Max Joseph Nichols
Max Nichols was a sportswriter.
As a youngster, he won an essay contest whose prize was to serve as batboy for visiting teams against the Oklahoma City Indians. He got to meet Jackie Robinson, Satchel Paige and others during his stint, confirming his vocation to become a sportswriter. He received a B.A. in journalism from the University of Oklahoma in 1956, then a masters from Columbia University the following year. He began working for the Associated Press, covering a variety of sports, before being drafted into the Army, serving in Germany for two years.
After he left the service in 1959, he began working for the Minneapolis Star, becoming the beat writer for the Minnesota Twins when they relocated from Washington, DC in 1961. He was also the local correspondent for The Sporting News, raising his national profile, as did his writing for Sport magazine. After covering the Twins appearance in the 1965 World Series, he moved to assistant city editor at the Minneapolis Star in September of 1967.
He became infamous that year when he was the only writer not to vote for Carl Yastrzemski to win the 1967 American League Most Valuable Player Award; his vote went to Cesar Tovar instead. The vote was supposed to be anonymous, but as his choice had sparked outrage, he was soon outed. He defended his decision, explaining that he felt Tovar's tremendous versatility made him more valuable to his team than the Triple Crown winner. Some fellow writers rallied to support him (before it had been known he had been the rogue voter, there was talk that the vote had been cast by an unqualified hack who should be banned by the BBWAA), but generally, his decision was thoroughly panned. He continued working in journalism for many years, but never covered baseball after that incident, although it had little to do with his decision to pursue a different avenue of work. He concentrated in municipal matters for the next decade.
In 1980, he moved back to Oklahoma to work as editor of the Oklahoma City Journal Record, a newspaper specializing in business and legal news. He became an officer in the Oklahoma Historical Society and received a number of awards for his work. He was inducted in both the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame and the Oklahoma Historians Hall of Fame.
- Steve West: "Max Nichols", in Gregory H. Wolf, ed.: A Pennant for the Twin Cities: the 1965 Minnesota Twins, SABR, Phoenix, AZ, 2015, pp. 355-358. ISBN 978-1-943816-09-5