After 122 years in St. Louis, Sporting News magazine is heading south.
The publication once known as the “Bible of Baseball” for its devotion to box scores and statistics is moving to Charlotte, N.C., home to its parent company, American City Business Journals. Last summer, online operations for SportingNews.com, previously housed in both New York and St. Louis, were consolidated in Charlotte.
The move was announced Friday by Ray Shaw, chairman of American Cities. Several calls and e-mails to Sporting News and American City officials were not returned on Monday.
The loss isn’t a major one economically for St. Louis ? Sporting News employs just a few dozen people who work out of an office building in suburban Chesterfield.
But the loss of the respected publication long a part of the St. Louis journalism community is certainly a blow to the psyche of the region.
Sporting News was founded by Alfred H. Spink as an eight-page broadsheet in 1886. Spink was a former newspaper writer and a director of the St. Louis Browns.
Sporting News quickly emerged as a favorite for hard-core baseball fans, who turned to the publication for box scores, game summaries, even minor league coverage.
Regular coverage of pro football didn’t begin until 1942. Basketball and hockey were added that winter.
Sporting News switched to a tabloid format in 1943, originally as part of the effort to conserve paper during World War II. It didn’t print a color picture until 1967, a shot of baseball’s Frank Robinson.
In recent years, competition has increased significantly with the arrival of ESPN Magazine and Internet pages and blogs devoted to sports. Sporting News long ago dropped box scores that are now readily available on the Web.
In 1997, then-owner Times Mirror Co. spent millions to update Sporting News to an all-color magazine. More dramatically, the makeover shifted focus to the NFL, though the magazine continued to cover baseball, hockey, basketball, college football and, eventually, NASCAR.
Times Mirror sold Sporting News to Vulcan Inc., a holding company owned by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, in 2000. In 2006, American Cities purchased the publication for an undisclosed sum.
American Cities, which has not said when the move will take place, is a unit of Advance Publications Inc. It owns more than 40 weekly business newspapers, including the St. Louis Business Journal.