Gene Elston, voice of the Houston Astros for 25 years from 1962-86, will be presented with the 2006 Ford C. Frick Award during Sunday's Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Elston -- whose baseball broadcasting career also featured numerous seasons with Mutual Radio's "Game of the Day," CBS Radio's "Game of the Week" and the Chicago Cubs -- was chosen from 10 finalists for this year's award, presented annually for broadcasting excellence. Elston shared his thoughts with Brad Horn, the Hall of Fame's communications director, this week before heading to Cooperstown.
This weekend in Cooperstown means an awful lot to me. I never thought much about the Ford C. Frick Award during my broadcasting career. This experience has just developed. I knew about the award when it started in 1978, and in the late 1980s, I was told I was being considered, but I never thought about it. I had the feeling that maybe someday I would be really seriously considered. Now that it has happened, I am really happy about this. Winning the award is an awesome thing for me.
I'm sharing this weekend with my wife Joan, all three of my children, a couple of grandchildren and so many friends -- from as far away as Colorado and Florida. My 4-year-old grandson is most excited about the trip. I've been up to Cooperstown twice, and both times, I was completely enthralled by the experience. It's been 20 years since I've been (the Astros played the Red Sox in the 1985 Hall of Fame Game), so I'm looking forward to soaking it all in.
The thing that really hit me about visiting Cooperstown before was the sheer beauty of it all. I think it's the only place for a baseball fan to go to really get into the game. Everyone should see it.
Since winning the award, I've heard from so many people, including past Frick Award winners Lon Simmons and Jerry Coleman, among others. After I retired in 1996, I didn't make many public appearances intentionally, very much the way I wanted it to be. But over the last year, it's been great to see the response of fans and the loyalty that fans have toward teams and individuals in this game.
Of all the Hall of Famers I look forward to seeing this weekend, I can't wait to see Bob Feller. Bob and I worked together my first year at Mutual Radio. Bob had just come out of retirement and was my color man on the radio. It was overly exciting to work with Bob for a number of reasons, but also that we were both from Iowa. He was living in Cleveland, and I was in Chicago. On travel days, he would pilot his Beechcraft one-engine Bonanza into Chicago and we'd fly together to go do the game. He was somewhat of a cowboy. We had some experiences in that one-engine plane. It's been a long time since we've been together, and I really look forward to seeing him.
Gene Elston was the voice of the Houston Astros for 25 years from 1962-86. He will be presented with the 2006 Ford C. Frick Award during Sunday's Hall of Fame induction ceremony. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.