By GREG KLEIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
SPRINGFIELD — The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum honored five men for their contributions to the game Saturday, July 24, in a ceremony held at The Glimmerglass Festival and aired Sunday, July 25, on the MLB Network and on social media.
The Hall honored 2021 Ford C. Frick Award winner Al Michaels; 2020 Ford C. Frick Award winner Ken Harrelson; 2021 BBWAA Career Excellence Award winner Dick Kaegel; 2020 BBWAA Career Excellence Award winner Nick Cafardo; and 2020 Buck O’Neil Lifetime Achievement Award winner David Montgomery.
“Broadcasters and writers give fans a window into our national pastime,” MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said. “They are in our homes. They teach the game to our fans.”
Michaels has been the voice of several sports, and is the play-by-play broadcaster on NBC’s Sunday Night Football. However, he will always be known for his “Do you believe in miracles?” call on the 1980 Olympic Games, when the United States men’s hockey team won an unexpected gold medal. His baseball roots include a path into MLB broadcasting with the Cincinnati Reds in 1972, and before that, calling games for the Pacific Coast League’s Hawaii Islanders. He became a national broadcaster with ABC’s Monday Night Baseball and Michaels became the voice for several dramatic World Series campaigns, including the 1989 Earthquake series in Northern California.
“I can only think I grew up with a rabbit’s foot in my pocket,” Michaels said.
Michaels said Vin Scully was one of the biggest influences of his career and he credited his time at Arizona State for launching him into baseball.
A few years later, Tommy Lasorda claimed credit for discovering Michaels, when he listened to radio broadcasts after getting thrown out of four straight games.
“It was a little bit embellished, but I wasn’t going to stop him,” Michaels said.
Known as “the Hawk,” Harrelson was an icon on the south side of Chicago, calling White Sox games for a generation. He had a nine-year career as a right fielder and first baseman and even before he retired, he was hosting a local TV show, “The Hawk’s Nest,” in Cleveland. He became known for being a White Sox homer, and his “Hawkisms” are legendary, including “You can put it on the board!”
“This is my favorite toast,” he said. “I gave this at Arnold Palmer’s 80th birthday. … When you take a man’s money, you take a man’s money. But when you take a man’s time, you take a part of his life. I want to thank you all for all the parts for eight decades of your time.”
The former J.G. Taylor Spink Award, now renamed the BBWAA Career Excellence Award went to two writers who spent their lives writer for passionate fanbases. The late Nick Cafardo, the 2020 winner, wrote about Boston sports for three decades, helping to define the New England Patriots dynasty and the Boston Red Sox World Series wins. He wrote his weekly Sunday Notes for 15 years without missing a column.
Ben Cafardo accepted the BBWAA Award for his dad, who died in 2019.
“He was a classic ball writer,” Ben Cafardo said.
“This recognition, which is the highest that any baseball writer can receive, would be a tremendous source of pride to him,” he said.
Dick Kaegel, the 2021 winner, has been covering the St. Louis Cardinals and Kansas City Royals for even longer, with his first World Series call coming in 1964. He spoke about the great life he had covering St. Louis legends like Stan Musial and writing about World Series championships. He said sharing the stage with Cafardo was a great honor.
“Of all the things I have done, being a baseball beat writer was the most rewarding,” he said.
Kaegel started at his local newspaper when he was 16.
“I was hired for the summer and for my senior year, the News-Democrat arraigned for Bellville Township High School to let me work for the newspaper in the morning and attend class in the afternoon,” he said.
Montgomery posthumously became the fifth person to win the Hall’s Buck O’Neil Lifetime Achievement Award, for lifetime service to the game. A former owner, president and general manager of the Philadelphia
“Dave Montgomery was truly beloved throughout the game,” Manfred said.
Manfred said Montgomery’s loyalty to the Phillies was rare, saying he rarely missed a game and always kept a scorecard.
“I know everyone who was fortunate enough to be a part of his life are forever grateful for the special example that Dave set for all of us,” he said.
Montgomery also died in 2019. His widow, Lyn Montgomery, accepted the award, saying the silver lining was is he had been alive he never would have spoken about himself while accepting the award, whereas she could sing his praises.
“Integrity is what set David apart from others,” she said.
The award show was recorded Saturday, July 24, and broadcast Sunday on the MLB Network and www.mlb.com, as well as on the Hall’s social media platforms.
The 2021 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 8, on the grounds of the Clark Sports Center in the town of Middlefield, will honor 2020 inductees Derek Jeter, Marvin Miller, Ted Simmons and Larry Walker. The Induction Ceremony will be broadcast on MLB Network.