Cubs announcer Pat Hughes wins Frick Award

December 7th, 2022

SAN DIEGO -- Pat Hughes has learned how to react in the moment over his years in the radio booth as the voice of the Cubs. He has perfected the art of calm, collected calls filled with color that paint a picture for his audience.

On Wednesday morning, it was a phone call from Josh Rawitch, the president of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, that caught Hughes off guard. The long-time radio man was informed that he was the recipient of the 2023 Ford C. Frick Award, presented annually to a broadcaster for "major contributions to baseball."

"I could feel kind of a strange sensation in my head," Hughes said. "Like, 'Oh my gosh, I'm actually the guy. I'm going to be a Hall of Famer.' And I didn't really hear anything he had to say after, 'Congratulations, you're going into the Hall of Fame.'"

Hughes joins Jack Brickhouse (1983) and Harry Caray (1989) on the Cubs' list of Frick Award winners. Heading into his 28th season in the booth for Chicago, the 67-year-old Hughes will be honored during the Hall of Fame weekend ceremonies on July 21-24 in Cooperstown, N.Y.

In September, Hughes joined Brickhouse and Caray as inductees into the Cubs' Hall of Fame at Wrigley Field. He called it "intimidating" to now join the long list of famous and historic names on the impressive list of Ford C. Frick winners.

"We're talking about the greatest baseball announcers in the history of the game," Hughes said. "And to think that I'm just in any part of that mix is something that's very satisfying and gratifying and thrilling. And, again, it hasn't sunk in yet."

Prior to joining the Cubs' broadcast team in 1996, Hughes called games for the Brewers and Twins. He has called more than 6,000 Major League games over the course of a 40-year career, and became the first Cubs radio man to voice a World Series triumph when the ballclub ended its 108-year drought in 2016.

"Known throughout the Midwest for his easy delivery and unparalleled knowledge," Rawitch said in a release, "Pat Hughes has called some of the biggest moments in Cubs history and has provided the narrative for one of the most successful eras in the history of the franchise."

The Bay Area native cites fellow Frick Award winners Russ Hodges, Lon Simmons, Bill King and Vin Scully among his biggest influences early in his life and career. While at San Jose State, Hughes said he used to head to high school gyms or American Legion fields with a recorder to practice what he learned from listening to those voices.

Hughes smiled on a Zoom call Wednesday when recalling the first time he called a baseball game for San Jose State. He was set up at a card table roughly 70 feet behind home plate during a doubleheader, and mentioned a few times that a player had gone 0-for-7 on the day.

"On the bus ride back home, they said, 'You know, you didn't have to say 0-for-7 all that frequently,'" Hughes said. "And I guess I kind of learned a lesson. But, I was just reporting the game. And if you don't want 0-for-7, get a couple of base hits."

At that, Hughes let out a warm laugh.

Hughes' journey from that card table to Wrigley Field led him to calling the Cubs' dramatic Game 7 victory over Cleveland in the '16 World Series. Cubs manager David Ross, who homered in that historic game, was thrilled to hear Hughes took home the Frick Award.

"It's special to me," Ross said. "To hear those calls and hear his voice, that's how I identify those moments. You know, that's the voice I hear now, rather than the thoughts that I used to have in the box. Now, I've watched those from time to time and I hear his voice and his call and his excitement.

"He's been here for so long and seen so many ups and downs. The longevity of all that and going through the good and the bad, that's why he's just such a special person."

Hughes said winning the award had him thinking about his late parents and older brother, along with his former radio partner, Hall of Famer Ron Santo. Hughes was at the ceremony in Cooperstown in 2012 and expects he will reflect more about his old friend when he is back in New York next summer.

Until then, Hughes has more games to call for Cubs fans, who have counted on his calm voice and demeanor, and genuine reactions, for parts of three decades now.

"I realized early on," Hughes said, "when you're a big league announcer, it's a big responsibility, especially in a market like Chicago with the incredible fan base that the Cubs have. I don't take any game lightly."