Yes, listening to John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman announce a game can drive you up a wall. However, just like with our brothers and sisters, it’s all right for us to criticize/pick on them, but nobody else better try it! And, that brings me to want to stand up for John Sterling vs. the Baseball Hall of Fame.
In case you missed it, and it was easy to miss it since the announcement came right on the heels of the World Series, the Hall of Fame officially released its ballot for broadcasters.
And the nominees are…not John Sterling
The nominees for the Hall’s 2020 Ford C. Frick Award ballot are: Joe Castiglione, Jacques Doucet, Tom Hamilton, Ken Harrelson, Pat Hughes, Ned Martin, Mike Shannon, and another former Yankees’ broadcaster, Dewayne Staats. Each nominee is a team broadcaster (the 2021 award is for a network broadcaster).
The voters are past winners Marty Brennaman, Bob Costas, Jaime Jarrin, Tony Kubek, Denny Matthews, Tim McCarver, Jon Miller, Eric Nadel, Vin Scully, Bob Uecker, and Dave Van Horne. Former sports media columnist Barry Horn and historians Ted Patterson, Curt Smith and David J. Halberstam (the former broadcaster, not the late author) round out the voting committee.
It’s a disgrace that John Sterling isn’t on the ballot. Harrelson’s inclusion on the ballot makes me doubt the whole voting process. “The Hawk” is one of the WORST all-time announcers in the history of any sport. He was nearly unlistenable when he was part of the Yankees broadcast crew from 1987-1988. Sure, we laughed when he said “jelly leg” and “duck snort”…and then he went back to the Chicago White Sox and became an all-time clown.
It was the “good guys” (White Sox) vs. “bad guys” (opponents). He blurted out his trademark obnoxious call of “He gone” when a player struck out, and he so openly rooted for Chicago that he made Phil Rizzuto sound like he hated the Yankees. But, enough about that joke of a broadcaster.
It is High, it is Far…
Sterling isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but except for his daughter’s wedding and a recent bout of illness, he has been on the air every day since the Yankees made him their No. 1 voice in the radio booth in 1989.
He has added flair to a game that can drag on for hours with 6,000+ pitches thrown. Sterling’s trademark home run call – “It is high, it is far, it is gone! – is legendary. WFAN, ESPN, the MLB Network, etc., replay his calls on a regular basis.
And, of course, he upped his home run call to include homages to the players. “An A-Bomb for A-Rod” (Alex Rodriguez), “Never nervous, Yangervis” (Solarte), and “All Rise” (Aaron Judge) are just a few of his more memorable taglines.
What is a Yankees’ win without his boisterous call of “Yankees win…Thaaaaaaaaaaaa Yankeeeees win!”, especially in a postseason situation!
The 81-year old’s eyesight isn’t what it used to be and I’ve lost count how many times someone hit a “home run” that went foul or landed in an outfielder’s glove. But, his enthusiasm and love for the game has always been there. He’s a fabulous storyteller and he’s someone who’s not afraid to criticize a Yankees player or manager. He’s a great ambassador for the team as well.
Simply put, he’s an icon; one that deserves recognition in Baseball’s Hall of Fame. You can’t predict baseball, Suzyn, and you can’t predict the Hall of Fame, either.