Jon Miller’s baseball journey began in 1962 on an April night in San Francisco.
It has taken him Cooperstown, much to the surprise of the former 10-year-old Giants fan who worshiped the players – and the men who described their on-the-field heroics.
Miller, who has spent parts of five decades as the voice of five Major League Baseball teams and was the voice of ESPN’s national Sunday Night Baseball telecasts for 20 years, was selected as the 2010 recipient of the Ford C. Frick Award, presented annually for major contributions to baseball broadcasting.
“The first time I went to Candlestick Park was when my dad took me to a Giants/Dodgers game in 1962,” said Miller, a San Francisco native, of the April 16 Monday night game at Candlestick. “Well, from where we sat we could see down into the Giants broadcast booth. And my dad had a transistor radio with a little wire and earpiece, and throughout the game I’m listing to Lon Simmons and Russ Hodges.
“My dad said: ‘Why aren’t you watching the game?’ But to me, Russ and Lon were larger than life, as big as the biggest movie stars.”
Miller joined Simmons (2004) and Hodges (1980) as Frick Award winners.
Miller was born Oct. 11, 1951, in San Francisco, and began his broadcasting career in the Bay Area. In 1974, Miller landed a job as the play-by-play man for the Oakland A’s. During the 1970s, Miller held various broadcasting jobs in the Bay Area – ranging from hockey to soccer to basketball – before returning to Major League Baseball with the Texas Rangers’ radio crew in 1978. Miller moved to Boston in 1980 to take the Red Sox’s radio job, then went to Baltimore in 1983 to handle the Orioles’ radio duties. In Baltimore, he called the last out of the 1983 World Series as the Orioles captured their third Fall Classic title.
During his time with the Orioles, Miller worked on NBC-TV’s Game of the Week with Frick Award winners Joe Garagiola and Tony Kubek from 1986-89, then became ESPN’s voice of Sunday Night Baseball in 1990. In 1997, Miller returned home to become the “Voice of the Giants”.
“Going to Baltimore in 1983 not only ended up being one of the best things I ever did, but it was the best possible scenario for a new broadcaster from out of town because the team was outstanding,” Miller said. “It was the best thing that ever happened to me, and I thought I was going to be there for a long, long time.
“That didn’t work out, but I got the chance to come home to San Francisco. That’s like coming full circle.”
While in Baltimore, Miller was teamed with Joe Morgan on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball package in 1990.
2010 Ford C. Frick Award Winner Jon Miller - BL-9-2011-17 (Andy Kuno/National Baseball Hall of Fame Library)