Balloting for the 2009 Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasting excellence begins Monday with the top three vote-getters by the fans automatically qualifying for the 10-member ballot that will be formulated by a 20-member committee and announced Oct. 6. The winner will be announced Dec. 9 at the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas and will receive the award during the induction ceremony July 26, 2009, at the Clark Sports Center in Cooperstown, N.Y.
Fans may vote for up to three of their favorites among 210 broadcasters eligible in balloting conducted exclusively on the Hall's Web site, baseballhalloffame.org, which will carry biographical sketches of each candidate. Fans can vote up to once a day throughout September. Results will be announced when voting concludes Sept. 30. There will be no updates provided during the voting period.
Dave Niehaus, the longtime voice of the Seattle Mariners, was the recipient at the 2008 induction in July, which marked the 30th anniversary of the award that was first presented to legendary figures Mel Allen and Red Barber. The award was named for the late broadcaster, National League President, Commissioner and Hall of Famer. Frick was a driving force behind the creation of the Hall of Fame and helped foster the relationship between radio and the game of baseball.
The three broadcasters named to the ballot last year through online voting were the Cincinnati Reds' Joe Nuxhall, the Oakland Athletics' Bill King and Hall of Fame second baseman Joe Morgan of "Sunday Night Baseball." The other nominees selected by the 20-member committee were former "Game of the Week" broadcasters Dizzy Dean and Tony Kubek; play-by-play voices Tom Cheek (Toronto Blue Jays), Ken Coleman (Cleveland Indians, Chicago White Sox, Boston Red Sox), Dave Van Horne (Montreal Expos, Florida Marlins) and broadcasting legend Graham McNamee (NBC), who called 12 World Series beginning in 1923.
Santo, who doesn't hide his feelings for his beloved Cubs, is in his 19th season as color commentator for WGN Radio. The former Cubs third baseman, who played for the team from 1960-73, is not only a booster of the team, but also the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Santo has lost both of his legs because of complications with diabetes, but that hasn't slowed him down. He often sounds as if he'd like to jump out of the broadcast booth and back in uniform.
His annual Ron Santo "Walk for the Cure" walk-a-thon has raised more than $63 million since its inception in 1979.
Hughes has been Santo's play-by-play partner the past 13 seasons. He has been in the baseball broadcast booth for 25 years, including an extended stint with the Milwaukee Brewers from 1984-95. Hughes was named the Illinois Sportscaster of the Year in 1996 and '99, and earned Wisconsin Sportscaster of the Year Award honors three times (1990-92).
Hughes also is producer of "Baseball Voices: Hall of Fame Series," which are compact discs that commemorate and pay tribute to announcers of the past. He has done CDs on Harry Caray, Jack Buck and Marty Brennaman.
Other active Ford Frick candidates with ties to the Cubs include Steve Stone, who is currently on the White Sox radio broadcast team. He worked 20 seasons as a Cubs television broadcaster (1983-2000, 2003-04), spending 15 years in the booth alongside Harry Caray before being paired with Chip Caray for the 1998-2000 seasons.
Winner of the 1980 American League Cy Young Award, Stone pitched in the Majors from 1971-81 for the Giants, White Sox, Cubs and Orioles.
Harry Caray and Jack Brickhouse are past Frick Award winners. Besides Santo, Hughes and Stone, here is a list of some Cubs-related broadcasters who will be considered:
Lou Boudreau: Boudreau was a broadcaster for 33 years, all with the Cubs (1958-90). A Hall of Fame shortstop, Boudreau slipped comfortably into the booth in 1958 and remained there until '90. He first joined the Cubs on WGN as a color sidekick for Jack Quinlan in 1958. Boudreau left broadcasting briefly in 1960 for a stint as the Cubs' manager. He worked with Harry Caray, who called Lou his "cup of tea."
Pat Flanagan: Flanagan is one of a talented group of Chicago broadcasters who changed the way teams reached their fans over the radio. He covered the White Sox and the Cubs from 1929-43. Flanagan was one of the first to recreate road games from a Western Union ticket. He covered the first All-Star Game at Comiskey Park in 1933.
Vince Lloyd: Lloyd was a broadcaster for 32 years (1955-86), all in Chicago, with the White Sox (1955-64) and Cubs (1965-86). He began calling White Sox games on television with Brickhouse in 1955. Lloyd took over as the Cubs' lead play-by-play radio man in 1965, following the death of Jack Quinlan. After his career behind the microphone, he served as co-general manager of The Tribune Co. radio syndication, helping to expand the Cubs' affiliate network. He was the first announcer to interview an American president at a baseball game, John F. Kennedy, on Opening Day, April 10, 1961, in Washington.
Hector Molina: Molina covered the Cubs for two seasons, from 1987-88. He also was the play-by-play announcer for the Chicago White Sox from 1992-99, and the NBA's Chicago Bulls.
Jack Quinlan: Quinlan was a broadcaster for 10 years (1955-64), all with the Cubs. His career ended tragically when he was killed in an automobile accident during Spring Training 1965. The voice of the Cubs teamed with Boudreau from 1958-64. He was the crosstown protege of popular White Sox broadcaster Bob Elston.
Hal Totten: Totten was a baseball broadcaster for 21 years (1924-50) and was the voice of baseball in Chicago with the Cubs (1924-44) and White Sox (1926-44). He helped solidify baseball on radio. He became the first regular-season radio announcer on April 23, 1924, calling the play-by-play of the Cubs' 12-1 win over the Cardinals on Chicago's WMAQ radio.
Bert Wilson: Wilson was a baseball broadcaster for 12 years with the Cubs (1944-55). He invented the catchphrase, "Bingo to Bango to Bilko," to describe double plays turned among Ernie Banks, Gene Baker and Steve Bilko. He was renowned for the phrase, "I don't care who wins, as long it is the Cubs." He began his broadcast career with WMT in Chicago, calling Cubs games from a rooftop behind the center-field bleachers.
Others with Cubs connections who are candidates include Chip Caray, who did Cubs play-by-play from 1998-2004, and Andy Masur, who was the pregame and postgame host for Cubs radio broadcasts from 1999-2006.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.