Shaikin: Forget about Frick. It’s time to name this prize after Vin Scully.
The postseason won’t be the same without Vin Scully. The last time we had one without him, “the postseason” was simply called “the World Series,” won by the most celebrated team in baseball history: the 1927 New York Yankees.
Scully was born one month later, and his decorated career included some of the most memorable calls in postseason history, including these 1988 words that will live forever: “In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened!”
If you are an old-time Dodgers fan, these 1959 words will live forever: “Up with it is Mantilla, throws low and wild! Hodges scores, we go to Chicago!” If you are afflicted with East Coast bias, these 1986 words will live forever: “It gets through Buckner!”
The postseason starts Friday, two days after the Hall of Fame announced this year’s nominees for the game’s highest broadcasting award. By the time the winner of the Frick Award is honored at the Hall of Fame next July, the award should be renamed for Scully.
If you ask me, the award should be renamed for Scully and Jaime Jarrín. No sport fosters tighter bonds between a broadcaster and a fan base, and no other voices did it for one team better or longer: 67 years for Scully, 64 years for Jarrín.
Scully was the soundtrack of summer in Southern California. And, as Edward James Olmos observed at Jarrín’s retirement ceremony last week, Jarrín’s dignity — and, later, Fernando Valenzuela’s popularity — enabled the Dodgers to cultivate a massive fan base among Latinos wary of absolving the Dodgers for the original sin of building their stadium on city-provided land once home to Latino communities.
But, when I asked Jarrín, he said the honor should belong to Scully alone.
“I think the recognition should be to Vin,” Jarrín said.
“He was the best,” Jarrín said. “He knew baseball very well. He had the talent to paint with words. Nobody else like him. I think most of my colleagues accept that.
“I think the consensus right now is that they should change the name of the Ford Frick award to his name. I am 100% in favor of that.”
— Jaime Jarrín on Vin Scully
“He was the best of the best. No question about it.”
The Frick Award is named for Ford Frick, the third commissioner of Major League Baseball, and the man generally credited with coming up with the idea of the Hall of Fame.
Frick was a broadcaster, but only briefly. He spent more time as a newspaper reporter than a broadcaster. He served MLB for 32 years, first as National League president, then as commissioner. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame as an executive.
The game’s highest broadcasting honor should be named for a broadcaster. Scully should be the name.
“I think the consensus right now is that they should change the name of the Ford Frick award to his name,” Jarrín said. “I am 100% in favor of that.”
That sentiment has made its way to Cooperstown. Josh Rawitch, the president of the Hall of Fame, does not need to be persuaded about Scully’s greatness. Rawitch, who grew up in Southern California, covered the Dodgers as a beat writer and later promoted them as a team publicist.
“There are very few people in the history of the game who have had an impact like Vin,” Rawitch said. “You saw the outpouring of support when he passed, because of how much he means to everybody.”
Rawitch would not decide whether to rename the award. That would be up to the Hall’s board of directors.
“A number of people throughout the game have suggested we do something in order to honor Vin,” Rawitch said.
“I’m sure we’ll talk about that as a board, when the time is right. What’s most important is that we recognize him already, in the broadcasters’ wing of the Hall of Fame, and he is a huge part of our history throughout the museum. We’ll have to look at whether there is anything beyond that.”
The Hall also welcomes a baseball writer each year. That award used to be known as the Spink Award, named after the longtime publisher of the Sporting News, until a review showed the so-called Bible of Baseball had been littered with stereotypes and racist language during Spink’s tenure.
The Baseball Writers Assn. of America, which administers that award, voted last year to rename it the Career Excellence Award.
In this case, the Hall would not be dropping Frick’s name because he did something wrong. And, if the Hall considered changing the name of the award, there would be cries in support of other legendary broadcasters — including the first winners of the award, Mel Allen and Red Barber.
So, yes, there would be some diplomacy involved. It would not be as easy as changing a few pages on the Hall of Fame website over the next couple of days.
Frankly, the decision should not be hard. The game’s greatest broadcasting honor should be renamed in honor of the game’s greatest broadcaster.
Scully thrilled us with a lifetime of great calls. The Hall of Fame just needs to make one great call.