Jacques Doucet (left) and Dan Shulman (right) have been named 2023 Ford C. Frick Award finalists. Photos: Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame
October 25, 2023
By Kevin Glew
Cooperstowners in Canada
Canadian broadcasting stars Jacques Doucet and Dan Shulman are among the 10 finalists for the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s 2024 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 2022.
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 in 2022, 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 and 2022, he was also a finalist for the Frick Award. In 2020, he was elected to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame.
Born in Toronto in 1967, Shulman attended the University of Western Ontario and took up broadcasting as an extracurricular activity in his freshman year. He soon found himself doing play-by-play for the university’s basketball, football, and hockey teams, but never seriously considered a career in broadcasting while he was at school.
He graduated in 1989 with a degree in actuarial science and landed a job in his field and worked as an actuary for nearly a year. But he soon discovered that he didn’t enjoy his job, so he started working as an anchor for CKBB, a Barrie, Ont., radio station, on weekends. When he was offered a full-time position with the station in 1990, he quit his job as an actuary for good.
In 1991, Shulman moved on to the FAN 1430 (now Sportsnet 590 The FAN) where he hosted a number of shows, including Prime Time Sports, The Major League Report and Baseball Today. In 1995, he began serving as the Blue Jays’ play-by-play commentator alongside Buck Martinez and also working part-time for ESPN.
He joined ESPN full-time in 2001 and was the voice of Wednesday Night Baseball from 2002 to 2007, Monday Night Baseball from 2008 to 2010 and Sunday Night Baseball from 2011 to 2017. The Toronto native also started calling MLB postseason games on the radio for ESPN in 1998.
On top of his baseball duties, he has been a play-by-play commentator on ESPN’s NCAA basketball broadcasts for over 25 years. The versatile play-by-play man has also called NBA contests for TSN and ESPN, NHL games for TSN, and called hockey at the Winter Olympics in Lillehammer for CTV in 1994.
Shulman has been the recipient of many previous honours for broadcasting excellence, including being named the 2011 National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association (NSSA) National Sportscaster of the Year and being selected the Sports Media Canada Broadcaster of the Year in 2000 and 2007.
Shulman returned to the Blue Jays television crew in 2016 and has been calling games for Rogers Sportsnet in each season since.
The Toronto native was a finalist for the Frick Award in 2020, the same year he was named the recipient of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame’s Jack Graney Award.
Another Canadian Frick Award winner?
If Doucet or Shulman win the award, they would become the second Canadian in three years 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 legendary Toronto Blue Jays broadcaster Tom Cheek was the recipient in 2013.
Other 2024 Frick Award finalists
Aside from Doucet and Shulman, the other finalists for the 2024 Frick Award are Joe Buck, Joe Castiglione, Gary Cohen, Tom Hamilton, Ernie Johnson Sr., Ken Korach, Mike Krukow and Duane Kuiper.
The winner will be announced at baseball’s Winter Meetings in Nashville on December 6. The winner will be honoured on July 20, 2024 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.
Criteria and Frick Award Committee
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, Bob Costas and Pat Hughes, 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, Costas, Ken Harrelson, Hughes, Jaime Jarrín, Tony Kubek, Denny Matthews, Al Michaels, Jon Miller, Eric 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 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.