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Handicapping Hawk’s Hall hype

He’s not the favorite, but never count Harrelson out

Chicago Cubs v Chicago White Sox
The one, the only: The Hawkeroo.
Photo by Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Ken “Hawk” Harrelson was nominated for the 2020 Ford Frick Award, in the category of “Current Major League Markets” — the categories alternates yearly among this one, National Voices and Broadcast Beginnings (pioneers) — with the winner announced on December 11 at the Baseball Winter Meetings in San Diego.

The electorate for this ballot includes 11 living Frick winners (Marty Brennaman, Bob Costas, Jaime Jarrín, Tony Kubek, Denny Matthews, Tim McCarver, Jon Miller, Eric Nadel, Vin Scully, Bob Uecker, Dave Van Horne) and four broadcast historians or columnists (David J. Halberstam, Barry Horn, Ted Patterson and Curt Smith). Costas, Matthews, Nadel, Smith and Van Horne comprised the subcommittee that created this year’s ballot.

For consideration, an active or retired broadcaster must have at least 10 years of continuous major league broadcast service with a team or network — which made more than 200 broadcasters eligible for the Frick ballot this year.

Here are the nominees, with the approximate odds each has of being inducted.

Joe Castiglione spent 37 of his 40 years in baseball as the lead radio voice for the Boston Red Sox. This will be test of any East Coast bias. 6%

Jacques Doucet spent 33 of his 40 seasons in baseball as the play-by-play radio voice of the Montreal Expos on their French network before taking over as the French play-by-play TV voice of the Toronto Blue Jays. Previous to that, he was a beat writer for the daily newspaper La Presse. Hard to imagine non-English broadcasters get much consideration in the vote. 4%

Tom Hamilton has spent all 30 years of his career with Cleveland, calling 92 postseason games in total, on WTAM and the Indians Radio Network. Hamilton is a seven-time recipient of the Ohio Sportscaster of the Year Award (1997, 2000, 2001, 2004, 2006, 2013, 2017). Solid candidate, as highly-regarded but lower-profiled than Pat Hughes. 15%

Ken Harrelson spent 42 years as a broadcaster, including 28 with the White Sox. He is the only nominee to have been a professional golfer, or to have been a general manager in baseball. Also played in the majors with Kansas City, Washington, Boston and Cleveland. The highest-profile candidate by far, but his later years of broadcasting suffered too much for him to be a favorite. 17%.

Pat Hughes has 37 years in baseball, the last 24 with the Chicago Cubs as WGN Radio play-by-play voice. He’s been the Wisconsin Sportscaster of the Year three times (1990-92, for his Marquette basketball work) and Illinois Sportscaster of the Year Award nine times (1996, 1999, 2006-07, 2009, 2014-15, 2017, 2019). Well-regarded, a safe compromise choice. 19%

Ned Martin spent 32 years on the radio with the Red Sox. Like Harrelson, had a “wryly descriptive style” and used as his catchphrase “MERCY!,” which Harrelson brought into his own broadcasts. Martin passed away in 2002. Hard to imagine Martin being honored this year, with seven other living candidates on the ballot. 2%

Mike Shannon has 48 years in baseball, all with St. Louis Cardinals radio. He broke into the big leagues with the Cardinals in 1962 and won titles with the club in 1964 and 1967. With Costas a powerful voice in the nominations and voting, Shannon has to have the inside track this year. 30%

Dewayne Staats has broadcast baseball for 43 years, the last 22 with the Tampa Bay Rays. Before that, he worked stints with the Houston Astros and Cubs. Tough competition this year for Staats. 7%