Pat Hughes probably merited the Ford Frick Award simply for being on duty and keeping his composure as the only Chicago announcer ever to call a Cubs World Series clinching out.
After all, radio was in the hands of hobbyists and experimenters – the Marconis of the world — in 1908, the last Cubs world’s championship. Commercial radio did not start ’til 1920 and the first baseball game was not aired ’til the next year, in Pittsburgh.
But even if the Cubs had blown Game 7 in 2016, Hughes surely deserved the top broadcaster’s honor given out by the Hall of Fame for lifetime achievement. Few can match Hughes’ smooth-as-silk baseball voice or his wry, dry and sly sense of humor around boothmates such as the two Rons, Santo and Coomer.
Hughes beat out former Cubs colleague Steve Stone and a host of other contemporary announcers for the 2023 Award on Wednesday, Dec. 7, hard on the heels of his induction into the Cubs Hall of Fame under the left-field bleachers. He is truly one of the golden voices of our time.
We go back to his first season in Chicago in 1996, when Hughes had to maintain interest as the Cubs, a marginal contender at mid-season, lost 14 of their final 16. An announcer had to keep it interesting until the last out on the final day. As Harry Caray advised the newcomer then, a Cubs voice does not just sign up for winning seasons, which were then at a premium at Wrigley Field.
Those memories and more flowed in a phone conversation, the day after receiving his Ford Frick honor, that was as much congratulatory as interrogatory.
“It’s as good as it gets,” said Hughes, who said his emotions ranged from “shock” to being “on Cloud Nine. You work hard, you really don’t think about the award while you’re (on the air). It’s such a lofty achievement.”
In July 2012, Hughes was in Cooperstown for Ron Santo’s posthumous induction into the Hall of Fame.
STORYCategory Chicago Baseball History Feature, Chicago Baseball History News Tags Billy Williams, Bob Uecker, Chicago Cubs, Craig Lynch, Diamond Gems, Ford Frick Award, Hall of Fame, Jim Riggleman, Joe Castiglione, John Hughes, Leo Durocher, Lon Simmons, Lou Boudreau, Mark Grote, Pat Hughes, Ron Coomer, Ron Santo, San Francisco Giants, Sharon Pannozzo, Steve Stone, Vin Scully, Vince Lloyd, Wrigley Field