ARLINGTON -- Rangers broadcaster Eric Nadel lost the crown on one of his teeth during the most recent road trip to the West Coast. On a Wednesday morning, with first pitch against the Athletics scheduled for 12:35 p.m. PT, Nadel was in a dentist's chair getting fitted for a new crown.
When the game started, Nadel was back behind the microphone, doing what he has loved doing for the past 35 years, and doing it as well as anybody in the business. At this point, it is difficult to imagine a Rangers baseball game without Nadel's voice filling the air waves, as he has done since 1979.
"I love baseball," Nadel said. "The game intrigues me and excited me. I have wanted to be a play-by-play announcer since I was 7 years old. To be able to do this for a living is still a lot of fun. The people I deal with every day are wonderful, and I consider myself very lucky to have a job I love going to.
"I am here to serve the fans, and [I] get excited every day about getting the chance to do that. I always felt the Mets and Yankees announcers were my friends when I was growing up listening to them, and it's a pleasure to make our fans feel that way about me."
A seven-time recipient of the Texas Sportscaster of the Year Award, Nadel is one of the most honored broadcasters in the business. There is one last honor awaiting him. Fan voting is underway again by the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum for the Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasting excellence, and Nadel remains one of the leading candidates, having been one of the finalists in each of the past three seasons.
Fans can vote for Nadel at the Hall of Fame's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/baseballhall.
"Eric's description and analysis of thousands of Texas Rangers games over more than three decades have been a joy for our fans," Rangers CEO Nolan Ryan said. "In seasons good, mediocre and bad, he has always made the games entertaining for this franchise's loyal fan base. Eric quickly earned my respect for his passion, knowledge and understanding of the game when I joined the Rangers as a player in 1989.
"It was after my retirement in 1993, when I had the opportunity to listen to Rangers games, that I really began to understand how well he was able to communicate those qualities on the radio."
The Frick Award has been presented by the Hall of Fame since 1978, and the winner will be included in the Hall of Fame Weekend ceremonies next summer in Cooperstown, N.Y. The winner will be announced in December at the Winter Meetings.
The procedures have changed this year. No longer will all eligible candidates be considered on an annual basis. Instead, they have been divided into three categories that will rotate annually. This year it will be the "High Tide" candidates, those broadcasters whose contributions have come during the regional cable network era, beginning with the mid-1980s through today.
Nadel, who began doing Rangers games in 1979, is one of 165 candidates being considered. In 2015, it will be the "Living Room" candidates, those broadcasters whose careers fell roughly between the 1950s and the '80s. The "Broadcasting Dawn" era will be in 2016.
The three eras are a reminder of how much broadcasting baseball has changed over the decades.
"The information base has changed dramatically," Nadel said. "Serious fans have access to most of the same information I do. The challenge for me is to continue to come up with things that are interesting for the fans to listen to. Whether it is bits of information or observations regarding what I am seeing, I want to make them want to keep listening, even if a particular game isn't a good one."
Fan voting will determine three of the 10 finalists. A Hall of Fame research committee will determine the seven other finalists. The winner will be selected by a committee that includes 16 past living recipients of the Frick Award, plus four other broadcasting historians.
"It is a privilege just to be doing this for a living … broadcasting Major League Baseball," Nadel said. "To be considered one of the best as what I do is like icing on the cake. There are so many great announcers who haven't made the final ballot. … My experience the last three years of being a finalist has made me appreciate how great a job so many people in baseball do, even those who don't get nominated."
Current and former Rangers broadcasters Tom Grieve, Eleno Ornelas, Steve Busby, Mark Holtz, Norm Hitzges and Josh Lewin are also on the ballot. But Nadel is now in his 35th year of broadcasting Rangers games, the second-longest tenure of any broadcaster with one team in the Major Leagues.
"Spending 35 years in this job means I have spent well over half of my life as a member of the Rangers family," Nadel said. "The cast of characters has changed in the booth, on the field and in the front office, but the fans are still there. Getting the chance to develop a long-term relationship with them has been tremendously rewarding. To have people tell me that they grew up listening to me, or they listened to me with their parents or grandparents, is incredibly gratifying."
Three years ago, Nadel's greatest moment as a broadcaster occurred when Neftali Feliz struck out Alex Rodriguez to end Game 6 of the American League Championship Series.
"The Rangers are going to the World Series!" has become the most iconic broadcasting moment in the franchise's history.
"The most emotional moment of my life was when Feliz struck out A-Rod in 2010 and the Rangers clinched their first pennant," Nadel said. "I was moved to tears and had to lay back for about 45 seconds before talking again. I will never forget that moment. The joy that exploded in the Ballpark that night was unparalleled in my experience. Getting to say, 'The Rangers are going to the World Series,' was even more satisfying than I ever envisioned it would be."
Now, it should be time for someone else to say, "Eric Nadel is going to the Hall of Fame."