Doucet, Howarth named Ford C. Frick Award finalists

Jacques Doucet (left) and Jerry Howarth (right) have been named 2023 Ford C. Frick Award finalists. Photos: Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame

October 6, 2022

By Kevin Glew

Cooperstowners in Canada

Canadian broadcasting legends Jacques Doucet and Jerry Howarth are among the 10 finalists for the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s 2023 Ford C. Frick Award.

The Hall unveiled its list of finalists on Wednesday.

The award is presented annually for excellence in baseball broadcasting.

Doucet, who was the French voice on Montreal Expos broadcasts from 1972 to 2004, officially announced his retirement in September due to health issues.

Born in Montreal in 1940, Doucet served as an Expos beat reporter for La Presse from the time the franchise was awarded to the city in 1968 to 1971. He began performing play-by-play for the Expos’ French language radio broadcasts in 1972 and continued for 33 seasons. For many years, Doucet also broadcast major league playoff and World Series games in French.

In a Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame Zoom call earlier this year, he counted the 1982 All-Star Game in Montreal and the two perfect games he called – Expos ace Dennis Martinez‘s masterpiece against the Los Angeles Dodgers on July 28, 1991 and New York Yankees right-hander David Cone‘s flawless performance against the Expos on July 18, 1999 – as career highlights.

After the Expos left for Washington following the 2004 season, Doucet continued his broadcast career in his home province, calling games for the independent Can-Am League’s Quebec Capitales from 2006 to 2011. Starting in 2011, he called Toronto Blue Jays games in French for TVA Sports.

In total, Doucet has broadcast more than 5,500 big league games during his storied career. For his efforts, he was inducted into the Quebec Baseball Hall of Fame in 2002 and the Montreal Expos Hall of Fame in 2003. The following year, he won the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame’s Jack Graney Award, which is handed out annually by the Hall to a member of the media who has made significant contributions to baseball in Canada through their life’s work.

In 2019, he was one of eight finalists for the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s 2020 Ford C. Frick Award. The following year, he was elected to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame.

Born in 1946 in York, Pa., Howarth grew up in San Francisco. After graduating with a degree in Economics from the University of Santa Clara, he served as an officer in the U.S. army, V Corps Headquarters, in Frankfurt, Germany from 1968 to 1970.

When he returned to the U.S., he attended Hastings Law School at the University of California in downtown San Francisco, where he met his wife, Mary. Howarth began broadcasting with the triple-A Tacoma Twins in 1974 before assuming radio play-by-play duties for the triple-A Salt Lake City Gulls in 1976.

It was while with the Gulls that he first applied for a radio job with the Blue Jays in 1977. The Blue Jays opted to hire Tom Cheek and Hall of Fame pitcher Early Wynn, but they told Howarth to stay in touch.

Howarth’s big break came when Gulls’ manager Jimy Williams was hired by the Blue Jays in 1980 and put in a good word for Howarth with the franchise brass. With that endorsement, Howarth was brought in to work three radio broadcasts for the club in 1980 and 20 more the following campaign, before being hired full-time in 1982.

For 23 seasons, Howarth teamed with Cheek on Blue Jays radio broadcasts. During that period, he watched the team evolve into an American League East powerhouse. Howarth was in the booth for all five of the Blue Jays’ division titles between 1985 and 1993, as well as the team’s two World Series triumphs in 1992 and 1993.

Following Cheek’s passing in 2005, Howarth continued to be the voice of summer for Blue Jays fans on the radio. His broadcasts were sprinkled with trademark catch phrases like “The Blue Jays are in flight!” – a phrase he used when the club scored their first run in a game – and “And there she goes!” – his popular home run call.

In 2012, he was honoured with the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame’s Jack Graney Award and he would continue in the booth for the Blue Jays’ post-season games in 2015 and 2016 before electing to retire in 2017 after 37 seasons.

Howarth became a Canadian citizen in 1994 and resides in Toronto.

If Doucet or Howarth win the award, they would become the second consecutive Canadian to receive the honour. St. Thomas Ont., native and legendary Cleveland broadcaster Jack Graney was the 2021 recipient. He was honoured posthumously. Prior to his broadcasting career, Graney was a scrappy leadoff hitter for Cleveland. His big league resume boasts a number of firsts. When he 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 was the first major leaguer to bat wearing a number on his uniform. After hanging up his spikes, Graney became the first ex-player to make the transition to the broadcast booth, performing radio play-by-play for Cleveland from 1932 to 1953.

Though Graney is the first winner of the Frick Award to be born in Canada, longtime Expos broadcaster Dave Van Horne captured the honour in 2011 and Cheek was the recipient in 2013.

Aside from Doucet and Howarth, the other finalists for the 2023 Frick Award are Dave Campbell, Joe Castiglione, Gary Cohen, Tom Hamilton, Pat Hughes, Ernie Johnson Sr., Duane Kuiper and Steve Stone.

The winner will be announced at baseball’s Winter Meetings in San Diego on December 7. The winner will be honoured on July 22, 2023 as part of the Awards Presentation during Hall of Fame Weekend in Cooperstown.

You can read a short bio of each of the finalists here.

To be considered for the Frick Award, an active or retired broadcaster must have a minimum of 10 years of continuous major league broadcast service with a team, network, or a combination of the two.

This year’s ballot was created by a subcommittee that included past honorees Marty Brennaman, Ken Harrelson and Eric Nadel, and broadcast historians David J. Halberstam and Curt Smith.

The final voting will be conducted by a committee made up of the 12 living Frick Award recipients and three broadcast historians/columnists. The group will include past honorees Brennaman, Bob Costas, Harrelson, Jaime Jarrín, Tony Kubek, Denny Matthews, Tim McCarver, Al Michaels, Jon Miller, Nadel, Bob Uecker and Dave Van Horne, and historians/columnists Halberstam (historian), Barry Horn (formerly of the Dallas Morning News), and Smith (historian).

The award is named in honour of Ford C. Frick, a well-known sportswriter and radio broadcaster and who later became National League president and MLB commissioner.

You can find a complete list of past recipients of the Ford C. Frick Award here.

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