* Tom Cheek has won the Ford C. Frick award, but who was Ford C. Frick guy. Pretty impressive man, like Cheek. ... MLB, Brewers open workouts 2014 Canadian draft list 2013 Canadians in the Minors 2013 Canadians in College Letters of Intent
RationaL: A Swing and a Belt
By Bob Elliott
Who was this Ford C. Frick guy anyway?
Some famous broadcaster?
An early radio pioneer who lugged engineering equipment from one end of major-league map (New York) to the other (St. Louis)?
No, the man who the award for broadcasting excellence is named after was much more than that.
So, before Shirley Cheek accepts the Frick award 10 days from now on Saturday in an intimate gathering in front of roughly 4,000 fans and 40 Hall of Famers at Doubleday Field in Cooperstown, we thought you should know about Frick.
Jackie Robinson changed the game forever with the help of general manager Branch Rickey and Brooklyn Dodgers owner Walter O’Malley, by breaking the color barrier which previously forced him play and others to play in the Negro Leagues. Robinson signed with the Dodgers and played for triple-A Montreal in 1946.
When Robinson made the Dodgers the next year, St. Louis Cardinals players vowed never to step onto the same field as Robinson after he had classed up the majors.
At the time Frick was the president of the National League.
Frick did not have a horse in the race like the Dodgers who wanted to win, or like Robinson who wanted to play or like the racists, who well we don’t care what they wanted.
Frick had an eight-team, 154-game schedule to play, he had to declare a winner in time for the World Series and wasn’t taking any bull from the southern crackers.
Fine ... decreed Frick.
Don’t want to play against the Dodgers and Robinson?
You will be suspended.
“The league will go down the line with Robinson,” Frick told players. “If you do this, you are through and I don’t care if it wrecks the league for 10 years.
“You cannot do this because this is America.”
Complaining players played.
Oh, they tried to spike Robinson and hurled names his way, but Robinson replied with a bunt single, a steal of second and third, scoring on a short fly ball to centre.
In short Frick, NL president from 1934 to 1951 and commissioner from 1951 to 1965, was an honourable man.
Much like the late Thomas F. Cheek.
Born in Wawaka, Ind., Frick had a varied, well-balanced background teaching (Colorado high school); working in the War Department (supervising training in the rehab division for Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Wyoming); writing for newspapers (Colorado Springs Gazette, Rocky Mountain News in Denver, the Colorado Springs Telegraph, the New York American and the New York Evening Journal) and radio (WOR in New York).
He took over for NL pres, John A. Heydler -- the first commissioner not to have a political background.
Frick played a role in the establishment of the Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, along with Stephen Clark and Alexander Cleland.
As commissioner he oversaw two teams re-locate to the coast: the Dodgers to Los Angeles, the New York Giants to San Francisco in 1958.
He oversaw expansion adding the Los Angeles Angels and the Washington Senators, with the old Sens moving to Minneapolis in the American League in 1961 and a year the Houston Astros and the New York Mets were added to the NL.
He helped move baseball into a era of increased TV revenue.
As Roger Maris chased Babe Ruth’s single-season record in 1961, Frick ruled Maris had to hit 61 in 154 games to eclipse Ruth’s mark. Frick never called for asterisk but ruled there would be two records:
One for a 154-game season.
Another for a 162 games,
Frick retired in 1968 and two years later was elected to Cooperstown by the Veteran’s committee, along with Earle Combs and Jesse Haines.
Former shortstop Lou Boudreau was the only player voted into Cooperstown in 1970.
On induction day, July 27, 1970 Frick said in part:
“A lot of people question old times, question what has gone before, question past generations, and that’s their privilege. But I leave this thought to you, without the memories of the past there could be no dreams of greatness in the future, without those passing yesterdays, there could possibly be no bright tomorrow’s.”
When he died in 1978 at age 83, the Hall of Fame established the Ford C. Frick Award presented annually for outstanding contributions to broadcasting.
Frick also said:
“As I look around and see these men who have preceded me sitting on the stand, I recognize the physical contributions they made as players when all I could do was sit and talk about baseball ... and love baseball. If those are qualifications then I accept very happily. I am a proud man today too.”
Thomas Cheek, former Blue Jays broadcaster and winner of the 2013 Frick award, could not have said it any better.