The 1999 recipient of the Ford C. Frick Award was Arch McDonald. A radio pioneer who was highly respected for his indelible voice, honesty and easy-going southern style, the colorful McDonald reigned as the voice of the Washington Senators for 22 years.
McDonald began his broadcast career with the Senators class A minor league club, the Chattanooga Lookouts. Clark Griffith, the Senators president, brought the youthful McDonald to Washington in 1934. Calling the action on WJSV and later on WTOP, the Arkansas native regaled Senators' fans with signature adages such as "ducks on the pond" (runners on base), "right down Broadway" (a pitch cutting the plate), and "there she goes Mrs. Murphy" (a Senators home run). One of his most famous epigrams was "they cut down the old pine tree," which followed any number of Senators exploits on the field. It was McDonald who pinned the nickname "The Yankee Clipper" on the graceful Yankee outfielder Joe DiMaggio.
After his first five years in the nation's capital, McDonald accepted an opportunity to move to New York, becoming the "Voice of the Yankees" in 1939. His assistant on Yankee broadcasts was budding young announcer, Mel Allen. A country boy at heart, New York City was not the ideal fit for McDonald, and the following year he returned to Washington, where he spent the next 17 years as the familiar "Voice of the Senators." His popularity grew to new heights in his second stint in Washington, especially when he began recreating Senators road games at a drugstore just three blocks from the White House. Described as the "Rembrandt of Recreation," McDonald drew overflow crowds in the drugstore with his inventive and often ad-libbed broadcasts, using the Western Union wire as his only guide.
McDonald's broadcast career with the Senators came to a close after the 1956 season due to a change in the club's advertising sponsorship. He also broadcast Redskins football games, and it was after calling a road game in New York on October 16, 1960, that the 59-year-old McDonald died of a heart attack on the train back to Washington.
1999 Ford C. Frick Award Winner Arch McDonald - BL-1280-99 (National Baseball Hall of Fame Library)