The Red Sox’ storied tradition includes those who tell us about all of the memorable on-field moments right as they’re happening.
Curt Gowdy, Ken Coleman, Ned Martin, Jon Miller, and Jim Woods are some of the legendary voices in Red Sox lore, some of the best ever to call a baseball game in any market and via any medium.
Yet only two broadcasters with Red Sox ties — Gowdy, who called their games from 1951-65 before becoming a national star at NBC Sports, and Miller, who spent the 1980-82 seasons alongside Coleman in the Red Sox booth — have received the Ford C. Frick Award, presented annually by the Baseball Hall of Fame to a broadcaster for “his contributions to baseball.’’
Mel Allen and Red Barber were the first two recipients in 1978. A single winner has been selected in each year following, meaning that 43 broadcasters have received the honor. It’s still a fairly exclusive club.
Even still, Martin (who called Red Sox games from 1961-92, first on radio through 1978 and then TV from ’79 on) and Coleman (1966-74 on television, 1979-89 on radio) already rate as oversights. That’s how good they were, how smooth, how synonymous with Red Sox summers.
Heck, Coleman deserves to make it on one chill-inducing call alone, during rookie pitcher Billy Rohr’s improbable quest for a no-hitter during the magical summer of 1967: “[Yastrzemski] dives . . . and makes a TREMENDOUS catch!’’
The Hall of Fame has a chance to right one of those oversights on Dec. 11, when the Frick winner will be announced at the Winter Meetings in San Diego.
Martin is among the eight finalists, who also include current Red Sox radio voice Joe Castiglione, Ken Harrelson (also a former Sox broadcaster in the ’70s but best known for his time with the White Sox), Jacques Doucet, Pat Hughes, Tom Hamilton, Mike Shannon, and Dewayne Staats. Martin is the only candidate that is deceased.
Coleman, who has been a finalist in the past, is not this year. The Frick award has three categories that rotate every three years: current major league markets (team-specific announcers, which is this year’s category), national voices, and broadcasting beginnings. Coleman has been a candidate in this year’s category.
Castiglione, ever gracious, said he was happy to be nominated but recognizes that some Red Sox broadcasters of the past remain overdue.
“It is quite an honor. They’re all worthy candidates, so it’s sort of a long shot, but it’s nice to be mentioned. It’s very gratifying,’’ said Castiglione, who has been in the Red Sox radio booth since 1983.
He worked for seven years with Coleman, his mentor who helped bring Castiglione to Boston from Cleveland. He was also good friends with Martin, with whom he traveled for a decade when Martin was doing TV.
“I would love to see them both honored,’’ said Castiglione. “They both deserve it, and they’ve both been nominated before.’’
Jerry Remy, who grew up listening to Martin on the radio and broke in as a broadcaster alongside him in 1988, said he hopes this is the year.
“I have no idea how they go about voting for this,’’ said Remy. “But I’m really surprised he’s not in there already when I look at some of the names that are in. I hope that he gets in.’’
The 14-person committee that decides the honoree is made up of 11 past winners — among them Vin Scully, Bob Costas, and Bob Uecker — one media writer, and three baseball broadcasting historians.
Remy said Martin was a product of a mostly bygone era, one that should be appreciated.
“I used to listen to all the games on the radio as a kid growing up,’’ he said. “They weren’t on TV much in those days. We used to hear him a lot. One of the big thrills for me was when I was with the Angels and we came to Boston and he wanted to interview me on the pregame show. That was a thrill for me. Holy [expletive], Ned Martin wants to interview me.
“There were guys in those days where you turned the game on and you knew immediately who the announcer was. The voice was so familiar. You knew that when you turned on the Red Sox game, you’d get Ned Martin, or Jim Woods, or Ken Coleman. We still have that here with Joe [Castiglione], who is so familiar, but now in a lot of places, so many guys are a dime a dozen.
“You turn them on and they all sound the same. There are certain events that you turn on, like with Doc Emrick for example with hockey, you turn him on, right away you know it’s going to be a good hockey game. That’s how I felt about Ned.’’
Martin was part of Red Sox broadcasts for 32 years. The 2020 season will be Remy’s 33d, but he remembers how kind Martin was to him as a fledgling broadcaster just a few years removed from the playing field.
“It was great for me to work with a guy like him right out of the chute,’’ said Remy. “Because when you’re a guy like me with no experience at all, and you’re working with someone who had been doing that job so well for so many years and whose personality is so laid-back, it made it much easier. He was really great, even though he was getting older then. I think he should be in there [as a Frick honoree], and I’m kind of surprised he’s not.”