Each winter, the Baseball Hall of Fame chooses a broadcaster to honor with the Ford C. Frick Award.
This year, eight men have been nominated and one of them is a former Cubs broadcaster. Most here will never have heard him call a game, as Pat Flanagan was a Cubs radio announcer on WBBM and WJJD from 1929-43, one of the very first men to call Cubs games on the radio.
The Hall’s Frick Award honorees are nominated in three classes, rotating every three years:
The Frick Award election cycle rotates annually among Current Major League Markets (team-specific announcers); National Voices (broadcasters whose contributions were realized on a national level); and Broadcasting Beginnings (early team voices and pioneers of baseball broadcasting). This cycle repeats every three years, with the Current Major League Markets ballot to be reviewed in the fall of 2019 and the National Voices ballot to be reviewed in the fall of 2020.
Criteria for selection is as follows: “Commitment to excellence, quality of broadcasting abilities, reverence within the game, popularity with fans, and recognition by peers.”
This year will honor someone from the “Broadcasting Beginnings” category. Here’s the Hall’s short bio of Flanagan:
15 seasons…One in a group of talented Chicago broadcasters that changed the way teams reached their fans over the radio…One of the first to recreate road games from a Western Union ticker…Primarily a Cubs fan, Flanagan was behind the microphone for both Chicago squads on WBBM…Covered the first All-star game from Comiskey Park in 1933…Also broadcast the 1932, 1934, and 1938 World Series for CBS…Passed away in 1963.
Cubs announcers who have previously been honored with the Frick Award are Jack Brickhouse (1983), Harry Caray (1989), Milo Hamilton (1992) and Gene Elston (2006). Hamilton and Elston both were better known for their time broadcasting Astros games.
The other Frick Award nominees for 2019 are Connie Desmond, Jack Graney, Harry Heilmann, Al Helfer, Waite Hoyt, Rosey Rowswell and Ty Tyson and you can read their bios at the link above. Heilmann and Hoyt are both already members of the Hall of Fame for their playing careers. The Frick Award winner is not officially a member of the Hall (and in my view, probably should be, as many of these men have contributed as much to the game as some players, managers and executives already enshrined), but they are commonly called “Hall of Fame broadcasters.”
And yes, I think it’s quite odd that Pat Flanagan had a publicity photo taken, obviously during his broadcasting career (note the microphone), wearing a 1933 Cubs uniform. Click here to see the full-length version of the photo.
If you’ve never heard Flanagan’s broadcasts — and I hadn’t — here’s one of him sharing the call of Game 2 of the 1938 World Series between the Cubs and Yankees with another Chicago broadcaster of that era, John Harrington.