When the phrase “Yankee tradition” is uttered, fans immediately think of the great players that have made the team baseball’s preeminent franchise. However, there has been another area that has been a source of Yankee tradition: the broadcast booth.
Since they started broadcasting games in 1939, the Yankees have had 11-that’s right,11-announcers whose work earned the Ford C. Frick Award from the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York for their work behind the mike.
The first two recipients were the two greatest announcers in team history, Mel Allen and Red Barber in 1978. The third was Russ Hodges. Yes, THAT Russ Hodges. He did Yankee games for three years prior to joining the Giants as their full-time1announcer in 1949. He was honored in 1980. Curt Gowdy began his Hall of Fame career with the Yankees from 1949 to 1950. He was honored in 1984.
The following year, the honor went to a man named Buck Canel, who did Yankee games on Spanish language radio station WHOM in New York. Arch McDonald-the first Yankee announcer in 1939-got the call in 1999. Jerry Coleman and Joe Garagiola would soon follow. Tony Kubek made history with his 2009 election as the first analyst to win the Frick Award.
Tim McCarver, who did Yankee games from 1999-2001, won the award in 2012. The 11th and final Yankee announcer to earn the Frick Award was a man named Al Helfer. He worked for eight teams during his career, including one year as the Yankee announcer in 1945 while Mel Allen was serving in World War II.
So just as those playing for the Yankees, the people who broadcast Yankee games now and in the future have a long, rich tradition to follow themselves.