Eric Nadel Wins Frick Award; Hall Changes Voting Procedure

Jim Cowsert/USA Today

Leave it to the Hall of Fame to take a voting process that more or less worked, and turn it into an unworkable mess.

Eric Nadel, broadcast voice of the Texas Rangers since 1979, has won the 2014 Frick Award and will be honored at the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown July 27.

This is all well and good, though I confess I'm not familiar with Nadel's work; if you live in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, you probably are.

What's troubling about the future of this award is that the Hall of Fame, in its infinite non-wisdom, has decided to change the voting procedure for this award, starting with this year:

The 2014 Frick Award ballot reflects recent changes in the selection process where eligible candidates are grouped together by years of most significant contributions of their broadcasting careers. The new cycle begins with the High Tide Era, which features broadcasters whose main body of work came from the mid-1980s – the start of the regional cable network era – through the present.

The new three-year cycle for the Frick Award will continue in the fall of 2014 with the Living Room Era, which will feature candidates whose most significant years fell during the mid-1950s through the early 1980s. In the fall of 2015, candidates will be considered from the Broadcasting Dawn Era, which features candidates from the earliest days of broadcasting into the early 1950s.

The "High Tide Era"? (What is that, something about laundry detergent?) The "Living Room Era"? Who comes up with these names, anyway?

Longtime Chicago sports media writer Ed Sherman sums up the problem with this idea:

For the current candidates, instead of being up for the Frick every year, now they’ll only have a chance to win the award once every three years, and only three times over nine years.

When I mentioned to White Sox announcer Ken "Hawk" Harrelson, 72, that some of the guys might not be around to accept the award under the new format, he cracked, "Yeah, and I’m one of them."

With Eric Nadel of the Texas Rangers winning the award today, long-time Cardinals announcer Mike Shannon, 74, now will have to wait another three years for another shot at the Frick. The same holds true for former Atlanta Braves announcer Pete Van Wieren, who will be 72 in 2016.

Maybe the Hall likes having inductees who were no longer alive, as they did last summer. The idea in and of itself isn't a bad one -- this way, announcers like Vince Lloyd, who ought to have had this honor before he died in 2003, could win the award -- but the execution is poor. Sherman has the right idea:

Here’s a simple solution: Honor a current announcer and one from baseball’s past on an annual basis. It is roughly the same format the Hall uses for players with its veterans’ committee.

Hopefully, the Hall will reconsider its new format.

That would solve the problem and have more worthy announcers receive this honor from the Hall of Fame. Soon, Pat Hughes, who has been a major-league play-by-play man for 32 years, will get consideration. I wouldn't want either of these men, Lloyd or Hughes, nor many other deserving broadcasters from other cities, to miss out because the Hall has spread out the voting over "eras". (And change those era names, too!)

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