Pantagraph staff with AP reports
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. - Two Bloomington natives are among the 10 finalists for baseball broadcasting's highest honor.
Trinity High School and Illinois Wesleyan graduate Denny Matthews and Bloomington High School graduate Bill King, who died in October, are Ford C. Frick Award nominees, the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum said Tuesday.
The award has been presented annually since 1978 for excellence in baseball broadcasting. It is named in memory of Hall of Famer Ford C. Frick, the renowned sportswriter, National League president and baseball commissioner.
Frick Committee voting members will cast their votes by mail in January, and results will be announced Feb. 21. The award will be presented at the Hall of Fame induction ceremony July 31.
Matthews has been behind the microphone for the Kansas City Royals since the team's first game in 1969. He was inducted into the Royals' Hall of Fame in 2004. He started in the No. 2 announcing position behind Butt Blattner in 1969, then took over the No. 1 job in 1976.
King, a 1945 BHS graduate, died on Oct. 18 at age 79 as the result of hip surgery complications. He was a longtime San Francisco Bay-area broadcaster, including 25 years with the Oakland Athletics (1981-2005). He also had long stints as a broadcaster for the Oakland Raiders of the AFL and NFL, and San Francisco-Golden State Warriors of the NBA.
King's signature call of "Holy Toledo!" was a household phrase for decades in the Bay area.
Broadcasting pioneers Graham McNamee and Dizzy Dean join Matthews as finalists on a list chosen by a museum research committee. Also on the list are Ken Coleman, Tony Kubek, Tom Cheek and Gene Elston.
Dave Niehaus and Jacques Doucet join King as nominees chosen by fans in an online vote conducted in November by the Hall of Fame.
McNamee, who died in 1942, called the first 12 World Series and generally is credited with the birth of live sports broadcasting in this country. In 1923, McNamee, who also called games for 13 seasons for Westinghouse and NBC, reported the World Series between the Yankees and the Giants from the Polo Grounds in New York.
Dean, already in the Hall of Fame as a player, spent 24 seasons as a color man in St. Louis and nationally with Mutual Radio and ABC/CBS Game of the Week, helping revolutionize baseball broadcasts. He died in 1974.
Coleman, who died two years ago, spent 35 seasons with the Indians (1954-63), Reds (1975-78) and Red Sox (1966-74, 1979-89).
Niehaus has been calling Seattle Mariners games for 37 season, joining Matthews as the only active broadcasters on the ballot.
Doucet spent all 34 years of his baseball broadcast career as the play-by-play radio voice of the Montreal Expos on the French network before retiring last year, while Elston spent 43 seasons broadcasting the Cubs and Astros, Mutual Game of the Day, NBC Game of the Week and CBS Game of the Week before retiring in the late 1990s.
Kubek, now 69, was a star shortstop for the New York Yankees in the 1960s, then spent 30 seasons nationally with the NBC Game of the Week and the Blue Jays and Yankees as a color commentator.
Cheek and King died in a two-week span in October. Cheek spent 32 seasons covering the Montreal Expos (1974-76) and Toronto Blue Jays (1977-2004), the last 28 seasons as the Jays' radio play-by-play man before his death from brain cancer at age 66.