Jack Graney named 2022 Frick Award winner
(COOPERSTOWN, NY) – Jack Graney, who followed up a 14-year big league career with the Cleveland Indians by becoming a legendary Northeast Ohio broadcasting voice, has been selected as the 2022 recipient of the Ford C. Frick Award, presented annually for excellence in broadcasting by the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
Graney will be recognized posthumously during the Hall of Fame Awards Presentation as part of Hall of Fame Weekend, July 22-25, 2022. Graney becomes the 46th winner of the Frick Award, as he earned the highest point total in a vote conducted by the Hall of Fame’s 16-member Frick Award Committee.
The final ballot featured broadcasters whose main contributions were realized as broadcasting pioneers, identified as the Broadcasting Beginnings ballot. The eight finalists were: Pat Flanagan, Waite Hoyt, France Laux, Rosey Rowswell, Hal Totten, Ty Tyson, Bert Wilson and Graney.
“Jack Graney was a pioneer in the broadcast industry, not only establishing a model for game descriptions in the earliest days of radio but also for blazing a trail for former players to transition to the broadcast booth,” said Josh Rawitch, President of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. “In calling Cleveland’s games for parts of three decades after a successful playing career of his own, Graney brought the exploits of future Hall of Famers like Earl Averill, Lou Boudreau, Larry Doby, Bob Feller and Satchel Paige into homes throughout Ohio’s North Coast, becoming as much a part of the fabric of the team as the players themselves. His attention to detail and love for the game made Jack Graney one of the National Pastime’s radio legends.”
Born June 10, 1886, in St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada, Graney was a gifted left-handed amateur pitcher who joined the Cleveland Naps in 1908, pitching two games before spending most of the rest of the season in the minors. Converted to the outfield the next season, Graney returned to Cleveland in 1910 – becoming a regular for the next decade. A disciplined hitter, Graney led the American League in walks in both 1917 and 1919 and appeared in three games off the bench in the 1920 World Series, helping Cleveland defeat Brooklyn for the title.
Graney made history as the first to bat against Babe Ruth in the big leagues (1914) and the first 20th century big league player to appear at bat with a number on his uniform (1916). Ending his big league career in 1922 with 1,178 hits and a .354 on-base percentage, Graney went into the automotive sales industry.
Then in 1932, WHK-AM began broadcasting Cleveland games and hired Graney, who is now widely considered to be the first former big league player to broadcast a major league game. For the next 22 years – except for 1945, when network radio broadcasts pre-empted local programming – Graney called games for a variety of Cleveland stations, including WHK, WGAR, WJW and WERE. Teaming with several partners, including 1997 Frick Award winner Jimmy Dudley, Graney’s meticulous descriptions of the action on the field and the elements of the ballpark brought the game to life for those who had never been to League Park or Cleveland Stadium.
Graney called the World Series for a national audience in 1935 and also broadcast that year’s All-Star Game in Cleveland.
He passed away on April 20, 1978.
The 16-member Frick Award voting electorate, comprised of the 13 living recipients and three broadcast historians/columnists, includes Frick honorees Marty Brennaman, Bob Costas, Ken Harrelson, Jaime Jarrín, Tony Kubek, Tim McCarver, Denny Matthews, Al Michaels, Jon Miller, Eric Nadel, Vin Scully, Bob Uecker and Dave Van Horne, and historians/columnists David J. Halberstam (historian), Barry Horn (formerly of the Dallas Morning News) and Curt Smith (historian).
The list of eight Frick Award finalists was constructed by a subcommittee of the electorate that included Brennaman, Halberstam, Matthews, Nadel and Smith. The Ford C. Frick Award is voted upon annually and is named in memory of the sportswriter, radio broadcaster, National League president and baseball commissioner. Frick was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1970. The complete list of Frick Award recipients can be found here.
As established by the Board of Directors, criteria for selection is as follows: “Commitment to excellence, quality of broadcasting abilities, reverence within the game, popularity with fans, and recognition by peers.” To be considered, an active or retired broadcaster must have a minimum of 10 years of continuous major league broadcast service with a ball club, network, or a combination of the two.
The Frick Award election cycle rotates annually among Major League Markets (team-specific announcers); National Voices (broadcasters whose contributions were realized on a national level); and Broadcasting Beginnings (early team voices and pioneers of baseball broadcasting). This cycle repeats every three years, with the Major League Markets ballot to be reviewed in the fall of 2022 and the National Voices ballot to be reviewed in the fall of 2023.