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Hall of Fame announces Frick Award finalists

Ten iconic voices are vying for the ultimate prize of distinction in their field.

The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum on Wednesday announced the 10 finalists for the Ford C. Frick Award, which is given to baseball broadcasters of long and meritorious service.

A broadcaster cannot be considered for the Frick Award unless he's called big league games for at least 10 years, and nine of the 10 finalists have worked for two decades in the same market. Last year's winner, the late Tom Cheek, called 27 consecutive seasons for the Blue Jays.

The 10 finalists are: Joe Castiglione, Jacques Doucet, Ken Harrelson, Bill King, Duane Kuiper, Eric Nadel, Eduardo Ortega, Mike Shannon, Dewayne Staats and Pete van Wieren. The winner will be announced at the Winter Meetings and then be feted as part of the Hall of Fame's induction weekend.

This year's pool of candidates featured 160 qualified broadcasters from the "High Tide" era, which consists of men who called games from the mid-1980s to the present day. The finalists were culled from online balloting at the Hall of Fame's Facebook site during the month of September.

More than 20,000 votes were cast, and three men -- Doucet, King and Kuiper -- separated themselves from the pack in balloting. The other seven finalists were chosen by a Hall of Fame research committee. Eight of the 10 finalists -- except for King and van Wieren -- are still active.

The final voting for the Frick Award will be conducted by a 20-man electorate that includes the 16 living Frick Award recipients and a distinguished panel of five broadcast historians and columnists.

All but one of the finalists are still living. King, who passed away in 2005, called 25 consecutive seasons (1981-2005) as the lead play-by-play voice on the radio for Oakland A's games.

And in this group, that kind of dedication is the norm. The 74-year-old Shannon, who played nine years for St. Louis, has called Cardinals games on the radio for 42 years. Castiglione has called big league games for 33 years, the past 30 as the lead radio voice in Boston.

Van Wieren, an Atlanta institution, began calling Braves games in 1976 and didn't leave the team's airwaves until 2008. Nadel has spent the past 35 seasons with the Rangers, the longest tenure in franchise history, and he's spent the last 21 as the club's lead play-by-play voice.

Kuiper, meanwhile, has called games for 28 seasons, and all but one of them has been spent covering the Giants. Harrelson, known for his passionate advocacy of the White Sox, has spent 27 years in Chicago and previously did broadcast work for the Red Sox and Yankees.

Staats has called big league games for 36 years, and he's spent 16 years in the Tampa Bay market, and Ortega has handled Spanish-language MLB broadcasts for 27 seasons. Doucet has even outlasted his team, serving 34 years calling Expos games and returning to the booth last year in Toronto.

All these men, giants in their field, will be vying for an honor named after one of the legends of the game. Ford C. Frick, a Hall-of-Fame executive, worked as a sportswriter and broadcaster before later impacting the game as MLB Commissioner and president of the National League.