Helfer, 'Mr. Radio Baseball,' Frick Award winner

Called games for 8 teams, plus 'Mutual Game of the Day' in 1950s

December 12th, 2018

The late Al Helfer, whose longtime broadcasting work earned him the nickname "Mr. Radio Baseball," was named the winner of the 2019 Ford C. Frick Award on Wednesday by the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Helfer, who died in 1975, will be honored posthumously during Hall of Fame induction weekend in July. He's the 43rd winner of the Frick Award, which is presented annually for excellence in baseball broadcasting.

This year's Frick Award candidates were on the "Broadcasting Beginnings" ballot, featuring those "whose main contributions were realized as broadcasting pioneers." The other finalists were Connie Desmond, Pat Flanagan, Jack Graney, Harry Heilmann, Waite Hoyt, Rosey Rowswell and Ty Tyson.

"Al Helfer helped grow interest in baseball exponentially as the voice of Mutual Game of the Day radio broadcasts during the sport's golden days of the 1950s," Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson said. "Working in the dominant broadcasting medium with television in its infancy, Helfer was known as 'Mr. Radio Baseball,' bringing game action into living rooms across the country every week. A true fan of the game, Helfer's work with eight teams over four decades connected listeners in their markets to their team's heroes, as baseball spread its reach throughout America and around the world. His passion and delivery made him one of the iconic voices of his era."

During his career in radio, which began in the 1930s and lasted through the 1960s, Helfer called games for the Pirates, Reds, Yankees, Dodgers, Giants, Phillies, Colt .45s and A's. He was the play-by-play announcer for five straight World Series from 1951-55 and for numerous All-Star Games, and he called 14 no-hitters, including Catfish Hunter's perfect game in 1968.

Helfer was chosen as the 2019 honoree by the Hall of Fame's 15-member Frick Award Committee, which consisted of previous Frick Award winners Marty Brennaman, Bob Costas, Jaime Jarrin, Tony Kubek, Tim McCarver, Denny Matthews, Jon Miller, Eric Nadel, Vin Scully, Bob Uecker and Dave Van Horne; historians David J. Halberstam, Ted Patterson and Curt Smith; and columnist Barry Horn.