2016 Ford C. Frick Award Winner Graham McNamee
According to Red Barber, a longtime broadcaster for the Reds, Dodgers and Yankees, as well as the 1978 Frick Award winner, McNamee was the greatest sports announcer we ever had, adding “How he did what he did when he did…suddenly…completely unprepared…is to me a miracle.”
Regarded as the pioneer of sports announcers, McNamee set many broadcasting standards during his tenure. It wasn’t long after he began his radio announcing career that statisticians computed that the voice of McNamee had been heard for more hours by more human ears than any other voice in history.
Listeners to McNamee’s baseball broadcasts not only enjoyed his vivid description of the action on the field but also what was happening off it. In fact, McNamee once estimated that he used more than 10 times the number of words in an unabridged dictionary.
In his 1926 book “You’re on the Air,” McNamee described his baseball broadcasting style: “You must make each of your listeners, though miles from the spot, feel that he or she, too, is there with you in that press stand, watching the movements of the game, the color, and flags; the pop bottles thrown in the air…Gloria Swanson arriving in her new ermine coat; McGraw in his dugout, apparently motionless, but giving signals all the time.”
A contemporary in the field, Phillips Carlin, described McNamee’s voice as the most vibrant and vital in radio, adding, “For nearly 20 years it thrilled those who heard it. Things, places and people became alive in the homes of America when he spoke.”
When McNamee passed away at the age of 53 in 1942, The New York Times wrote, “He was voluble in extemporaneous description and narration of events that took place before his eyes while a live microphone was before him and he had developed a technique for portraying accurately and interestingly, in fluent language, the sights at fast-moving sports contests, exciting political gatherings and many other varied assignments.”