2 JOURNALISM INDUCTION HONOREES
COOPERSTOWN – Ken Harrelson will be honored with the Ford C. Frick Award for excellence in broadcasting, and the late Nick Cafardo, for the J.G. Spink Award for “meritorious contributions to baseball writing” Saturday, July 25, during the 2020 Hall of Fame Induction Weekend.
Born Sept. 4, 1941, in Woodruff, S.C., and raised in Savannah, Ga., Harrelson was a star amateur athlete in several sports before signing with the Kansas City Athletics in 1959 following a heated bidding war. After stellar seasons in the minor leagues in 1961 and 1962, Harrelson debuted with the Athletics midway through the 1963 campaign. With Kansas City, he helped popularize the batting glove, which quickly became standard issue for most big leaguers.
A series of deals in the 1967 season brought Harrelson to Boston, where he helped the “Impossible Dream” Red Sox win the American League pennant. In 1968, Harrelson had his best season, hitting 35 home runs to go with an AL-best 109 RBI during the Year of the Pitcher. As Boston’s everyday right fielder, Harrelson was named to the AL All-Star team and finished third in the league’s Most Valuable Player voting.
A broken leg in Spring Training of 1970 hastened the end of his playing career, and, after a stint as a pro golfer, Harrelson turned to broadcasting. He called games on television and radio for the Red Sox from 1975-81, then moved to the White Sox in 1982. He was hired as the White Sox’s general manager following the 1985 campaign, and after one season in the front office returned to the broadcast booth with the Yankees in 1987. Harrelson rejoined the White Sox’s booth in 1989, remaining with the team for the next three decades before retiring after the 2018 season.
A five-time Emmy Award winner, Harrelson’s trademark calls of “You can put it on the board…Yes!” and “Mercy!” became the nightly soundtrack for multiple generations of White Sox fans.
Nick Cafardo informed and entertained New England’s baseball fan base for more than 35 years up to the last day of his life.
Cafardo received 243 votes from the 427 ballots cast by BBWAA members with 10 or more consecutive years’ service in becoming the 71st winner of the award since its inception in 1962 and named for the first recipient. Spink was a driving force of the Sporting News, known during his lifetime as the “Baseball Bible.”
A Weymouth Mass., native and Suffolk University graduate, Cafardo worked at the Brockton Enterprise and the Quincy Patriot-Ledger before joining the Boston Globe as baseball columnist in 1989. Nick inherited the Sunday notes column, founded by 2004 Spink Award recipient Peter Gammons in the early 1970s, and did not miss a single week over the final 15 years of his career. Cafardo made virtually every Red Sox trip and covered more than 30 World Series, All-Star Games and Winter Meetings.
Cafardo covered Red Sox World Series victories in 2004, 2007, 2013 and 2018. When the Red Sox and Dodgers played 18 innings in Game 3 of the 2018 Series at Dodger Stadium, Nick turned to colleagues with the score tied at the start of the 18th and remarked, “Isn’t this great?” Then he made deadline (Eovaldi Heroic in Defeat) in a game that ended at 3:30 a.m. Boston time. Cafardo wrote four baseball books and won the Massachusetts Sportswriter of the Year Award in 2014 and the Boston Baseball Writers’ Dave O’Hara Award in 2017.
Cafardo’s final baseball article, a column about World Series MVP Steve Pearce, appeared in the Globe Feb. 21, 2019. Cafardo was scheduled to be off that day but went to the ballpark anyway and died outside the Red Sox’ spring training clubhouse. He was 62. He is the first posthumous winner of the award since his Boston Globe colleague, Larry Whiteside, in 2008.