.Our extensive coverage of the Elijah Dukes controversy and Dave Scheiber's story about the Kids & Kubs trip to Hawaii to play softball against a group of Japanese World War II veterans were recognized as the best in the nation last week by the Associated Press Sports Editors.
Sports writer Eduardo A. Encina and news reporter Abbie Vansickle broke the story of Dukes and his threats against his wife and children, touching off weeks of coverage that included extensive research into Dukes' criminal past, reports on his divorce and custody battles, profiles of the people in his life and reaction within the Rays dugout and front office. Eventually, Dukes was removed from the team, and later traded to the Washington Nationals.
Along with Encina and Vansickle, sports writer Marc Topkin and news reporters Carrie Weimar, Rebecca Catalanello, Kevin Graham, S.I. Rosenbaum and Graham Brink were recognized for their contributions to the entry, which won first place in the investigative reporting category for all newspapers in 2007.
Scheiber's story chronicled the trip by the Kids & Kubs, a team of softball players age 75 and older, to Oahu, Hawaii, to play against a team of Japanese players. The game, played within miles of Pearl Harbor, featured 11 players from the United States and 10 from Japan who were World War II veterans. The trip included a tour of military cemeteries for both U.S. and Japanese soldiers and sailors, and to the USS Arizona Memorial.
It was voted by a group of APSE judges as the best feature story among writers from newspapers with circulations larger than 250,000.
The Times also placed fifth in the breaking news category for the large papers category, with Topkin and news reporter Aaron Sharockman recognized for breaking the story about the Tampa Bay Rays' plans to build a new waterfront baseball stadium.
This marked the first time the Times won two first-place honors in individual writing in the same year, and the first time the paper has had three finishes in the top five.
Jack Sheppard, Times sports editor