Results tagged ‘ Ford C. Frick Award ’

Splitt’s perfect delivery never wavered

By Trevor Hayes

Sports are a distraction and escapism from the world. But they can teach us, too. Athletes show us what it means to do out best and serve as role models for ideals like character, courage, perseverance and dedication.

Wednesday morning when I got to work, a co-worker informed me that Paul Splittorff had passed away. I wasn’t shocked, but I am still deeply saddened. Nine days ago, the Royals announced that the longtime broadcaster and club leader in victories had oral cancer and melanoma.

There’s no way I can write something better or more comprehensive about the passing of Splittorff than what the fine folks at the Kansas City Star and with the Royals have already produced.

What I can say is that it was a pleasure to have Splitt in my life and relate what he meant to me. I worked for the Royals in 2007 and 2008 and got the chance to meet the “Ole Lefthander” a few times. Unfortunately, in 2008 when I worked in the press box, he was taking a hiatus from broadcasting after an illness robbed him of his voice. During the 2008 Big 12 basketball season, Splitt – who called it all from Royals baseball to college basketball and high school football – was forced to take a break from broadcasting due to a virus that also caused him to lose weight.

Ever determined – a trait that he exhibited from day one in the Royals organization – he worked his way back to the booth and was doing analysis on Opening Day in 2009. His speech slurred and voice shaky, he left the team during the middle of an early season road trip. It was too much, too soon. Ultimately, he never fully returned to his year-round second career, but he was always working to get there.

Last season he worked mostly on pre- and post-game shows, which I unfortunately couldn’t see living out of the K.C. market. Even up to the announcement of his battle with cancer on May 16, Splitt was still working – almost 27 years after moving seamlessly from the field to the booth.

He retired in July 1984 – I was born in November of that year – to make room for the Royals young staff to grow despite earning a spot on the team with a club high 13 wins the season before. He was a workhorse. A career .537 win percentage and 166 victories with a 3.81 ERA and 88 complete games – his numbers aren’t flashy. In 1990 he didn’t receive a vote from the BBWAA for Hall of Fame election – but he is a Kansas City legend: a 1987 Inductee to the Royals Hall of Fame, the team’s first 20-game winner and its leader in victories since 1975.

The closest I ever came to seeing him pitch is from video highlights and that ESPN miniseries “The Bronx is Burning” from a years back. A generation older friends and family can tell me all about his dominance on the mound and the numerous memorable matchups with the hated Yankees in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

I joined the Splittorff bandwagon in 1993 when my family moved to Kansas City – nine years after his 14-season playing career came to a close. K.C.’s Ford C. Frick Award winner, Denny Mathews, never broadcast on TV much and as a typical kid growing up in the 1990s, I watched more TV than was good for me – which included hours of Royals baseball. So maybe more so than Denny, Splitt’s voice and a combination of Dave Armstrong, Bob Davis and Fred White formed the soundtrack to my childhood summers.

People always say they feel like their favorite team’s broadcasters are like family because they feel like they spend so much time with them. Splitt was drafted in 1968 before the team ever played a game, transitioned to broadcasting immediately after his retirement in 1984 and was still on Royals TV broadcasts this season. Kansas City – myself included –spent a lot of time with Splitt.

So to the three Paul Splittorffs I know – the one with the high-leg kick, coke-bottle lenses and pinpoint accuracy from old highlights; the one whose voice is the background to several nights spent playing or doing homework in front of the TV; and the one who I was humbled to meet as I started my professional career – I will always remember you. And more importantly, I will never forget the lessons you taught me with your steady delivery, on and off the field.

Trevor Hayes is the editorial production manager at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Hall Monitor: Hot Winter Meetings

Hayes_90.jpgBy Trevor Hayes

The temperatures in Orlando weren’t that warm, but plenty of big splashes and a flurry of other news made for a week of sizzling Hot Stove action. With Spring Training approaching, many names have changed places, giving them opportunity to put a new mark of the narration of the game.


12-10-10-Hayes_Gillick.jpgWerth Announcing
: On Monday, Pat Gillick was announced as the first new Inductee for the Hall of Fame Class of 2011, which only seems fitting coming a day after the announcement of Jayson Werth signing with Washington. The two are connected because Gillick brought Werth to Philadelphia after the struggling outfielder was cut by the Dodgers in December of 2006. That signing was one of a number of moves by Gillick and the Phillies that led to their 2008 World Title – the third of Gillick’s career.

Not Gonzo in San Diego: The first major splash once the Winter Meetings began was the Red Sox’s signing of Adrian Gonzalez, who will join a storied tradition of hitters in Boston, including fellow San Diego native Ted Williams. But Gonzalez will leave behind an unfinished assault on most of the Padres offensive records.

Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn is the hit king in Southern Cali, besting Gonzalez by 2,285 base knocks. But over his five seasons in San Diego, Gonzalez had been steadily building his case as the most powerful Padre. He leaves San Diego two home runs shy of the team’s all-time record of 163 by Nate Colbert. He currently ranks fifth on the doubles list, three two-baggers behind another Hall of Famer, Dave Winfield. And with an average season in 2011, he would have passed Phil Nevin for third on the Padres RBI list, behind only Gwynn and Winfield.


12-10-10-Hayes_ApplingFox.jpgTwo Grand in Pale Hose
: Frank Thomas missed by 41 games, but with his new deal Paul Konerko should be able to reach 2,000 games played for the White Sox. Wednesday, Konerko signed on for three more years in the Southside and sits just 232 games away from the mark. To this point, only Hall of Famers Luke Appling (2,422 games) and Nellie Fox (2,115 games) have topped the two-grand threshold for the Sox – one of the eight original AL clubs.

Burning up the base paths: It would appear that the Red Sox newest outfielder might have his sights set on his new team’s stolen base record. Carl Crawford, who signed with Boston Thursday, has stolen 409 bases during his nine years, with only nine of those coming in his first season in the Majors. The Red Sox record is 300, held by Harry Hooper who played in Boston from 1909 to 1920. The second and third place slots are filled by a pair of Hall of Famers in Tris Speaker (267 steals from 1907-15) and Carl Yastrzemski (168 steals from 1961-83).

Aside from his talents on the bases, Crawford’s power-speed combination will be unique to the Sox. Last year he compiled at least 100 runs, 30 doubles, 10 triples and 15 home runs. Nomar Garciaparra reached those numbers in 1997 and 2003. To find another Boston player to achieve that combination, you have to go back 70 years to 1940 when a 21-year-old Ted Williams did it.


12-10-10-Hayes_Smith.jpgAnother Week, Another Cooperstown-worthy show
: This week, 2010 Hall of Fame Inductee Whitey Herzog sits down on Inside Studio 42 with Bob Costas. Herzog and Costas will talk about the Cardinals teams of the 1980s, Whiteyball and the state of the game today. Also stopping by will be fellow Cardinal Hall of Famer, the Wizard of Oz, Ozzie Smith. The show airs at 8 p.m. ET on MLB Network.

Last respects: Possibly the most beloved broadcaster in the Northwest, Ford C. Frick Award winner Dave Niehaus will be honored Saturday with a ceremony at Safeco Field. Gates open at 12 p.m. PT and the ceremony will be carried live on six different outlets in the Pacific Northwest region. Niehaus’ son and daughter will be on hand for the ceremony, which will also feature video tribute from fellow Frick Award winners Vin Scully, Jon Miller, Joe Garagiola and Marty Brennaman.

Trevor Hayes is the editorial production manager at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

A voice for baseball

Carr_90.jpgBy Samantha Carr

Dave Van Horne was broadcasting basketball and football in Virginia when he met Frank Soden, who told him about an opening in baseball broadcasting for the Richmond Braves of the International League.

“When I heard about an opening in baseball, I jumped on it,” said Van Horne.

12-08-10-Carr_VanHorne.jpgVan Horne got the job and served as a broadcaster for Richmond from 1966-68, which marked the beginning of a very special career in baseball. He was named Wednesday as the 35th winner of the Baseball Hall of Fame’s Ford C. Frick Award for excellence in broadcasting and will be honored over Hall of Fame Weekend, July 22-25 in Cooperstown.

“This is the highest award a baseball broadcaster can receive,” he said. “I am obviously thrilled, humbled and very excited. It is the professional highlight of my career.”

While in Richmond, Van Horne broadcast Braves home games live, but worked on wire recreation for road games.

“It was a great learning process to broadcast games I was not attending or looking at,” said Van Horne.

Van Horne was introduced to John McHale, then president of the Atlanta Braves, who offered him a chance to go to Montreal and work for the Expos after McHale took over the National League’s newest expansion team.

“I knew about two weeks into the job at Richmond that baseball broadcasting was what I wanted to do if I could make a living at it,” said Van Horne. “Now I am entering my 43rd year.”

Van Horne has called games for the Expos and Marlins during his long career and been the voice of moments like Willie Mays’ 3,000th hit and Steve Carlton striking out his 4,000th batter.

Van Horne will join Pat Gillick, who was elected to the Hall of Fame on Monday by the Expansion Era Committee; Bill Conlin, winner of the 2011 J.G. Taylor Spink Award; and any electees from the BBWAA election announced Jan. 5 at 2011 Hall of Fame Weekend.

“I am humbled to be among those people that are previous winners of this award,” said Van Horne. “This was a very overwhelming and emotional day.”

Samantha Carr is the manager of web and digital media for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Hall Monitor: Award Season Begins

Hayes_90.jpgBy Trevor Hayes

Awards, prizes, honors. No matter what you call them, they serve as validation for a year of hard work on the diamond.

First up were the Gold Glove Awards on Tuesday and Wednesday and the Silver Sluggers yesterday.


11-12-10-Hayes_70sReds.jpgRolen along
: Reds third baseman Scott Rolen won his eighth Gold Glove on Wednesday. Now only two third basemen have won the award more than Cincy’s man at the hot corner, Hall of Famers Brooks Robinson (16) and Mike Schmidt (10).

Meanwhile the New Red Machine, which reached the playoffs for the first time since 1995, placed two other Reds among this season’s Gold Glove winners. Second baseman Brandon Phillips earned his second award and pitcher Bronson Arroyo won his first. The last time Cincinnati had more than one Gold Glove was over four straight years when the quartet of center fielder Cesar Geronimo, shortstop Dave Concepcion and future Hall of Famers Johnny Bench (catcher) and Joe Morgan (second baseman) won the awards from 1974 to 1977.


11-12-10-Hayes_ClementeMays.jpgJoining the greats
: Ichiro Suzuki has played 10 years in the majors and his numbers seem automatic: 10 All-Star selections, 10 200-hit seasons, 10 seasons with 30-plus stolen bases, 10 seasons with an average over .300 and now 10 Gold Gloves. Among outfielders, only two men have more Gold Gloves and just three others have received 10 trophies from Rawlings. Matching Ichiro at 10 apiece are Andruw Jones, Ken Griffey Jr., and Hall of Famer Al Kaline. But Ichiro is still looking up at Hall of Famers Willie Mays and Roberto Clemente, who each earned the award 12 times.

Carl among select in left: Also on Tuesday, the Rays’ Carl Crawford won his first Gold Glove – and he did it as a left fielder. Over the last three decades in the American League, center fielders have dominated the Gold Glove Awards, with right fielders earning sporadic recognition (aside from Ichiro Suzuki’s 10 straight). Since 1958, when the Award was separated by league, nine men have earned 18 Gold Gloves as a left fielder – seven of which went to Carl Yastrazemski. Over the last 30 years, just four men have taken home the honor. The last before Crawford was Darin Erstad in 2000. Before him were Hall of Famers Dave Winfield (two straight in 1982 and 1983) and Rickey Henderson (1981).


11-12-10-Hayes_Niehaus.jpg“Fly away”
: 2008 Ford C. Frick Award winner Dave Niehaus passed away Wednesday night at the age of 75. For fans in the Seattle area, there will be an open house at Safeco Field from noon to 3 p.m. PT Saturday for fans to gather and reflect upon the Voice of the Seattle Mariners. There will be no formal program, but fans are invited to sign a remembrance book for the Niehaus family. There is also an online tribute page for available at www.mariners.com/dave, where fans can post messages and see highlights of his career.

No. 5 on Studio 42: Bob Costas’ MLB Network show Studio 42, which revisits baseball great moments through interviews with key players and Hall of Famers alike, premieres tonight. The first episode will feature George Brett, who will join Costas in an hour-long conversation starting at 8 p.m. ET to talk about his career. Topics will include Brett’s chase for .400, the pine tar incident, the Royals 1985 Championship along with their rivalry with the Yankees and more. Included during the program will be thoughts on Brett from fellow Hall of Famer and longtime nemesis on the diamond, Goose Gossage – the bulldog relief pitcher who faced Brett during several memorable battles.

Trevor Hayes is the editorial production manager at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Hall Monitor: World Series Special

Hayes_90.jpgBy Trevor Hayes

The World Series is upon us. The whole season comes down to this, and like the previous 105, this one is already living up to the name Fall Classic.


10-29-10-Hayes_DrysdaleKoufax.jpgTexas Three-Step?
: Just two of the previous seven teams to dig a hole like Texas’ current deficit – losing the first two games, each by at least four runs – have come back to win the World Series. The last team to create such a predicament was the 2001 Yankees, who forced a seventh game but ultimately lost to the Diamondbacks. The pair to overcome similarly lopsided losses: Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale’s 1965 Dodgers, who rallied against the Twins, and the 1996 Yankees, who defeated the Braves.

Record line: In three career postseason starts, San Francisco’s Matt Cain has given up just one run – an unearned blemish in the sixth inning of the NLDS against the Braves. Cain has compiled a 2-0 record after blanking the Rangers in Game Two. Few other players have begun their postseason careers with three straight games in which they didn’t allow an earnie. Giants legends and Hall of Famer Christy Mathewson began his postseason career with what may be the most impressive performance ever: Three straight complete game shutouts in the 1905 World Series – going on three days rest and then two days for the final two. Hall of Famer Waite Hoyt allowed two unearned runs in three starts for the 1921 Yankees- going 2-1 in his first foray into postseason play. And Jon Matlack allowed three unearned while going 2-1 in his first three games before eventually ending with a 2-2 record during the Mets’ postseason run in 1973 – his only career postseason.

10-29-10-Hayes_Mathewson.jpgCain’s 21.1 innings without an earned run to start his postseason career is the sixth longest mark. He sits behind Hoyt (34 innings), Mathewson (28 innings), Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon  (26.1 innings), Matlack  (25 innings) and another Giant Hall of Famer, Carl Hubbell  (22 innings).

End of the run: Cliff Lee went 4.2 innings and gave up seven runs in Game One on Wednesday. His numbers are so astounding because he was on an unbelievable run. Before Wednesday’s aberration, his career 1.26 postseason ERA ranked third among pitchers with at least five starts. Just Sandy Koufax and Christy Mathewson held an edge over Lee’s dominance. As it is now, he still holds a 1.96 ERA and a 7-1 record in nine starts during his playoff career.

Big hits: Nine times in World Series history, a Giant has collected four hits in a game. After his 4-for-5 night in game one, Freddy Sanchez became the latest. The previously four before him is a good group to be in: Hall of Famers Ross Youngs (1923), Fred Lindstrom (1924), Mel Ott (1933) and Monte Irvin (1951).

Pivotal Pitching: The Phils “Feared the Beard” during the NLCS, as Brian Wilson recorded a win or a save in each of the Giants victories. With three saves and a win, he’s just the fourth pitcher since saves became an official stat in 1969 to wreak that kind of havoc on an opponent. Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley, with four saves and an MVP Award 1988 ALCS leads the group, followed by Mitch Williams (two wins and two saves in the 1993 NLCS) and John Wetteland (four saves and an MVP Award in the 1996 World Series).

10-29-10-Hayes_Ryan.jpgCheckup up on the stars: Milwaukee Brewers broadcaster and 2003 Ford C. Frick Award winner Bob Uecker was released from the hospital after undergoing successful heart surgery last Tuesday. The broadcaster received a valve replacement earlier this season before surgery to repair a tear at the replacement site earlier this month.

Throughout the postseason, several Hall of Famers have tossed several ceremonial first pitches. Game One of the World Series was no different with Orlando Cepeda, Monte Irvin, Juan Marichal, Willie McCovey and Gaylord Perry tossing the first ball. In Texas, Saturday’s game will likewise feature a living legend as Rangers President Nolan Ryan reprises the role after he and Fergie Jenkins took the honors in Game One and Two of the ALCS, respectively.

For a good cause: Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield was honored before Thursday’s game with the Roberto Clemente Award. Beating out nominees from the other 29 clubs in his eighth year of being nominated, Wakefield is honored for combining dedication to giving back to the community with outstanding skills on the baseball field.

Wakefield was honored by Commissioner Bud Selig, widow Clemente’s Vera Clemente and his sons Roberto Jr. and Luis. Of the 27 eligible former winners of the Award, 13 are Hall of Famers.

Trevor Hayes is the editorial production manager at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Halls of Fenway

Idelson_90.jpgBy Jeff Idelson

I spent last night in Fenway Park enjoying the final game of a three-game series between the Red Sox and their rival, the New York Yankees. There’s no bigger rivalry in baseball and it ranks among the all-time greats in professional sports.

There were four Hall of Famers in the house: Joe Morgan, in town to broadcast on ESPN with 2010 Ford C. Frick Award winner Jon Miller; Jim Rice, a fixture at Fenway as a pre and post-game analyst for the Red Sox’ cable rightsholder, NESN; Pudge Fisk, in town to spend a few days in the Red Sox Legends Suite, entertaining clients for the Red Sox, and Orlando Cepeda.

 
 
05-10-10-Idelson-Fenway.jpgOrlando, or Cha-Cha as he’s known in baseball circles, was in town for an event with EMC2, a worldwide leader in digital data storage. Orlando flew cross country from the Bay Area and made his first visit to the Fenway since 1987, 14 years after making history as the first designated hitter in Red Sox history in 1973.

Since he was already at the ballpark, Cha-Cha was asked to participate in a pre-game ceremony on Mother’s Day Sunday. He was to don a Red Sox jersey – with his number, 25, on the back, and a dark blue Red Sox cap — and escort a cancer-surviving mom to the mound and deliver the first pitch baseball to her so she could throw it out prior to the game.

Before the event, Orlando, Pudge, Red Sox manager Terry Francona, Hall of Fame PR Chief Brad Horn and I sat in the dugout for a few minutes and exchanged some banter.

“Orlando! What are you doing here? Can you still hit?” Francona asked the 1999 Hall of Fame inductee who hit 20 home runs in 1973 for Boston.  “I don’t think so, my knee is not too good,” Cepeda said smiling. “How about you Pudge? Can you catch a few innings?” Fisk just rolled his eyes and chuckled.

Red Sox catcher Victor Martinez came out of the tunnel, and Francona introduced his starting catcher to the two legends. Martinez’ eyes lit up. 

Next was Kevin Youkilis. “What size bat did you use, Orlando?” asked Youk. When told that he swung a Louisville Slugger B83 model, weighing 40-ounces, the Red Sox infielder raised his eyebrows in disbelief, then turned to Francona and said: “Can you imagine swinging something that big against the fireballer (Nefti Feliz) from Texas?”

Francona wanted to know who the fastest pitcher was that Cepeda faced. Without thinking twice, Cha-Cha stated, “Nolan Ryan, but there were so many others.  Bob Veale.  So many.”

 “How about Marichal?” asked Francona.  “He threw around 92,” Cepeda replied.

Fisk swung Youkilis’s Mother’s Day pink bat and marveled at the feel of it.

Cepeda walked down the dugout to meet Dustin Pedroia, who grew up near his home in Fairfield, Calif. They talked about living in the Bay Area.  Then David Oritz came into the dugout and the two power hitters exchanged hugs. 

“I loved to watch your dad, Tito, hit,” Cepeda told Francona.

Francona smiled and told Orlando: “He loved watching you hit too. You and Rico Carty were the two guys who really could hit the ball hard.”  “And Yaz,” said Cepeda.  “He swung harder than anyone I know.”

As the pregame ceremony started, Orlando left the dugout for the field. I wondered if the 15 minutes of levity helped the Red Sox at all as the team salvaged the final game of the Series with New York.

Jeff Idelson is president of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

2010 Ford C. Frick Award winner to be announced in February

Muder_90.jpgBy Craig Muder

As Spring Training approaches, the sounds of baseball are making their return to Florida and Arizona.

But fans will really know the 2010 season is at hand when their favorite broadcasters return to the airwaves with the debut of the exhibition season.

01-21-10-Muder_AllenBarber.jpgFor many, the National Pastime is incomplete without the voices and descriptions of the men and women on radio and television. And during the first week of February, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum will honor the best of the best with the announcement of the winner of the 2010 Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasters.

The 10 finalists for the 2010 Frick Award will be considered by the Frick Award Committee, which consists of the 15 living Frick Award winners and five historians. The Committee consists of past honorees Marty Brennaman, Jerry Coleman, Gene Elston, Joe Garagiola, Ernie Harwell, Jaime Jarrin, Milo Hamilton, Tony Kubek, Denny Matthews, Dave Niehaus, Felo Ramirez, Vin Scully, Lon Simmons, Bob Uecker and Bob Wolff – and historians/columnists Bob Costas, Barry Horn, Stan Isaacs, Ted Patterson and Curt Smith.

The 10 finalists for the 2010 Frick Award are: Billy Berroa, Skip Caray, Tom Cheek, Jacques Doucet, Lanny Frattare, Graham McNamee, Jon Miller, Joe Nuxhall, Herb Score and Dave Van Horne. Bios of each of the 10 finalists are being posted daily at www.baseballhall.org.

The 2010 Ford C. Frick Award winner will be honored at Hall of Fame Induction Weekend July 23-26 in Cooperstown.

Craig Muder is director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 58 other followers