The Baseball Hall of Fame is having its annual balloting for the Ford C. Frick Award, an honor given to the best broadcasters. And this year, the fans are encouraged to vote for their favorites.
Three of the 10 names on the final Frick Award ballot will be chosen by fans, who can vote for three broadcasters, once a day, everyday until the voting period expires at the end of the month.
There are 150 names on the ilst. Some of the names you would expect, like Don Sutton, Brooks Robinson and Phil Rizzuto. But some are not names you’d associate with broadcasting greatness (see: Tim McCarver)
Then there’s one name that really, truly sticks out. We’re talking about the last name you’d expect to see on a list of candidates for the Hall of Fame. Maybe the worst broadcaster in sports: Philadelphia Phillies commentator Chris Wheeler.
Wheels has the bad fortune of being paired with one of broadcasting’s all time greats, Harry Kalas, who received the Frick award in 2005. Everyone who gets paired with Kalas comes off looking like an amateur by comparison. Wheeler comes off looking like both an amateur and a shmuck.
“Wheels,” as he is colorfully referred to by his colleagues in the booth, is annoying, a true homer, and generally detracts from the quality of the braodcast. He uses the same worn expressions over and over. “Aww, you hate to see something like that…” when somebody gets hurt. “He’s a real dirt dog” to describe a white player who steals a base and gets dirty. “One of the all-time great guys…” to describe anybody on the Phillies roster, regardless of past felony convictions.
I’ve never met a single person who enjoys listening to Wheeler, and that includes his colleagues. When his contract with the Phillies expired in 2003, Kalas told the Phillies that he didn’t want to be paired with Wheeler anymore and prefered to work with John Kruk or Larry Anderson. “It is uncomfortable to work with [Wheeler],” Kalas said. Unfortunately, Kalas didn’t get his wish. Wheeler remains in the Phillies booth, to the horror of the fans.
A random google search of the words “Chris Wheeler” uncovered the following 2003 bulletin board exchange about Wheeler’s crappiness:
DanW, 11-11-2003, 11:33 AM
Ok, I know he has his fans and his detractors…but is anyone else aghast that the Phillies website is actually mentioning that Chris Wheeler will be eligible for the Ford Frick Award this year??? I, for one, LOATHE Chris Wheeler and I can’t believe that the website is mentioning him in the same context as the other winners of that award! The guy must have some dirty laundry on someone in the Phillies organization to still be occupying the broadcast booth after all this time. When I turn on a Phils game, I want to enjoy the game…not have my intelligence insulted.
Rich, 11-11-2003, 11:39 AM
does ford have a brother. maybe its the edsel frick award. to me, wheeler is an example of the “everythings fine” philosophy of the phils . wheeler is horrible!! more when i get a chance. if i really got started on this, the post would be as long as a bill burgess/cobb post.
Goose, 11-12-2003, 09:48 AM
I’d rather watch Jose Mesa pitch the ninth inning than listen to Chris Wheeler do the 4th through 6th.
I think Goose summed it up pretty well. Listening to Wheeler is torture. And Goose, Rich, DanW and me aren’t the only ones who thinks so. At one point an anti-Wheeler site popped up, called Dumpwheeler.com, but it folded.
Wikipedia describes Wheeler thusly: “[H]e has long drawn the ire of some Phillies fans for … his constant optimism and often irrational praise.” I’d say that’s about right.
Long story short: please don’t vote for Chris Wheeler for the Hall of Fame — even if you’re trying to be ironic. Because there’s nothing funny about a poorly commented baseball game.