Abe Chanin, a longtime Arizona Daily Star sports editor, UA professor, author and historian, was the first recipient of the ABCA/Wilson Lefty Gomez Award in 1962.
Chanin was a powerhouse reporter and editor at the Arizona Daily Star from 1940 until 1976. In 1947, he helped found the Arizona Daily Star Sportsmen's Fund, one of the oldest charities in Southern Arizona.
Chanin's chronicling of University of Arizona athletics was unparalleled at the time. As the Star's sports editor, he covered Pop McKale and Ernie McCray, eight football coaches, three basketball coaches, one "Cactus Comet" and two Fred Enkes.
His 1979 book, "They Fought Like Wildcats," remains of the most complete and authoritative annals of UA sports. Chanin also ran Collegiate Baseball newspaper, which he — along with his wife, Mildred — published until 1970. The couple also co-published The Arizona Jewish Post from 1956 to 1965.
Chanin was most proud of his role as a teacher, whether it was as a newspaper editor or college professor. Chanin taught at the Arizona from 1976 until 1988, when he was named director of the Bloom Southwest Jewish Archives. He stayed there until 1994.
While stationed in France during World War II, Chanin and his fellow soldiers put on a Christmas party for youngsters. Chanin returned to Tucson after the war but remembered the looks on the children's faces. While at the Star, Chanin teamed with ad manager Ricki Rarick and the Tucson YMCA to deliver a similar experience locally.
The Sportsmen's Fund was born. Over the years, the charity exposed underprivileged kids to the outdoors and sponsored many big-time sporting events. Celebrities ranging from Bing Crosby and Randolph Scott to Olga Korbut and the Harlem Globetrotters all visited Tucson because of Chanin's work.
Abe Chanin, a graduate of Tucson High School and the UA, is a member of the Pima County Sports Hall of Fame and Daily Wildcat Hall of Fame. The UA's award for best student sportswriting bears his name.
Named after the great Lefty Gomez, this annual award is presented to an individual who has distinguished himself among his peers and has contributed significantly to the game of baseball locally, nationally and internationally. The Lefty Gomez Award is sponsored by Wilson Sporting Goods.