Current on-air Rays talent, DeWayne Staats, Joe Magrane, Todd Kalas, and Dave Wills are in the running for the prestigious award, as are former broadcasters Paul Olden and Charlie Slowes.
Balloting for the 2009 Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasting excellence begins on Sept. 1, with the top three vote-getters by the fans automatically qualifying for the 10-member ballot that will be formulated by a 20-member committee and announced on Oct. 6. The winner will be announced on Dec. 9 at the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas and will receive the award during the induction ceremony July 26, 2009, at the Clark Sports Center in Cooperstown, N.Y.
Fans may vote for up to three of their favorites among 210 broadcasters eligible in balloting conducted exclusively on the Hall's Web site, baseballhalloffame.org, which will carry biographical sketches of each candidate. Fans can vote up to once a day throughout September. Results will be announced when voting concludes Sept. 30. There will be no updates provided during the voting period.
Dave Niehaus, the long-time voice of the Seattle Mariners, was the recipient at the 2008 induction in July, which marked the 30th anniversary of the award that was first presented to legendary figures Mel Allen and Red Barber. The award was named for the late broadcaster, National League president, Commissioner and Hall of Famer. Frick was a driving force behind the creation of the Hall of Fame and helped foster the relationship between radio and the game of baseball.
The three broadcasters named to the ballot last year through online voting were the Cincinnati Reds' Joe Nuxhall, the Oakland Athletics' Bill King and Hall of Fame second baseman Joe Morgan of "Sunday Night Baseball." The other nominees selected by the 20-member committee were former "Game of the Week" broadcasters Dizzy Dean and Tony Kubek; play-by-play voices Tom Cheek (Toronto Blue Jays), Ken Coleman (Cleveland Indians, Chicago White Sox, Boston Red Sox), Dave Van Horne (Montreal Expos, Florida Marlins) and broadcasting legend Graham McNamee (NBC), who called 12 World Series beginning in 1923.
Staats, who has been the voice of the Rays since the team's inaugural season in 1998, began his Major League play-by-play career as the radio and TV voice of the Astros from 1977-84, then called radio and TV action for the Cubs from 1985-89. He was the lead play-by-play announcer for the Yankees and also spent the 1994-95 seasons calling action for The Baseball Network (ABC/NBC).
Staats began his career as a sports reporter for WSIE Radio while a student at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville and began his baseball career as the radio voice of the Oklahoma City 89ers (1973-74).
Magrane, has 12 years experience in the booth, and has been the color analyst on the Rays' TV team beginning in 1998. He worked regional ESPN MLB games during the 1997 season prior to his tenure with the Rays.
Magrane served as a postgame reporter for the National League Championship Series in 2002 and provided color analysis for baseball coverage at the last three summer Olympic Games.
Magrane played 10 years in the Major Leagues, compiling a 56-67 record and reaching a World Series with the Cardinals in 1987. He finished third in the National League Cy Young voting in 1989 after posting 18 wins.
Kalas has 16 years experience after spending the last 11 with the Rays, serving as the team's pregame host and in-game reporter. Kalas has worked on the radio broadcast teams of both the Mets and Phillies and does college basketball, football, baseball and arena football play-by-play. He is the son of 2002 Ford C. Frick winner Harry Kalas.
Wills has 15 years experience and is in his fourth season with the Rays. He came to Tampa Bay from Chicago where he was the pre- and postgame host for the White Sox, as well as the secondary play-by-play announcer for John Rooney. He also served as radio voice of University of Illinois-Chicago men's basketball from 1997-2005 and hosted the Notre Dame football and men's basketball pre- and postgame shows on ESPN Radio 1000.
Olden logged 16 seasons of experience before retiring after the 2004 season, his seventh season in the Rays' radio booth. From 1994 to 1996, Olden called action for the Yankees on WPIX-TV, including the Yankees' world championship season of 1996.
Olden received his first big league job as a play-by-play voice of the Indians from 1988-89. He then served in the same capacity for the Angels in 1991. In addition, Olden has broadcast regional games for ESPN in 1991 and 1992. He earned a New York Emmy Award for best local sports coverage in 1993, and from 1994-2003, he served as the public address announcer at the Super Bowl.
Slowes has 11 years of experience after working for the Rays and the last three seasons in Washington as the Nationals' radio play-by-play announcer. He also served as the radio announcer for the NBA's Washington Bullets from 1987-1997 and worked at KMOX Radio in St. Louis for three years (1984-86), during which time he was exposed to broadcasting greats Bob Costas and Jack Buck while working in a variety of on-air functions for St. Louis University, the St. Louis Blues, the St. Louis baseball Cardinals and the St. Louis football Cardinals.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.