A couple of changes in next summer's Hall of Fame program. From the Cooperstown Crier's Eric Ahlqvist:
- Ford C. Frick and J.G. Taylor Spink are moving up in the National Baseball Hall of Fame Weekend lineup, but the annual New York-Penn League game at Doubleday Field has been released.
The Hall announced Tuesday that it will present its Frick and Spink awards -- for excellence in baseball broadcasting and writing, respectively -- at 4:30 p.m. July 23 at Doubleday Field in Cooperstown. The 2011 Induction Ceremony is slated for 1:30 p.m. July 24 at the Clark Sports Center.
In past years, winners of the Hall's annual media awards were honored during the Induction Ceremony. In July, Frick winner Dave Van Horne and Spink winner Bill Conlin will receive their awards during a special ceremony that will lead into the Parade of Legends, which featured 50 Hall of Famers in its inaugural run last year.
If you're wondering why the Hall of Fame would decouple the Frick Award and Spink Award winners from the other new Hall of Famers -- Pat Gillick, probably Bert Blyleven, and possibly Roberto Alomar or (less likely) Jeff Bagwell -- the answer's actually pretty simple ...
The Frick Award and Spink Award winners are not Hall of Famers.
I know this is a sensitive subject for a lot of people, and it gives me no pleasure to report that (for example) Dave Niehaus and Denny Matthews aren't actually in the Hall of Fame.
But they're not.
They're not enshrinees (into the Hall of Fame), but rather honorees (by the Hall of Fame). You might not think there's a difference and they might not, but the Hall of Fame is very careful to make the distinction in its literature and displays. Now, you might believe that broadcasters and writers do belong in the Hall of Fame, and I wouldn't try to convince you you're wrong. It's just that the Hall of Fame doesn't have any actual mechanism for putting them there.
Another dirty little secret ... You know those "wings" everybody talks about? The "broadcasters wing" and the "writers wing"?
They don't exist. Those are just metaphors, of a sort. Each honoree's name is engraved on a plaque that hangs in a small room just outside the Hall of Fame's research library.
None of this means the Frick Award winners weren't wonderful broadcasters, or the Spink Award winners weren't wonderful writers. Most of them were, and all of them ranked among the best in their fields for many years. But the Hall of Fame, the actual Hall of Fame, has been reserved almost exclusively for men who had some dramatic impact on the game played on the field. And for all their talents and their contributions, that just isn't writers and announcers.