Fan Balloting for Ford C. Frick Award to Start Nov. 1

by Jack O'Connell,

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- Baseball fans whose appreciation of the game has been enhanced by the sounds emanating from broadcast booths have the opportunity to reward their favorite announcers by placing them in consideration for being honored by the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Balloting for the Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasting excellence begins at 12:01 a.m. Thursday November 1, with the top three vote-getters by the fans automatically qualifying for the 10-member ballot that will be formulated by a 20-member committee and announced Dec. 4. The winner will be announced Feb. 19, 2008 and receive the award during the Induction Ceremony July 27 at the Clark Sports Center in Cooperstown, N.Y.

Fans may vote for up to three of their favorites in balloting conducted on Fans can vote up to once a day throughout the month of November.

Denny Matthews, who has broadcast Royals games since they entered the American League as an expansion franchise in 1969, was this year's recipient of the award that has been presented annually since 1978 when the honor was first bestowed on legendary voices Mel Allen and Red Barber, whose southern drawls found room in the hearts of ball fans not only in New York City but across the nation.

Matthews was the first Kansas City broadcaster honored and was added to a list of the game's finest voices, who also often serve as the eyes and ears of baseball's ardent followers. Fans now have a say in the process over the next month about how the ballot will appear.

The three broadcasters on last year's ballot that were voted on by the fans were Bill King, Ken "Hawk" Harrelson and Joe Nuxhall. King broadcast Oakland Athletics games for a quarter of a century. Harrelson, a former outfielder, is a 31-year announcing veteran who has been with the Chicago White Sox for 22 of those seasons, including the past 18. Nuxhall retired in 2004 after 38 years in the Reds' booth following 15 years as a pitcher in Cincinnati.

The other nominees were former players Dizzy Dean and Tony Kubek, radio legend Graham McNamee and play-by-play voices Tom Cheeks (Toronto Blue Jays), Franz Laux (St. Louis Browns) and Dave Niehaus (Seattle Mariners).

Dean, who died in 1974, is already in the Hall of Fame as a player, having been elected by the Baseball Writers' Association of America in 1953. There are quite a few other Hall of Fame players that are also candidates for the Frick Award, including Diz's old partner, Pee Wee Reese.

The large group features Richie Ashburn, Lou Boudreau, Don Drysdale, Harry Heilman, Waite Hoyt, Al Kaline, George Kell, Harmon Killebrew, Ralph Kiner, Joe Morgan, Jim Palmer, Phil Rizzuto, Brooks Robinson, Tom Seaver, Duke Snider and Don Sutton.

A minimum of 10 years of continuous Major League service with a club, network or combination of the two is required to appear on the ballot for the Frick Award, which singles out broadcasters "for major contributions to baseball."

The award was named after the former baseball commissioner and National League president who had been a broadcaster, sportswriter and public relations director for the NL. Frick was a driving force behind the creation of the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, and he helped foster the relationship between radio and the game of baseball.

Among the candidates are off-spring of previous Frick Award winners, such as Harry Caray's son Skip and grandson Chip, Marty Brenneman's son Thom and Jack Buck's son Joe. Former pitcher Bert Blyleven, who is still a candidate as a player on the BBWAA ballot, is under Frick Award consideration as a broadcaster for the Minnesota Twins. Others range from former players Jim Kaat, Ron Fairly, Steve Blass, George Frazier, Tommy Hutton, Mike Shannon, Ron Santo, Bobby Murcer, Rick Monday, Ken Singleton and Jerry Remy to play-by-play men John Gordon, George Grande, Chris Wheeler, John Rooney, Juan Alicea, Eric Nadel, John Sterling, Joe Castiglione and Lanny Frattare to network personalities Tim McCarver, Dick Enberg, Jon Miller, Gary Thorne and Buck Martinez.

The 20-member electorate is comprised of 14 Frick Award recipients and six broadcast historians and columnists: Frick honorees Marty Brennaman, Jerry Coleman, Joe Gargaiola, Ernie Harwell, Jaime Jarrin, Milo Hamilton, Harry Kalas, Felo Ramirez, Vin Scully, Lon Simmons, Bob Uecker, Bob Wolff and Matthews, plus Bob Costas (NBC), Barry Horn (Dallas Morning News), Stan Isaacs (formerly of New York Newsday), Ted Patterson (historian), Curt Smith (historian) and Larry Stewart (Los Angeles Times).

Each award winner, not to be confused with an inductee, is presented with a calligraphy of the award during the Induction Ceremony and is recognized in the "Scribes & Mikemen" exhibit with J.G. Taylor Spink Award winners for baseball writing between the Hall of Fame gallery and the Bart Giamatti Library of the museum.