Broadcaster Nadel humbled by HOF honor

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- Longtime Texas Rangers radio voice Eric Nadel continued to pinch himself Saturday, one day after he was inducted in the National Baseball Hall of Fame as the 2014 Ford C. Frick Award winner.

Nadel's enshrinement, along with that of The New Yorker writer Roger Angell, helped kick off a weekend full of Hall of Fame events. Former players Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux and Frank Thomas, along with former managers Tony La Russa, Joe Torre and Bobby Cox, will be enshrined Sunday.

Keeping such excellent baseball company has been a thrill for the 63-year-old Nadel, who has been on the microphone for 35 seasons with the Rangers.

"It's surreal," Nadel said Saturday. "It still seems like an out-of-body experience, like I'm dreaming the whole thing or observing this thing for somewhere else. Going into the Hall of Fame and seeing my picture up there next to all of the guys who I idolized, it's mind-blowing. I'm on cloud nine. That's the best way to put it."

Perhaps most satisfying of all for Nadel is that former Rangers pitcher and team CEO Nolan Ryan is on hand in Cooperstown to give his support.

"He hasn't been back since he was inducted in 1999," Nadel said. "This is the first time he's come back. The fact that I'm being honored is one of the reasons, and that's kind of mind-blowing. I know this sort of thing isn't really his deal, but he's here, and I'm tremendously flattered that I am part of it."

You can't walk a block in this quaint little town this weekend without running into a Hall of Famer, and those who were previously honored have welcomed Nadel with open arms.

"A number of Hall of Famers have made a point of coming up to me," he said. "Wade Boggs was the first guy that did it. Wade Boggs was a guy I used to interview every year. He was such a good talker. I got to know him. He sought me out to come over and say congratulations."

And to think, Nadel's life in baseball almost never happened. He admitted to reading any book about baseball he could get his hands on when he was young, but after a unique chance to see a baseball broadcast up close, he committed himself to hockey instead.

"When I was in high school, I got to sit with the Chicago announcers, Bob Elson and Red Rush," Nadel said. "I went to a program at Northwestern University, after my junior year in high school, for kids interested in broadcasting. They arranged for me to sit with those guys during a doubleheader in August of 1967."

The circumstances painted a troubling scene for Nadel.

"The White Sox were terrible, and these guys [Elson and Rush] weren't terribly interested in the game," Nadel said. "And it was a long doubleheader, it was hot. They were all suited up because they were going on the road after the game. It didn't seem like they were into it, and it seemed really hard do. I kept thinking 'How do you do this?'"

Hockey began to call to the New York native, until fate intervened.

"I always loved Marv Albert doing the [New York] Rangers games, and I thought that is what I wanted to do," Nadel said. "Then as it turned out, I got offered a Major League Baseball job while I was still doing minor league hockey, and I had to take it. I'm glad it worked out the way it did."