Barry M. Bloom

Radio pioneer McNamee wins Frick Award

Radio pioneer McNamee wins Frick Award

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The late Graham McNamee, one of the radio voices of the 1923 World Series between the New York Giants and Yankees, is the 2016 winner of the Ford C. Frick Award for a meritorious career in baseball broadcasting, the National Baseball Hall of Fame announced on Wednesday morning.

That World Series was historic for a number of reasons. It was the third in a row for the rival New York teams, it was the first played at Yankee Stadium, and the first of the Yankees' 27 World Series titles.

From a broadcasting standpoint, McNamee, a nascent opera singer who was raised in St. Paul, Minn., was paired with 1966 J.G. Spink Award winner and legendary sportswriter Grantland Rice on that World Series, setting the standard for all Fall Classic radio coverage to follow.

"Graham McNamee defined what it was to broadcast baseball games to a nationwide audience," said Hall president Jeff Idelson. "Without any blueprint, he created a genre, bringing baseball to an even bigger, national stage: The new medium of radio. The legendary voices of the last three-quarters of a century can trace their lineage straight to Graham. Baseball's scope and popularity were forever widened in the wake of his pioneering work."

McNamee will be honored during induction weekend this coming July 23-24 in Cooperstown, N.Y. The Saturday ceremony on July 23 will be at Doubleday Field, and Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe will receive the Spink Award for excellence throughout his nearly 40-year career in baseball writing on the same day. The Baseball Writers' Association of America announced on Tuesday that Shaughnessy had won the annual award.

The induction ceremony for any players elected by the BBWAA will be held behind the Clark Sports Center on Jan. 24. Ken Griffey Jr. and Trevor Hoffman are the most prominent first-timers on that ballot, which eligible voters must submit by Dec. 21. Mike Piazza has a shot at making up a 38-vote deficit and getting elected on his fourth time on the ballot.

The announcement of any BBWAA electees will be on Jan. 6 in New York, with a press conference the next day.

For the second consecutive year, there was no electees from an era Veterans' Committee on Monday.

McNamee is the 40th recipient of the Frick Award, which was inaugurated in 1978 by honoring Mel Allen and Red Barber, two broadcasters who worked for the Yankees in the 1950s and '60s. Barber was one of the greatest of that era with his Brooklyn Dodgers broadcasts from the "catbird seat" at Ebbets Field. Dick Enberg, now of the Padres, won the Frick last year. Enberg will retire at the end of this season, just months after the Padres host the All-Star Game at Petco Park.

As with the Veterans' Committees, the Frick Award is now broken down into distinct eras. This year, McNamee was the winner of a group of 10 representing the Broadcasting Dawn Era, which begins with initial baseball broadcasts and ends in the 1950s.

The 18-member group that elects the Frick Award is comprised of the 14 living former recipients and four broadcast historians/columnists. It includes Frick honorees Marty Brennaman, Dick Enberg, Joe Garagiola, Jaime Jarrin, Tony Kubek, Tim McCarver, Denny Matthews, Jon Miller, Eric Nadel, Felo Ramirez, Vin Scully, Bob Uecker, Dave Van Horne and Bob Wolff, and historians/columnists Bob Costas (NBC and MLB Network), Barry Horn (Dallas Morning News), Ted Patterson (historian) and Curt Smith (author and historian).

Unlike the 16-person Pre-Integration Committee, which pondered six players, three executives and one pioneer whose careers all began prior to Jackie Robinson integrating the Major Leagues in 1947, the Frick Committee decides its winner by a majority vote.

It's an award rather than an actual Hall of Fame election, which takes a 75-percent vote of that particular committee or body to elect a candidate.

This year's 10 Frick finalists -- three determined by an online vote and seven by a panel of broadcasters and historians -- were Jack Graney, Harry Heilmann, Al Helfer, France Laux, Tom Manning, Rosey Rowswell, Hal Totten, Ty Tyson, Bert Wilson and McNamee.

In September, Graney, McNamee and Wilson emerged from the Hall's online fan poll for inclusion on the final 10-name ballot as the top three selections.

McNamee was born in Washington, D.C., in 1888 and died in 1942 at only 54 years of age. His work at that 1923 World Series for WEAF in New York set the stage for announcers in the early era of national radio broadcasting. He helped establish the presence of NBC at major events, calling auto races, boxing matches, political conventions and the return of Charles Lindbergh from his historic first transatlantic flight in '27. Just like Lindbergh that year, McNamee was featured on the cover of Time Magazine.

But it was through baseball games that McNamee reached his greatest audience. He called the World Series each year from 1923-34 and also worked the first four Major League All-Star Games from '33-36.

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.