Big congratulations to Denny Matthews, the Voice of the Kansas City Royals, for winning the 2007 Ford C. Frick Award and earning a spot in the Baseball Hall of Fame. When I first saw the nominees for this year's award, the other two big names that really jumped out were Tony Kubek and Ken "Hawk" Harrelson.
This will be Matthews 39th season with the Royals. Denny isn't on anyone's list of all-time greatest baseball announcers. In fact, as a life-long Royals fan, I'd say the greatest compliment I can give Matthews is that he's consistently competent. The word "ordinary" would often come to mind, but never "bad" or "horrible" (like I've called his current partner, Ryan Levebvre, many, many times). Matthews is getting this award and recognition for his longevity and association with one team for so long.
The Kansas City Royals baseball tradition runs much deeper than Denny Matthews, a guy who I'm sure the throngs of fans who show up in Cooperstown in July for Cal Ripken, Jr. And Tony Gwynn won't even recognize. I guess it's appropriate that Matthews goes into the Hall the same year that Ripken and Gwynn are. It was also announced last week that Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch won the 2007 J.G. Taylor Spink Award for excellence in baseball writing. Hummel, like Matthews, Ripken and Gwynn, spent his entire career with one organization (in his case, covering the Cardinals).
I'm not familiar with Hummel's work, but I've been with Denny from day one of my life. Ripken's major claim to fame is the consecutive games streak, but the guy did win two AL MVP's. Gwynn was a much better hitter than people are giving him credit for. I can recall three defining moments in Ripken's career (that jog around Camden Yards after breaking Gehrig's streak in 1995, catching the final out of the 1983 World Series, and hitting that batting practice pitch that Chan Ho Park threw him in the 2001 All-Star game). Other than the first moment, the others aren't exactly awe inspiring. Gwynn could have given .400 a run if not for the strike shortened season of 1994, but if Aunt had a penis she'd be my Uncle. There's really no real "moment" from Gwynn's career. And similar to Gwynn, Denny Matthews has no signature moment from his broadcasting career. Not the home run that George Brett hit off of Gossage to seal the pennant for the Royals in 1980. Not the Pine Tar Incident (that was more for TV the Yankee announcers, and yes we've got the whole thing for you below -- we can't really that this one from radio because it had to be seen to be believed). Not the final out of the 1985 World Series or even the infamous blown Don Denkinger call. None of these signature Royals moments are defined by calls Denny Matthews made, which is odd for a Hall of Fame broadcaster. About the only one I can remember with Matthews voice that rings a bell is Brett's final at bat in 1993, and that's only because the game wasn't televised in our area.
Nevertheless, I'm happy for Denny Matthews, who I've heard more than any other broadcaster in my life. He deserves a spot in Cooperstown, if only because he's documented the entire history of the Kansas City Royals, and not many give this franchise the historic credit it deserves. It's almost like the 1970's or '80's never happened. So until Johnny Damon goes into Cooperstown as a Royal (which I'll argue over in 7 years) and Alex Gordon gets inducted 25 years later, we'll have to settle for two Royals getting baseball's greatest honor.
Oh, by the way, turns out Billy Crystal really is the rat bastard we've always thought he was. This is a great read, and has a great follow read after. So take that Yankee fans: One of your most beloved and famous fans is a major league jackass. And you've got nobody representing in Cooperstown this summer. And A-Rod is finished sucking Jeter's cock. Everything's right in the world.
Now the real treat. The 1983 Pine Tar Incident, in all it's glory. My favorite part of this video isn't Brett going Lou Ferrigno on the umpires, but Gaylord Perry and Hal McRae playing hot potato with that bat all the way up the visitors dugout. That Gaylord Perry, he always knew a thing or two about getting away with something. But keep your eyes on McRae. He was due up next in the lineup, but rather than congratulate Brett rounding the bases, he keeps his eyes on what the fuck those umpires are doing with that bat. You then see him go over to Geroge in the dugout as if to say, "I think you went with too much hot sauce on the taco", and then he made sure that when the shit went down, SOMEBODY grabbed that bat. The Yankee announcers credit Gaylord for taking the bat away from the umps, but we few Royals fans know the real truth, and if you watch closely, you can see it. McRae went out as if to restrain Brett, only to grab the bat, toss it down to Gaylord Perry, who made sure nobody important got it. I also love that bastard Craig Nettles trying to come in as if HE'S going to be the one to calm a madman down. Just a classic moment, and one that Denny Matthews isn't going to Cooperstown for (but that bat is believed to either be there, or with Hal McRae, nobody really knows for sure):