails and phone messages in the next week, many from upset Gywnn and Ripken fans.
"It's interesting to note that, years later, an increased number of Hall of Fame voters have excluded some if not all candidates in the steroids era," Ladewski said. "If I did anything to raise awareness on the issue, then I consider what I did to be worth it. Despite the criticism, I would do it over again."
During a Jan. 9, 2007 interview on ESPN Radio's Mike and Mike in the Morning, Ladewski also said that he is not inclined to vote for any player on his first year of eligibility. He stated that, to maintain the standard that was set by his peers decades ago, no player should be inducted unanimously because not even those in the first class consisting of Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Christy Mathewson and Walter Johnson were voted in unanimously. ESPN.com contributor Jim Caple questioned his stance, saying "Sorry, but the slap in the face came from the narrow-minded writers who refused to vote for [Willie] Mays and Hank Aaron in the first place."
Chicago Bulls, NBA career
Ladewski is the only regular Bulls beat writer to have covered Michael Jordan's entire 13-year career in Chicago. His career has spanned more than 2,500 games, the vast majority of which were written on deadline. He was known for his uncompromising style and ability to break stories on a regular basis. "Nobody wrote better game stories than Paul over the years," said Rick Gano, longtime Associated Press sports editor. "They were lively, entertaining and informative -- everything that a writer strives for but can't always deliver under deadline pressure."
Ladewski's aggressive, independent style didn't sit well with Bulls general manager Jerry Krause, in particular, and the two clashed throughout their careers as a result. The bad blood spilled over midway through the 2002-03 season, when before a game at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Krause targeted him in a lengthy, expletive-filled monologue outside the visitors' locker room. Two months later, Krause was forced to resign in the midst of another disappointing season. Ladewski called Krause "the most paranoid man in modern sports history" and the 10th most important person in the Bulls dynasty behind "(Michael) Jordan, Jordan, Jordan, Jordan, Jordan, Jordan, Jordan, Phil Jackson and Scottie Pippen in that order."
- ESPN SportsCentury
- Memories of Mike ISBN 1-887432-67-1
- Super Guards (NBA Reader) ISBN 0-439-91239-3
- NBA Encyclopedia ISBN 0-439-91239-3
- Ladewski, Paul (2007-01-08). "'Dew' tell: Ripken, Gwynn votes won't be unanimous". The Daily Southtown. Retrieved 2009-10-31.
- Caple, Jim (2007-01-10). "Double standard on McGwire". ESPN.com. Retrieved 2009-10-31.