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The Frick Award And The Hall Of Fame

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What's that, you say?

That's the one the Hall of Fame gives to a broadcaster each year.

Today, Gene Elston was made the 2006 recipient of said award.

This is a bit before my time -- but some of you may remember Elston as a Cub radio announcer from 1954 through 1957. He is best known as the first lead radio voice of the Houston Astros, a job he held from 1962 through 1986.

Incidentally, Frick Award recipients are NOT members of the Hall of Fame. There is no "broadcaster's wing" nor "writer's wing"; this is a media myth. The broadcasters and writers do stand on the dais and give a speech on Induction Day, just as the players do.

Frankly, this is a silly distinction. The vast majority of fans believe there ARE media "wings". Why not just make de jure what is de facto already? Set up a separate room and give them plaques. It can be argued that many famous baseball writers and broadcasters have contributed just as much to the game of baseball as players who are inducted.

There is currently a great debate going on in some quarters over whether Buck O'Neil ought to be given induction this year by the committee considering (for the last time, incidentally) Negro Leaguers. It is true that O'Neil's Negro League playing career did not merit Hall induction.

But there is no doubt that his post-Negro League career contributed mightily to baseball. He was the first black coach in the major leagues (with the 1962 Cubs). He is the chairman and has fought hard to promote the Negro Leagues Museum in Kansas City, his hometown. And his contributions to Ken Burns' PBS Baseball series helped make that series as good as it was. He is a tireless ambassador for the game of baseball.

I've said this before, and it's paraphrasing Bill James so don't let it be said I'm stealing this -- people are not elected to a Hall of Statistics. It is a Hall of FAME. Thus, James once argued, and I would agree, one of the best qualifications for induction is that one should be famous. On this, O'Neil qualifies head and shoulders over many who had gaudy statistics.