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Columnist
Thumping the tub to put Hughes, Stone on broadcast ballot
By Ted Cox | Daily Herald Columnist
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Published: 9/11/200 3:49 PM

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What good is a newspaper columnist - even a sports columnist - who doesn't go off on a crusade now and then?

Don't answer that. I get enough e-mail from people wondering where to find "Regis & Kelly" on TV.

But do go straight to your computer (if you're not there already, you cheapskate kids you; buy a paper why don't cha) and go to the National Baseball Hall of Fame Web site at baseballhall.org and answer its call for votes in balloting for the Ford C. Frick Award.

As I explained last week, the Frick Award goes annually to a deserving (or not) baseball broadcaster. Harry Caray, Jack Brickhouse, Bob Elson, Vin Scully, Bob Prince, Mel Allen, Bob Uecker, Harry Kalas, Red Barber: all Frick Award winners. Unfortunately, so is Milo Hamilton, which means there will always be a dunderhead who insists that Joe Carter is qualified to be inducted.

Now, first things first. There will also always be some stickler who insists broadcasters and their print brethren, who receive the J.G. Taylor Spink Award, are not actually inducted into Cooperstown.

It's true; they're not. Instead, it's commonly said that they've entered the broadcasters' wing of the Hall, as if they went in the side door with the hired help.

Yet I don't care. Caray, Brickhouse, Elson, Scully: They're all Hall of Famers to my way of thinking. And I maintain we have at least two other deserving Hall of Famers in the broadcast booth in this town right now (three if you count Ron Santo as a player, which you should), with more to follow.

That's where you and me and my crusade come in.

Baseball fans are being encouraged this month to vote online for three deserving Frick nominees. Three of the 10 finalists who will then be submitted in December to a special committee, consisting of previous Frick winners and experts such as Bob Costas. They'll choose a single Frick Award winner for next summer. The Seattle Mariners' Dave Niehaus got it this year.

Allow me to place in nomination the names of Pat Hughes, of the Cubs' WGN 720-AM, and the White Sox' Steve Stone, of WSCR 670-AM and formerly of the Cubs and WGN Channel 9.

Hughes is a rock-solid play-by-play announcer with a voice as golden as the summer sun. He worked alongside Uecker in Milwaukee, but he has flourished with the Cubs. No other announcer has the precision and wry humor to make Santo work as well as he does as a mercurial barometer of a color man. Hughes deserves to be a finalist, but the Cooperstown powers have not selected him yet, and neither have the fans.

Nothing would please me more than to see Santo and Hughes inducted as player and broadcaster next summer.

But I'd settle right now for Stone. He has been the most eloquent, knowledgeable and prescient color analyst for at least two decades now, and has melded with Caray as well as with Ed Farmer. He is absolute Hall of Fame material.

(Not to pick on Lawrence Holmes again in his nascent days as a radio host on the Score, but Stone would not be the first color man to win the Frick; that would be Joe Garagiola, who filled that role alongside Caray on Cardinals radio broadcasts and later with Curt Gowdy on NBC.)

So get thee to the Internet, Chicago baseball fans. Last year it took only about 6,000 votes for Joe Morgan to get on the ballot, riding on the coattails of the late Joe Nuxhall in heavy voting from Cincinnati.

Farmer and Ken Harrelson, who made the finalists a few years ago, are also on the ballot, and I'm not stopping anyone from voting for them. But I have to admit I cast my third vote for Jon Miller of ESPN and the San Francisco Giants.

In any case, this is Chicago, so vote with pride like the Chicagoans you are early and often (although no more than once a day; the Web site keeps track).

If we can put Kosuke Fukudome in the All-Star Game, by the baseball gods we can put Hughes and Stone in the Hall of Fame.

In the air

Remotely interesting: Those wondering why the Cubs' Len Kasper and Bob Brenly and the White Sox' Darrin Jackson aren't on the fans' Frick Award ballot, it's because there's an eligibility requirement to have 10 straight years of broadcast service. DJ could be eligible next year. Kasper has seven years of service time and could be eligible after the 2011 season. Brenly gets no credit for his earlier Cubs tenure and has been in the Cubs' TV booth four years since leaving the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The Squad Squad is here to report WLS Channel 7 sports anchor Jeff Blanzy to the Department of Redundancy Department for calling an Ohio State player "a new BMOC on campus" last weekend.

End of the dial: The production staff of ESPN Radio's Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic morning show has put together a pretty good Lou Piniella song parody on "It Had to Be Lou." It's being played on their WMVP 1000-AM morning show and through the day on the station. Let's hope it still sounds good in a month and a half.

Ozzie Guillen has a typically unfettered interview in this week's edition of The Sporting News. My favorite line concerns A.J. Pierzynski: "You play against A.J., you hate him. You play with A.J., you hate him a little less." Ah, that one never gets old.