It takes about 3.5 hours to get from New York City to Cooperstown, but this upstate New York hamlet is a-whole-nother world. I have been there only once. It was the Baseball Hall of Fame induction weekend in1999. Do you remember who went in that year? It was Nolan Ryan and George Brett (among others) and it was the largest crowd ever to gather for the induction ceremonies. Until this year! This year the class includes Frank Thomas, Joe Torre, Bobby Cox and a couple of guys who pitched for his Braves, Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux.
None of them are the reason I am going back this weekend. I am going to celebrate with my friend Eric Nadel. Eric has been honored with the Ford C. Frick award given to the best baseball broadcasters in the game, and he’ll be inducted into the Hall. In his 36th year of broadcasting Ranger games, Eric joins an elite class that includes Vin Scully, Marty Brennaman and my hero growing, up Ernie Harwell. I remember how Ernie’s voice said summer time had arrived. It meant warm days, late nights and baseball.
Eric had almost didn’t make into the baseball booth. He cut his broadcasting teeth on hockey. You might remember him as the voice of the Dallas Blackhawks. When that team packed up and moved to Canada, Eric considered doing what his parents really wanted him to do; go to law school. Thank goodness he didn’t.
Here are a few things you don’t know about Eric. He has a friend in every city. It doesn’t matter where we go with the Rangers, Eric has been there before and he has a local friend with whom he will dine. He also has friends all over the world, including Cuba which is not a place most Americans go. Eric goes to Cuba nearly every off-season to do humanitarian work and to visit his friends there, one of whom has made the trip to Cooperstown for the big weekend.
If you listen to Eric’s weekly sports-talk hit you know how much he loves music. He is also a part owner of a new bar in Dallas called Vagabond. He is charged with booking the musical guests there, a job he takes very seriously.
Finally, he is a food lover. I ask for his recommendations in every city. Two I will pass on to you – first is Henry’s Hunan in San Francisco. There are several locations, and Eric says if he was about to be executed, Henry’s would be his last meal. Then there is Faidley Seafood in Baltimore – the best crab cakes best I have ever had.
You won’t see much of Eric during the Hall of Fame ceremony on Sunday, he tells me his name will be announced and he will wave. His ceremony is Saturday, and we will bring you a full report from Cooperstown. And who knows? Maybe we will even find a great restaurant there.