In my eyes, Dave Van Horne is a Hall of Famer.
Ford Frick Award winner Van Horne is being honored by the Baseball Hall of Fame this year. No, he is not an inductee. He will not have a plaque. However, I still think he has a Hall of Fame voice. I’ll never condemn a broadcaster who signs “HOF” with his award-winning year after.
For someone thinking that a Frick winner is common, consider this: the award began in 1978. Only one man has been honored each year. I think this puts Van Horne in select company.
Van Horne has been a baseball broadcast tradition since 1969. He sent me a reply I’ll treasure. I consider it a preview of the acceptance speech he’ll be making in Cooperstown later this year.
I asked the man who called the first Montreal Expos game in 1969 about his first place of employment, Jarry Park:
“A very unique ballpark, built in the corner of a huge municipal park facility, just north of the downtown area, north of Mount Royal. It really didn’t compare to other ballparks of that time (1969) but I guess, in a way, it was not unlike Colt .45 Stadium.”
Van Horne solved one mystery, in part.
“‘Up, Up and Away’ began in the 1970 season. ‘Stole’ the line from the 5th Dimension hit song. I don’t remember the first time I used it, but it probably would have been after a home run by Bob Bailey, Mack Jones, Coco Laboy or Rusty Staub. I’m just guessing here.”
Everyone ALWAYS asks baseball insiders to name an all-time all-star team. I wanted Van Horne to tell me the “go to” players who helped him take care of his business. In short, an all-time INTERVIEW team!
“Best interview subjects over the years. There was so many. Staub, Bobby Wine, Gary Sutherland, Ty Cline, Ron Fairly, Ron Hunt, Gene Mauch, Cal McLish and many other Expos. Making the short list of non-Expos: Johnny Bench, Pete Rose, Willie Stargell, Billy Williams, Ron Santo, Phil Niekro, Jerry Reuss, Steve Garvey, Willie McCovey, Tommy Lasorda, Danny Murtaugh, Felipe Alou, Buck Rodgers and many, many others to numerous to mention here.”
Could you tell someone why you’re a baseball fan? Let this award-winning Marlins ambassador go first. Sense the gratitude and awe in Van Horne’s heart-felt assessment of the sport:
“I’ve always loved the game. I’ve enjoyed being in the company of so many wonderful people, on and off the field. Every day, every game, a new adventure. No one knows what’ll happen one pitch to the next. Strong, fast, gifted athletes playing a game that requires the mastery of so many skills; who could ask for anything more than to be able to watch them play the game, every day, every season, for a 43-year career (and counting).”
To borrow from another hit song, in Van Horne style, I second that emotion.
Tomorrow: Pat Gillick, baseball’s newest Hall of Famer, shares his roots.