Rangers broadcaster Nadel wins Frick Award
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Eric Nadel, who has spent the past 35 years as the voice of the Texas Rangers, has been selected as the 2014 recipient of the Ford C. Frick Award, presented annually for excellence in broadcasting by the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
Nadel was chosen from among 10 iconic voices who vied for the ultimate distinction in their field this year.
"I'm so excited," Nadel said in a conference call after the announcement at the Winter Meetings on Wednesday morning. "I'm happy, tremendously flattered. It's an amazing thrill for a kid from Brooklyn, who grew up as a radio junkie. I'm still a radio junkie, I guess. When I think of the fact that six of the former winners I grew up listening to and idolizing, several others I consider to be friends -- and some of them are mentors, it's just mind-boggling to me that I'm now being placed in the same category as them."
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 other nine finalists were Joe Castiglione, Jacques Doucet, Ken Harrelson, Bill King, Duane Kuiper, Eduardo Ortega, Mike Shannon, Dewayne Staats and Pete van Wieren. Nadel will receive the award during the Hall of Fame's induction weekend on July 26-27 in Cooperstown, N.Y.
"I congratulate my friend Eric Nadel on winning the 2014 Ford C. Frick Award," said former President George W. Bush, who was once an owner of the Rangers. "For more than 30 years, Eric has brought the Texas Rangers and the great game of baseball to fans all over the Southwest. His passion for the sport is evident in every broadcast. Any announcer can call a game, but Eric brings his listeners into the stadium. He is a wonderful ambassador for our national pastime."
The ceremony at Doubleday Field on July 26 will include Roger Angell, Tuesday's winner of the J.G. Taylor Spink Award for a meritorious career of baseball writing, and Joe Garagiola Sr., the recipient of the 2014 Buck O'Neil Award.
"I am so pleased for Eric Nadel on his selection as the 2014 Ford C. Frick Award recipient," said Nolan Ryan, the Hall of Famer who once pitched for the Rangers and only recently left his post as the club's president. "Eric's description and analysis of thousands of Texas Rangers games over the last 35 years have been a joy for the fans. He has always made the games entertaining and informative. He is a Hall of Famer in every sense of the word and is very deserving of the honor."
The Hall of Fame induction ceremony for the Class of 2014 will be held behind the Clark Sports Center on July 27. Former managers Bobby Cox, Joe Torre and Tony La Russa were elected Monday by the Expansion Era Committee, and they will be joined by any players selected by eligible members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America, which is conducting its vote on the players' ballot this month. The results of that election will be announced in New York on Jan. 8.
This year's pool of Frick 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.
Nadel was chosen from a list of 10 finalists selected in October, featuring three fan selections from an online vote and seven broadcasters chosen by a research committee from the Cooperstown-based museum. Eight of the 10 finalists -- except for King and van Wieren -- are still active.
The final voting for the Frick Award was conducted by a 20-man electorate that includes the 16 living Frick Award recipients and a distinguished panel of four broadcast historians and columnists.
All but one of the finalists are still living. King, who died 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.
Born May 15, 1951, Nadel grew up in Brooklyn as a Dodgers fan and graduated from Brown University in 1972 to begin a sports broadcasting career. After calling pro hockey and basketball games for most of the 1970s, Nadel was hired by the Rangers in '79. He teamed with Mark Holtz on Rangers radio from 1982-94, then took over as the team's lead radio voice in '95. Nadel called Ryan's 5,000th career strikeout on Aug. 22, 1989, and has been the narrator for the Rangers' six playoff berths and two AL pennants since '96.
"To come from being a Minor League hockey announcer when I got this job and to arrive at this level of recognition, to be perfectly honest, I'm very, very proud," Nadel said. "I'm grateful beyond words to be able to have a chance to do this for a living and for being honored in this way."
Nadel learned Spanish upon the arrival of many Latin American stars on the Rangers in the 1980s and has called games in Spanish in Latin American countries during the MLB offseason. Nadel's signature home run call -- "That ball is history!" -- has become a part of the Rangers' lexicon.
Nadel is a member of the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame and the Texas Rangers Hall of Fame. But with the Frick Award now in his back pocket, he has reached the pinnacle.
"I tried not to put too much thought into it, but I wasn't too successful at that," Nadel said about the recent vote. "I started thinking seriously about it when I became a finalist again. I looked at the list of finalists and thought that it was a wide-open field. I felt that any of the 10 could certainly have won this year. I didn't feel that way the last three years when I was nominated. I felt strongly that someone should win [in] a landslide, and all three won those three years."
Finally, Nadel earned the nod this year.