Hall of Fame Is Cheapening Ford C. Frick Award

The Hall of Fame is no place for fan balloting. Anyone inducted into the Hall of Fame should have been put there by people who know the game and its people better than the average fan who is only interested in their own little part of the baseball world. That's why the Hall of Fame's idea to allow fans to vote for nominees that will be placed on the ballot for the Ford C. Frick Award is a bad idea.

In response to our recent report on Chris Wheeler being considered for the Ford C. Frick Award, one reader wrote:

It's beyond laughable to think people could possibly be considering that incompetent cheerleader (Wheeler) for anything beyond the position of janitor there. To any real baseball fan, especially the ones in Philadelphia who have been stuck listening to him for all these many years, it's preposterous and insulting to the broadcasters who are already there and deservedly so. I guess it shows that being a better politician than broadcaster is the main ingredient to consideration to the Hall. I'm wondering, is there any address or e-mail people can send to protest this ridiculous notion of Wheeler in the Hall?

Wow!

First, on the subject of Chris Wheeler. I don't think there is anyone who would put Wheeler in the class of Harry Kalas or other greats who have been awarded the Frick Award. While I don't think he is as bad as the above e-mail makes him out to be, I don't think he is deserving of the Ford C. Frick Award. I don't even think he deserves to be on the ballot. Maybe, down the road, his longevity in the game will merit some consideration, but right now, no.

Secondly, onto the main point of our discussion. In case you missed it, the Hall of Fame is allowing fans to vote for three broadcasters that they believe belong on the ballot for the Ford C. Frick Award. The plan is for the top three vote getters to join seven other nominees who will be decided on by the usual Hall of Fame committee. Those ten broadcasters will then be on the official ballot, which the fans will not have the right to vote on.

Here is a perfect example of an entity – in this case, the esteemed Hall of Fame – trying to be interactive. Trying to give the fans a voice. There are some things that fans need to be kept out of. It's one thing to have fans vote on the starters for the All-Star Game. That's basically just an ego thing for the players and some of them don't even want to be a part of the All-Star Game, anyway. At least as fans, there's at least a chance that we've seen some of these guys play either on television or in person. At the very least, there are statistics that can be used to support an argument. With broadcasters for local teams, it's unlikely that we've really ever heard much of the work that these folks have done.

This isn't the All-Star Game. This, is the Baseball Hall of Fame. This is the pinnacle. This is the immortal telling of baseball history. There is no room for favoritism or for keeping someone out simply because they're not part of "your team". The Hall of Fame needs to protect us from ourselves and not worry about being interactive. If they want interactivity, at the very least, give us an audio clip of calls from these folks on the ballot.

The Ford C. Frick nomination ballot has a lot of great former players on the list. Let it be known though that great former players don't necessarily make great broadcasters. And, the Ford C. Frick Award is not a way of getting a great player in the "back door" of the Hall of Fame.

First of all, there are 169 names on the list. There are not 169 people who are deserving of the chance to be the recipient of the Ford C. Frick Award. The history of baseball broadcasting is relatively short and we're supposed to be finding the true greats. The immortals. When I think of baseball broadcasters, I think of voices like Mel Allen and Harry Kalas. Names like John Lowenstein and Tommy Hutton don't come to mind.

I suppose if you want to vote for former Phillies, the nomination ballot is a good thing. We could try to get Richie Ashburn in both the player and broadcaster wings. (That wouldn't be the worst move that could be made, however, there probably are more deserving broadcasters than "his Whiteness".) We could vote for the aforementioned Hutton, who now works for the Florida Marlins. Maybe Ed Farmer, Mike Krukow, Jim Kaat or Bob Walk. Tim McCarver is on the list and you can at least argue for the fact that he made it to network level, although that in itself shouldn't qualify you for nomination. Former Phillies broadcaster Andy Musser is also on the list. He's an interesting name because he had longevity – 25 years – and was well respected around baseball ranks. It wouldn't be a completely bad idea for him to be on the ballot, but there are definitely more deserving broadcasters ahead of him.

There are a few deserving names to consider. Joe Nuxhall, Lanny Frattare, Ralph Kiner, Tony Kubek, Ted Leitner, Dave Niehaus and Dave Van Horne. Even Ralph Kiner could be considered.

Interactivity and involvement is great, but it needs to be thought out. The upside is that the final say won't be a fan vote. There will be plenty of deserving broadcasters on the final ballot and the likelihood of someone undeserving entering the broadcasters wing of the Hall of Fame is highly unlikely. This really is window dressing. In the end, the fans get a say, but they aren't going to be heard. Unless the fan base surprises me, they will be like the loveable "Cliffy" on Cheers. They will espouse their knowledge of baseball broadcasting only to be politely dismissed by the end of the conversation.

By the way, you can contact the Hall of Fame through their website at BaseballHallofFame.org, but it's one of those situations where you fill out a form with your question or comment and it's sent automatically to the folks at the Hall. You can't actually get their e-mail address to send them an e-mail directly.

So much for interactivity.

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