Eric Nadel recognized as one of the great ones

by Dan M | Posted on Friday, July 25th, 2014

ENadel

By Dic Humphrey
Eric Nadel joined the Rangers’ broadcast team in 1979, and has continuously worked as one of the Ranger voices since.
This is his 36th year behind the microphone, and this weekend will be honored with perhaps the highest honor a baseball broadcaster can receive.  Nadel will be presented with the Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasting excellence, given annually since 1978 by the Hall of Fame to recognize a broadcaster for “major contributions to baseball”.  
Ford Frick was a long time baseball writer and former Commissioner of Baseball.  He died in 1978, and the Award was then named in his honor and memory.
Nadel becomes the 38th person to win the Award and the second with primary ties to Texas.  Gene Elston, the long time Astros announcer, won the award in 2006.
The list of winners is a virtual “Who’s Who” of baseball announcing royalty.  Mel Allen was the first winner, and others include Vince Scully, Red Barber, Lindsey Nelson, Curt Gowdy, Ernie Harwell, Harry Caray, Russ Hodges, Chuck Thompson, Bob Ueker, and Jack Buck.
Nadel’s best sport is baseball, and that was his desire; but it was still improbable that he got the job when he joined the Rangers.  His broadcasting experience at the time included professional hockey, women’s professional basketball; but no baseball.  The lead man in the Rangers’ radio booth when Nadel arrived was Jon Miller, who freely admits that when Nadel was proposed as his new announcing partner, he looked at Nadel’s experience and told his boss, “Are you nuts?  Absolutely not; it’d be a disaster.”
Nadel got the job despite Miller’s objection.  He is still complementary of Miller as a mentor early in his career.
Initially, he flip-flopped between the radio and television booths.  Three years later, Miller left for Boston, and Mark Holtz was hired to be the lead man in the radio booth.  Nadel became the permanent number two man paired with Holtz.  They stayed a team for 13 years, when Holtz moved on to television in 1995.  That’s when Nadel became the number one guy in the radio booth.  He’s been teamed since with Brad Sham, Vince Cotroneo, Victor Rojas, Dave Barnett, Steve Busby and Matt Hicks.
Brad Sham was his first partner and stayed three years.  Sham of course was already a legendary NFL voice for his work with the Dallas Cowboys, from which he took a three year hiatus.
Cotroneo followed Sham.  He was strongly recommended by Nadel and their pairing lasted six years, during which they became solid friends.
Cotroneo was axed after the 2003 season.  Ron Fairly always said that when the team plays well, the announcers sound good.  Apparently, the opposite is true.  The Rangers finished in last place in Cotroneo’s final four years in the booth, which undoubtedly led to his departure.  He is an excellent broadcaster and eventually wound up as part of the Oakland Athletics’ broadcast team.
Victor Rojas was next.  He was there through 2009 and left to join the MLB Network.  He has since become the lead man in the Los Angeles Angels’ television booth.
That hastened Dave Barnett’s entrée.  Barnett however moved from radio to television in 2011 when John Rhadigan bombed as the television announcer.
Steve Busby completed the 2011 season as Nadel’s partner.  They were together for the World Series.  When game six went to extra innings, the format was for Busby to call the 10th inning.  The Rangers took a lead in the top half, and with two outs, Busby handed the mic to Nadel to make the call for what Ranger fans hoped would be the final out of the World Series.  It was a sign of the respect that Busby holds for Nadel.  After so many years with Texas, Busby felt that Nadel deserved to make the call.
Unfortunately, that third out didn’t come in time.  The Cardinals tied the game, won an inning later and won the World Series a day later.
In 2012, Busby was Nadel’s partner to start the season.  However, Busby moved to television when Barnett encountered health problems.  That afforded the opportunity for Nadel’s current partner – Matt Hicks – to join the team.
Nadel does not have a marvelous broadcaster voice.  His excellence really comes from his love for the game, which shows through in his efforts, and his preparedness.  He is absolutely meticulous.  He even challenged himself in the late 80’s to learn Spanish, as the team had so many Hispanic players.  He has become so proficient in the second language that he has announced games for Spanish broadcast networks.
He has also engrained himself in the community.  He undoubtedly has other broadcasting opportunities in the off season, but has chosen to remain in the area.
He is particularly big in the local music scene often promoting performances at the Kessler Theater and recently became the music director for the recently opened Vagabond Club.  He served for a year on the Dallas Park Foundation, and he and his wife Jeannie are involved in the CONTACT Crisis Line.
Nadel is from New York and graduated from Brown University, but told MLB.com’s T. R. Sullivan, “Dallas has been wonderful to me, and I love living there.”
One Eric Nadel fan that will be making the trip to Cooperstown this weekend is Nolan Ryan.  It will be the first induction ceremony weekend Ryan has attended since his induction 15 years ago.

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