Bill Plaschke, a staple of The Times Sports section since joining the paper in 1987, has taken first place in the Associated Press Sports Editors annual contest for column writing among papers with circulations of more than 175,000.
Plaschke, a columnist since 1996, has now won the prestigious national columnist award five times and has been a frequent top-10 finisher in multiple writing categories. The contest honors the best work in sports journalism both in print and on the web. The final column-writing results were announced Tuesday.
Plaschke's entry consisted of five columns from 2013:
--The story of Ira Hawkins, an usher for the Dodgers first at the Coliseum and then at Dodger Stadium for 55 years, until his death at 91.
--The story of Wendell Smith, an African American sportswriter who chronicled Jackie Robinson's first year in the major leagues and endured many of the same hardships.
--An examination of the questions about linebacker Ray Lewis' controversial past as he prepared for the Super Bowl.
--A celebration of college athletics at its purest level in a story on an athlete at Caltech who had experienced two very rare moments at the school: victories in baseball and basketball.
On Monday, two Times entries were also honored, in the breaking news category:
Gary Klein won third place for his coverage of Lane Kiffin's firing as USC football coach. And Mike Bresnahan, David Wharton and Plaschke earned fourth place with their report on the death of Lakers owner Jerry Buss.
Final results for additional writing categories will be released later this week.