Put it this way: When their names finally are called for the Frick, they might have been called elsewhere first, if you know what I mean.
The Hall of Fame explained its new format on its site:
The 2014 Frick Award ballot reflects recent changes in the selection process where eligible candidates are grouped together by years of most significant contributions of their broadcasting careers. The new cycle begins with the High Tide Era, which features broadcasters whose main body of work came from the mid-1980s – the start of the regional cable network era – through the present.
The new three-year cycle for the Frick Award will continue in the fall of 2014 with the Living Room Era, which will feature candidates whose most significant years fell during the mid-1950s through the early 1980s. In the fall of 2015, candidates will be considered from the Broadcasting Dawn Era, which features candidates from the earliest days of broadcasting into the early 1950s.
The idea, says Brad Horn of the Hall, is to give recognition to some of the overlooked pioneers in the baseball booth. The winners are strongly tilted toward the modern era.
I have no problem with recognizing announcers like Graham McNamee, who called the first World Series games on radio in the 20s. However, here’s the problem.
For the current candidates, instead of being up for the Frick every year, now they’ll only have a chance to win the award once every three years, and only three times over nine years.
When I mentioned to White Sox announcer Ken “Hawk” Harrelson, 72, that some of the guys might not be around to accept the award under the new format, he cracked, “Yeah, and I’m one of them.”
With Eric Nadel of the Texas Rangers winning the award today, long-time Cardinals announcer Mike Shannon, 74, now will have to wait another three years for another shot at the Frick. The same holds true for former Atlanta Braves announcer Pete Van Wieren, who will be 72 in 2016.
The other living finalists are in their 60s, and time will continue to march on when they come up for consideration again.
The finalists on this year’s list all have worthy Frick credentials and more current announcers and analysts will merit consideration in future years. Yet only three of them will get tabbed in roughly a decade. It seems a bit unfair given the explosion of baseball TV and radio in the modern era.
Here’s a simple solution: Honor a current announcer and one from baseball’s past on an annual basis. It is roughly the same format the Hall uses for players with its veterans’ committee.
Hopefully, the Hall will reconsider its new format.