Kubek, Peters won't be at loss for words
Frick, Spink Award recipients get ready for big speech
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- Tony Kubek will enter the Hall of Fame on Sunday because of his gift for gab, and Nick Peters is getting his due for his prolific ability to communicate with words.
Yet that doesn't mean Kubek -- this year's recipient of the Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasting excellence -- is undaunted by having to speak in front of the thousands of fans who will be at the induction.
And it also doesn't mean that Peters -- selected as the J.G. Taylor Spink Award for excellence in print journalism -- thinks it will be as natural to speak to fans as it was to write for them for so long.
Both men, humbled by the honor they have received, have found the preparation a bit of a challenge.
"First of all, I'm not a speaker," said Kubek. "When I was in school, I would tell my teacher I didn't know the lesson rather than stand up and have to recite it. Is that a phobia? I don't know what you call it. I just don't like to do it."
And therefore, don't look for Kubek -- familiar to baseball fans in the 1970s and 80s as the color commentator on NBC's Game of the Week -- to be making eye contact with a piece of paper while addressing the masses. Instead, you will probably get what Kubek always provided to his viewers -- off-the-cuff analysis.
"I haven't written a speech yet," Kubek said. "Do I have some thoughts? I stay awake nights [thinking about it]. I see some words. But I don't know if I'm going to be able to put them together.
"Basically, you know, Sparky Anderson, my philosopher friend, grabbed me yesterday and said, 'I've got something for you. Just be yourself.' I said, 'What self am I going to be, Sparky, when I get up there? Am I going to babble? Probably. Am I going to tear up? Probably.' And the other thing is, I haven't written the speech. I have some thoughts, but they haven't crystallized yet. Believe me, I don't have much time yet. The other one [Sparky said] was, 'Don't forget to thank your wife."'
Peters spent the eve of the induction ceremony keeping himself busy rather than focusing on receiving an award he never once considered winning during his 47 years of covering the San Francisco Giants.
"I'm trying not to think about it because I don't want to get too nervous," Peters said. "I took my granddaughters to the Hall today and we went to the Farmers' Museum, and I'm trying to keep my mind off it because otherwise I'll worry too much. If I wanted to be a speaker, I wouldn't have been in print journalism. I would have been a radio guy or a TV guy. It's out of my element -- I know that."
Of course, the writing of the speech is something Peters embraced.
"It didn't take me long. It took me maybe 20, 25 minutes to just thank a lot of people," Peters said. "It wasn't the time to have a forum or state your opinions. ... I really was humble about this award because I was a regional guy, I wasn't the national guy, so I didn't have any aspirations. I was very appreciative. I consider it a reward for longevity. I don't think too many guys are going to be doing this for 47 years."
Two years removed from the job, Peters instantly recalls the enthusiasm he had for his craft.
"I loved it -- I didn't ever consider it a bad job," Peters said. "I never aspired to be a columnist. I loved the travel and the beat."
Then there is Kubek, who was good enough as a player to be a four-time All-Star during his career with the Yankees. He played in six World Series, winning three of them.
"Decent," Kubek said of his playing accomplishments. "I was a coat tail guy. I loved it. I got a lot of World Series. But when you've got Yogi [Berra] and Mickey [Mantle] and Elston Howard ..."
But it was as a broadcaster that Kubek had the type of sustained excellence needed to become a Hall of Famer. He is the first exclusive television analyst to be so honored.
"Obviously I would have preferred to have gone in the other way, but it's a thrill," said Kubek.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.