Former Major League Commissioner Ford Frick '15 Remembered for Key Role in Creating Baseball Hall of Fame
June 16, 2003
June 16, 2003, Greencastle, Ind. - "Every year, hundreds of thousands of tourists flock to Cooperstown (population 2,300) to see the National Baseball Hall of Fame, which formally opened on June 12, 1939," begins an article by Bill Deane in the Daily Star of Oneonta, New York. "Those that take time to read the plaque inscriptions will find one for Ford Christopher Frick, listing him as 'Founder of Baseball Hall of Fame.'" The story states that "Ford Frick was born in Indiana in 1894, and graduated from DePauw University there." Frick, a 1915 graduate of DePauw, served as commissioner of Major League Baseball from 1951 to 1965. A member of DePauw's Athletic Hall of Fame, he died in 1978. (pictured is Frick's 1960 Fleer baseball card)
In the 1930's, when some proposed building a national baseball museum in Cooperstown, New York, Frick, who was National League president at the time, "offered 'the fullest cooperation in any project you may evolve.' It was Frick who conceived the idea of a Hall of Fame as part of the museum, and who sold the idea to the baseball establishment."
Frick -- who in his lifetime also played semi-pro ball, and was a teacher, journalist and broadcaster -- "is probably most famous for something he never did: putting an asterisk on Roger Maris' 1961 home run record," Deane writes. "Frick did decree that 'some distinctive mark' accompany any record set with the benefit of a longer schedule, and New York writer Dick Young suggested an asterisk. But, no such mark ever actually accompanied the record in either of the leading record books, the Sporting News' One for the Book, or the Elias Sports Bureau's Little Red Book of Baseball. Each had only the footnote, 'If the accomplishment was directly benefited by an increase of scheduled games the record will be annotated with the phrase: (162-game schedule).'"
Since 1978, the Ford C. Frick Award has been awarded to a broadcaster for his or her major contributions to baseball. The winners are selected by a committee of baseball executives and media personnel and the award is given during the annual hall of fame induction ceremonies. Winners have included Mel Allen, Harry Caray, Curt Gowdy, Vin Scully, Jack Brickhouse and Marty Brennaman.