With all the hoopla present in the Veteran’s Committee and BBWAA votes for the Hall of Fame, we tend to forget that the Hall of Fame is also in charge of three other awards: The J G Taylor Spink Award for writers, the Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasters, and the Buck O’Neil Lifetime Achievement Award for humanitarian contributions to the game. The winners of those three awards have been announced for this year.
The Spink Award was given to Roger Angell. Angell is a writer whose baseball prose is among my favorites. He is the first non-member of the BBWAA to win this award. His most famous work is probably “The Summer Game” written in 1972 (at least it’s my favorite). He was featured on Ken Burns’ “Baseball” series on PBS when it aired.
The Frick Award went to Eric Nadel, broadcaster for the Texas Rangers. Nadel has been Rangers broadcaster for years. Around here you get to listen to him a lot. He’s actually pretty good. Not least among his attributes is his ability to surmount a color guy who is a dope. He’s had some of those (and also some very excellent color guys too).
The O’Neil goes to Joe Garagiola. The O’Neil Award is the newest of the three. It’s given out at three-year intervals to persons who have enhanced “baseball’s positive image on society, who broadens the games appeal, and whose integrity and dignity are comparable to the namesake of the award” (quoted directly from the Wikipedia page about the award). Garagiola is the third to receive the award.
All three awards are officially given to the winner at the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies in Cooperstown and the winner gives a speech. This has led to the winners being referred to as “Hall of Famers.” This is incorrect, as none of the award winners are actually elected to the Hall. The Spink and Frick awards have plaques in the Hall library where the winner’s names are inscribed. Near the entrance to the Hall is a statue of O’Neil, the names of the winners are added to the base of the statue.
I like these awards being given out. The writers and broadcasters have added so much to the game that it’s fair they be remembered. As for the humanitarian award, it’s worthwhile to see an award named for Buck O’Neil, one of the grand men of the game. If I get to listen to the ceremony, I always look forward to the award winners speeches. They are generally more polished than the honorees and filled with anecdotes that are poignant and funny.
Quick Garagiola story (that I hope he tells in his speech). He came to the Majors with the Cards and later became a broadcaster. As a broadcaster, he asked to see his scouting report. They showed it to him. Under the heading Speed was the word “deceptive”. Then in parenthesis the phrase “slower than he looks.” See why I look forward to those speeches?