To broadcast over 6,500 major league games without ever being associated with a winner calls for a broadcaster with very special qualities: one who can charm and entertain his listeners, who is relaxed and reassuring over the air and who projects an unflappable demeanor—maintaining an even keel despite being surrounded by an atmosphere of disappointment and adversity. Such a person is By Saam, the 1990 recipient of the Ford C. Frick Award. Saam spent 38 seasons behind the mikes in Philadelphia without ever experiencing the thrill of a Shibe Park World Series … silently enduring the agony of frequent defeats.
As part of the golden age of radio, Saam began his career in 1938 describing the Athletics home games for WCAU. Broadcasters didn't travel in those days, so he took on the home games of the Phillies the following season. In the late '40s, when teams began to air road games as well, Saam remained with the A's out of loyalty to Connie Mack. When the Athletics moved to Kansas City following the 1954 season, he rejoined the Phillies and remained with them until his retirement in 1975.
During his illustrious career, Saam described 13 no-hitters, including Jim Bunning's perfect game against the New York Mets in 1964. A graduate of Texas Christian University, Saam also broadcast college and pro football, college and pro basketball and ice hockey. Despite the dual frustrations of empty dreams and empty seats, By Saam persevered to finally take his deserving place among the elite of his profession.
Saam passed away on Jan. 16, 2000.
1990 Ford C. Frick Award Winner By Saam (National Baseball Hall of Fame Library)