Legendary Cleveland Indians player turned broadcaster Jack Graney (St. Thomas, Ont.) has been named one of eight finalists for the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s 2019 Ford C. Frick Award.
The list of finalists, which represent broadcasters from the Hall’s Broadcasting Beginnings category, was unveiled on Monday.
The seven other finalists for the broadcasting excellence award are Connie Desmond, Pat Flanagan, Harry Heilmann, Al Helfer, Waite Hoyt, Rosey Rowswell and Ty Tyson. All of the candidates are deceased.
The winner will be announced on Dec. 12 at baseball’s Winter Meetings in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., and will be honoured during the July 20 Awards Presentation as part of Hall of Fame Weekend in Cooperstown.
Graney’s road to the big leagues began in St. Thomas, Ont., where he was discovered and recommended to the Chicago Cubs by fellow Canadian Baseball Hall of Famer, Bob Emslie. After a season in the Cubs organization, Graney was sold to the Cleveland Indians, where he would evolve into a steady, dependable outfielder.
His big league resume boasts a number of firsts. When Graney walked to the plate in a game against the Boston Red Sox on July 11, 1914, he became the first batter to face Babe Ruth. Almost two years later, on June 26, 1916, he would be the first major leaguer to bat wearing a number on his uniform. A scrappy leadoff hitter, Graney led the American League in walks twice (1917 and 1919) and in doubles once (1916). The speedy Canuck also finished in the top 10 in triples in 1913 and 1916, with 12 and 14 three-baggers respectively. He was also a member of the World Series-winning Indians squad in 1920.
After his playing career, Graney became the first ex-player to make the transition to the broadcast booth, performing radio play-by-play for the Indians from 1932 to 1953.
For his efforts, he was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 1984 and the Canadian ball shrine now presents an annual award named in his honour to a media member who has made a significant contribution to the game of baseball in Canada through their life’s work.
The Frick Award election cycle rotates annually among Current Major League Markets (team-specific announcers); National Voices (broadcasters whose contributions were realized on a national level); and Broadcasting Beginnings (early team voices and pioneers of baseball broadcasting). This cycle repeats every three years.
Final voting will be done by an electorate comprised of the 11 living Frick Award recipients and four broadcast historians/columnists, including past Frick honorees Marty Brennaman, Bob Costas, Jaime Jarrin, Tony Kubek, Denny Matthews, Tim McCarver, Jon Miller, Eric Nadel, Vin Scully, Bob Uecker and Dave Van Horne, and historians/columnists David J. Halberstam (historian), Barry Horn (Dallas Morning News), Ted Patterson (historian) and Curt Smith (historian).
The 2019 Frick Award ballot was created by a subcommittee that included Matthews, McCarver, Miller, Nadel and Smith.
To be considered, an active or retired broadcaster must have a minimum of 10 years of continuous major league broadcast service.
For information on the other candidates (other than Graney), you can follow this link.