This past Friday, Jim Thome announced that he was doing what he could do, physically, to get himself ready to occasionally play first base (expected to be at least once a week) both before and after Ryan Howard returns, although during the season the Phils will be using him mainly as a late-innings pinch-hitting threat, like they did with Matt Stairs in late 2008 and 2009. Although the Phils will most likely be using Ty Wigginton as their everyday first baseman with John Mayberry playing the position against certain lefties during the regular season, until Howard’s expected return in late May, it is nice to know that Thome is getting himself ready for when he is called upon to play the position.
On Monday, it was announced that former Phils announcer Andy Musser died on Sunday at the age of 74 at his home in Wynnewood, PA. Musser was a member of the Phils’ broadcasting crew from 1976-2001, working with Hall of Famer Richie Ashburn and Ford C. Frick Award winners Harry Kalas and Tim McCarver, as well as present Phil broadcaster Chris Wheeler. Rest in Peace, Chris, and late condolences to your family.
The former center fielder and offensive catalyst, who entered the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown as a player in 1995, is among the names on the preliminary ballot for the Ford C. Frick Award.
The award is given to a broadcaster yearly, and this is the first step in the process. The top three vote-getters by the fans automatically qualify for the 10-member ballot that will be announced Oct. 6.
Ashburn,the longtime colorful color man to Hall of Famer announcer Harry Kalas, known as “Whitey,” could be named in July. Veteran announcers Chris Wheeler, Larry Andersen and former broadcaster Andy Musser are also included on the ballot.
Andersen, who completed his 11th season as a broadcaster, is on the preliminary ballot for the second time.
The Ford C. Frick Award recognizes one broadcaster each year who is then enshrined with the immortal voices of the sport. Legends Kalas (2002) and Byrum Saam (1990) are already enshrined in the broadcasters’ wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame, and wouldn’t mind company.
Of the 122,505 fans who participated in the online election last year, 82,304 (67.2 percent) voted for Joe Nuxhall, who died Nov. 15 from pneumonia at the age of 79. King received 7,659 votes and Morgan 6,065.
More than 470,000 votes were cast in the first five years of online balloting. Bay Area broadcaster Lon Simmons, who won the award in 2004, received the most fan votes in ’03. Niehaus topped the online voting in ’04 and King was the leader in ’05 and ’06.
Voters are asked to base selections on the following criteria — longevity; continuity with a club; honors, including national assignments such as the World Series and All-Star Games; and popularity with fans.
The voting electorate consists of 20 members, featuring 2005 Ford C. Frick Award winner Jerry Coleman and the other living Frick Award winners, including Marty Brennaman, Joe Garagiola, Ernie Harwell, Jaime Jarrin, Milo Hamilton, Kalas, Felo Ramirez, Vin Scully, Simmons and Bob Uecker. Paper ballots will be cast by voting members in January and the final results will be announced by the Hall of Fame in February.
Ashburn, arguably the most popular athlete in Philadelphia sports history, was enshrined as a player in 1995 by the Veterans Committee. Retiring in 1962, he joined the broadcast team of Saam and Bill Campbell, then teamed with Kalas beginning in 1971. His 35-year broadcasting career ended when he passed away on Sept. 9, 1997.
This season marks Wheeler’s 36th year with the Phillies. He joined the organization in 1971 — the first year of Veterans Stadium — as assistant director of publicity and public relations. He was added to the broadcast team in 1977 and has been on the air since.
Along with Kalas, Wheeler has witnessed many of the greatest games in Phillies history. He helped call three no-hitters, as well as a World Series championship in 1980 and National League pennants in 1976-78, ’83 and ’93.
Musser spent all 26 of his seasons with the Phillies from 1976-2001. He replaced Saam in 1976 and formed a trio with Kalas and Ashburn for more than 20 years. Musser missed only two games while with the Phillies because of laryngitis.
Other candidates with Philadelphia broadcasting ties are John Gordon — who began his career in 1965 with the Spartanburg Phillies — Tim McCarver (1980-82) and Al Helfer (1958). (H/T Phillies.com)
So, Richie Ashburn can be in the Hall not only for his bat and glove but also for his voice? Never thought that would ever be possible. Well, I’d already voted, and who did I vote for? Ashburn, Tony Kubeck and Phil Rizzuto. Go Richie!!! 🙂