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NBC'S KUBEK WINS 2009 FRICK AWARD
Former Jays, Yankees voice first analyst to receive broadcasting honor
By Barry M. Bloom / MLB.com Published: 12/09/2008 2:01 PM ET
Tony Kubek, the former New York Yankees shortstop who made even a bigger name for himself in his post-playing career as an analyst on NBC's old Game of the Week telecasts, is the winner of the 2009 Ford C. Frick Award, an honor bestowed on broadcasters by the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Kubek's election continues a week of distinctly Yankees flavor as far as the Hall of Fame is concerned. On Monday, a Veterans Committee elected Yankees and Cleveland Indians second baseman Joe Gordon to the Hall.
Both will be honored on July 26 along with any winner on the Baseball Writers' Association of America ballot. Rickey Henderson, the all-time stolen base leader and a Yankee from 1985-88, is the top contender for election.
"For an entire generation of baseball fans, Tony Kubek was the face and the voice of the game," Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson said. "In the days before all-sports TV networks, Tony brought baseball into your living room every Saturday afternoon for almost three decades. His straight forward style, quick and detailed analysis and no-nonsense commentary on the game's nuances gave viewers an insider's look at what the players were experiencing on the field."
Dave Niehaus of the Seattle Mariners was the Frick Award recipient this year and was honored by the Hall on July 27 along with reliever Rich Gossage, who wore a Yankees cap on his plaque.
As a Frick winner, Kubek is the first to be named exclusively as an analyst since the award was inaugurated in 1978, the first television broadcaster to be honored since Bob Wolff in 1995 and the first Frick Award to have called games for a Canadian team, the Toronto Blue Jays.
But his playing career also stands out.
The middle infielders -- Gordon and Kubek -- played during two distinct and successful Yankees eras and were members of a combined 11 World Series teams as Bronx Bombers, winning seven of them.
Gordon was with the Yankees from 1938-43 and again after World War II in 1946. With the Yanks, he played for five American League pennant winners and four World Series champions before being traded to the Indians for pitcher Allie Reynolds. As an Indian, Gordon also played for Cleveland's 1948 World Series-winning team.
Kubek played his entire nine-year career from 1957-65 with the Yankees and was a member of six AL pennant-winning teams, three of them World Series champions.
But Kubek rose to greater fame as an analyst on NBC's Game of the Week telecasts during the 1960s and 70s. He also had stints in the same position with the Yankees and Blue Jays.
He was only one of three living nominees on the 10-man ballot.
Kubek spent 24 years at NBC teaming with Jim Simpson, Curt Gowdy, Joe Garagiola and Bob Costas. He could be considered baseball's first modern-style analyst, paving the way for such familiar current voices as Tim McCarver, Tony Gwynn, Buck Martinez and Tom Seaver.
Kubek called 11 World Series, 14 American League Championship Series and 10 All-Star Games. He also was in the booth for the final NBC Game of the Week on Sept. 30, 1989, and that fall's ALCS, which ended a 43-relationship between the network and Major League Baseball.
He was joined on this year's ballot by Joe Nuxhall, Tom Cheek, Jacques Doucet, Dizzy Dean, Ken Coleman, Lanny Frattare, Dave Van Horne, Billy Berroa and Graham McNamee.
Van Horne, now with the Florida Marlins after 33 years as the English voice of the Montreal Expos, was the only active broadcaster on the ballot, following Frattare's retirement from the Pittsburgh Pirates' booth after 33 seasons in September.
A 20-member electorate, composed of the 14 living Frick Award recipients and six historians/columnists, cast their votes by mail in November. Voters were asked to base selections on a broadcaster's longevity; continuity with a club; honors, including national assignments such as the World Series and All-Star Games; and popularity with fans.
To be considered, an active or retired broadcaster must have had a minimum of 10 years of continuous Major League broadcast service with a club, network or combination of the two. In 2008, more than 200 broadcasters were eligible for consideration for the award.
"Now that's a real shame when folks be throwin' away a perfectly good white boy like that."