By Lisa Diethelm
Al Michaels, a veteran sports broadcaster and Arizona State University alumnus, has won the 2021 Ford C. Frick Award from the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Since 1978, the Hall of Fame has presented the Frick Award annually to a broadcaster who has made major contributions to the baseball industry. Michaels is the 45th recipient of the award. He joins other broadcast luminaries such as MLB Network Host and Play-by-Play Announcer Bob Costas, former CBS Sports and ESPN sportscaster Dick Enberg, and former Los Angeles Dodgers sportscaster Vin Scully.
Michaels is known as one of the preeminent sportscasters in the industry who has called some of the most memorable sporting events of all time. Some of the more notable events include the 1989 World Series when an earthquake in the San Francisco Bay Area interrupted the baseball game between the Oakland Athletics and San Francisco Giants, and forced Michaels to switch from calling a baseball game to providing breaking news updates on the natural disaster. In addition, Michaels called the legendary 1980 Miracle on Ice at the Lake Placid Winter Olympics, when he announced “Do you believe in miracles?” after the U.S beat the Soviet Union in ice hockey.
Brett Kurland, the Cronkite School’s director of Sports Programs, the Phoenix Sports Bureau of Cronkite News and a professor of practice, said the award is well deserved because if you hear Michaels’ voice, “you know it’s a big game.”
“Al Michaels is a legend in his own time. He is synonymous with sports play-by-play, and has narrated so many of the greatest moments in sports going back at least 40 years,” Kurland said.
While earning his degree at ASU, Michaels was a sports editor for the school’s newspaper, The State Press, and called football, basketball and baseball games for the student-run radio station, which is known today as Blaze Radio. After graduating in 1966, Michaels called games for the Pacific Coast League’s Hawaii Islanders and the University of Hawaii basketball and football teams. Michaels then became the voice of the Cincinnati Reds and later the San Francisco Giants in the early 1970s, which led him to joining ABC in 1977.
From there, Michaels made his mark as a sports broadcaster by calling play-by-play for World Series games on ABC, NBC, and The Baseball Network from the 1980s to 1990s. Michaels is also famous for his work on Monday and Sunday Night Football for the last two decades.
In 1993, Michaels was inducted into the Cronkite School Alumni Hall of Fame, which honors distinguished and accomplished alumni. Nearly a decade later, Michaels was the recipient of the 2002 Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism, which honors a leading figure in journalism.
With all of his success, Kurland said that Michaels is not only a role model to students for starting at ASU, but his career path is a great example for those who want to advance in their profession.
“When our students sit at Phoenix Municipal Stadium and call an ASU baseball game, for instance, they know that there’s a road from what they are doing now to where Michaels is, and what a wonderful example for all of them to follow,” Kurland said.
Michaels will receive the Ford C. Frick Award on July 24, 2021, during the award’s induction ceremonies as part of the July 23-26 Hall of Fame Weekend 2021 in Cooperstown, New York.