"I'm overwhelmed," Madden said. "There can be no greater honor than to be given an award such as this by your own peers. That's to me the greatest honor of all. I've had 40 years in the business, and I never really thought of myself as a Hall of Famer, because I've been around so many great writers."
Madden, a New York Daily News columnist who worked for United Press International before joining the Daily News in 1978, became a Yankees beat writer at a time when Steinbrenner was at his dictatorial best.
Madden became a baseball columnist in 1989, following the Yankees throughout their World Series championship years of the mid-1990s, as well as their most recent triumph in 2009. He has written four books throughout his career, including a compilation of his work released in 2004.
Madden's latest book, "Steinbrenner: The Last Lion of Baseball," is due out in May.
Since 1962, when Spink became the first recipient of the award, the BBWAA's members have annually chosen and honored one of their peers for "meritorious baseball writing." The list of previous Spink award winners includes Peter Gammons in 2004, Jerome Holtzman in 1989, Damon Runyan in 1967 and Grantland Rice in 1966.
Madden, who garnered 226 votes from the 452 ballots cast, will receive his award at the annual Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Cooperstown in July. Toronto writer Bob Elliott finished second in this year's voting with 149 votes. All BBWAA members with at least 10 consecutive years of service are eligible to vote.
Madden, who counts previous Spink Award winners Milton Richman and Dick Young among his mentors, has covered 35 World Series and broken numerous stories, including the Mets' decision to leave Tom Seaver unprotected in the free-agent compensation pool in 1984.
Yet the highlight -- and most stressful -- portion of Madden's career was covering the Yankees during the height of Steinbrenner's reign.
"I covered the Yankees for eight years on the beat, but you really have to multiply that times seven to take in the Steinbrenner factor," Madden joked.
Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.