MLB.com Columnist

Barry M. Bloom

Hughes, Hamilton have opportunity of lifetime

Hughes, Hamilton have opportunity of lifetime

CLEVELAND -- The calls of great moments in baseball history are often just as iconic as the moments themselves.

And at the end of this World Series -- the unlikely coupling of the Cubs against the Indians, which opens on Tuesday night at Progressive Field -- there will be a huge opportunity for the play-by-play radio guys to make their marks.

World Series gear: Cubs | Indians

World Series Game 1: Tuesday 7:30 p.m. ET air time/8 p.m. game time on FOX

Pat Hughes has been broadcasting Cubs games for 20 years. Tom Hamilton has been doing the same for the Tribe for 27. The Cubs haven't won the World Series since 1908, the Indians since 1948.

Hamilton calls the Indians' run

It's a confluence of events and forces that should lead to not only dramatic baseball, but to a description of the outcome that will last forever.

Game Date Matchup Highlights
Gm 1 Oct. 25 CLE 6, CHC 0 video
Gm 2 Oct. 26 CHC 5, CLE 1 video
Gm 3 Oct. 28 CLE 1, CHC 0 video
Gm 4 Oct. 29 CLE 7, CHC 2 video
Gm 5 Oct. 30 CHC 3, CLE 2 video
Gm 6 Nov. 1 CHC 9, CLE 3 video
Gm 7 Nov. 2 CHC 8 CLE, 7 (10) video

"You think about how lucky you are to have this job," Hamilton told MLB.com when reached by phone on Sunday. "I've known that since the day I got it 27 years ago. And if you're a play-by-play guy, you live for these kinds of moments."

If the Cubs win it all, Hughes will have a chance to call an event that hasn't happened since the dawn of radio. Even so, on Saturday night he was the first Cubs broadcaster since the legendary Jack Brickhouse in 1945 to tell his audience that the Cubs had won a pennant.

The Cubs won Game 6 of their National League Championship Series, 5-0, over the Dodgers at Wrigley Field, which opened in 1914 and has never been home to a World Series champion. The Cubs didn't even begin broadcasting their games on radio until 1924.

"It was extremely thrilling, one of the highlights of my life," said Hughes, now 61 and a Cubs broadcaster since 1996. "It was a very sweet moment when three of the things I love most came together in that moment and that is the Cubs, baseball and broadcasting. It was nerve-racking, but I was so thrilled to make the call."

This is how Hughes paraphrased his description of that moment:

Radio Call: Cubs clinch NLCS

"The Cubs are going to the World Series, and they win the pennant. And the National League-champion Chicago Cubs are going to play the Indians in the World Series."

Both Hughes and Hamilton said these calls can't be scripted. Neither of them thought ahead about making their pennant calls, and they certainly haven't determined how they might call a World Series victory for the first time in either of their careers.

The details of how it all ends are going to dictate that.

"It's whatever comes to you at that moment," Hughes said. "I tell people it would be one kind of a call if there was an 11-0 lead at the moment of victory or Kris Bryant [hitting] a three-run homer."

The greatest calls are of homers that decided a season, World Series game or series. Everyone has their iconic favorites. The pair mentioned three.

Russ Hodges of the Giants calling Bobby Thomson's homer, which beat the Dodgers for the NL pennant in 1951 at the Polo Grounds: "The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!"

The dueling calls by Vin Scully on national television and Jack Buck on the radio of Kirk Gibson's famous "limp-off" homer, which won Game 1 of the 1988 World Series for the Dodgers over the A's at Dodger Stadium.

Tom Cheek's famous call of the walk-off homer Joe Carter hit for the Blue Jays at what was then called Skydome to win the 1993 World Series in six games over the Phillies: "Touch 'em all, Joe," Cheek said. "You'll never hit a bigger homer in your life!"

Only two World Series have been decided by homers -- in 1993, and in 1960, when Pirates second baseman Bill Mazeroski beat the Yankees in a Game 7 stunner.

Bob Prince called that one screaming over the din of the crowd at Forbes Field: "There's a high fly ball to left, and it may do it. It's over the wall, and it's a homer. The Pirates win!" Prince then went silent for 31 seconds and let the roar of the crowd take over.

Hamilton, 60, has been calling Indians games since 1990, so he was behind the mic when Cleveland last won American League pennants in 1995 and '97. They lost the World Series on both occasions - to the Braves in six games and two years later to the Marlins in seven.

Radio Call: Indians clinch ALCS

Jimmy Dudley and Jack Graney called the Indians games the last time the Tribe won the World Series, defeating the Boston Braves in six games. It's been a long time since then.

"I think back to the '90s, and maybe because I was much younger and we were so good, that you just expected to be in the postseason every year," Hamilton said. "But now that you're 20 years removed from that era, you realize how special it is and how difficult it is. I have a much greater appreciation of it now."

Sometime in the next four to seven games, the Cubs or Indians will win, and the announcers will have the opportunity of a lifetime.

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com 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.