Hagen, Cheek to be honored at Hall ceremony
Veteran Philadelphia writer, late Blue Jays announcer this year's Spink, Frick winners
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- For the third consecutive year Saturday, the National Baseball Hall of Fame will stage it awards ceremony at Doubleday Field, separating it from Sunday's inductions.
This year, the ceremony, slated to start at 4:30 p.m. ET, will be headlined by MLB.com reporter Paul Hagen, who was elected by the Baseball Writers' Association of America last year as the recipient of the annual J.G. Taylor Spink Award for "meritorious contributions to baseball writing."
Also on the program are Tom Cheek, the late Toronto Blue Jays broadcaster and winner of the Ford C. Frick Award for excellence in baseball broadcasting, and Dr. Frank Jobe and film producer Thomas Tull, who are accepting special awards. MLB.com will stream MLB Network's coverage of all the Hall of Fame festivities beginning at 12:30 p.m. ET Sunday.
"What does it mean to me?" Hagen said. "As you know, when you cover baseball, you make a lot of sacrifices in your personal life and your families make a lot of sacrifices in your behalf. It means that at some level, it was worth it. Everybody likes to be recognized for what they do, especially if you put a lot of yourself into it. I think it's nice to get that recognition, but it's even nicer to see how excited my family is about it. That means a lot to me."
Among Hagen's lengthy credentials was a 25-year stint with the Philadelphia Daily News as a Phillies beat writer and a national baseball correspondent. He joined MLB.com in 2011.
"Paul's being honored with the Spink Award is incredibly deserving for what he's done to expand the fan's knowledge of the game in Philadelphia and nationally," Jeff Idelson, the Hall's president, said on Friday. "I can't think of anyone more deserving than Paul. I know he's taken the role trying to keep himself alive very seriously over the last six months because he's the one representative this year who's going to be able to make his own speech."
Sunday's ceremony will be the first since 1965 in which there will be no living inductees. Yankees owner Jacob Ruppert, catcher Deacon White and umpire Hank O'Day, all of whom died before the museum opened in 1939, were elected by the Pre-Integration Veterans Committee. The first class of inductees was elected in 1936.
The eligible writers didn't elect a single player on their ballot this year for the first time since 1996.
Cheek died in 2005 and will be represented by his widow, Shirley, who has authored and will be delivering his acceptance speech. Cheek called the first 4,306 regular-season games and 41 postseason games in Blue Jays history. That franchise expanded into the American League along with the Seattle Mariners in 1977.
"It's an honor for me to represent Tom for all his years that he spent with the Blue Jays; he had quite a record," Shirley Cheek said. "It will be an honor to be there with my children and grandchildren. I'm getting more and more emotional as we get closer to the event."
Jobe is the noted orthopedic surgeon who invented the Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery that has since saved many a pitching career, including the southpaw for whom the procedure is commonly named. Tull produced this year's popular film "42" that chronicled Jackie Robinson's famous 1947 season, when the Brooklyn Dodgers star shattered the color barrier.
In previous years, in addition to the Frick and Spink winners, the Hall honored longtime general manager and current D-backs special assistant Roland Hemond with the Buck O'Neil Award, and last year gave special acknowledgement to three generations of St. Louis Cardinals managers.
Idelson said that splitting up the programs, which was considered controversial at the time, has been a rousing success. Before 2011, the Frick and Spink winners gave their speeches during the Sunday inductions.
"I think it's been terrific for a number of reasons," Idelson said. "Attendance has been solid. It's added another strong element to the weekend. And finally, it's allowed us to honor people we perhaps wouldn't have been able to in years past. Now we try to take Saturday to honor people who have made significant contributions to the game.
"When you think about Thomas Tull and what he did to bring '42' to the silver screen, allowing children to learn about integration, and what Dr. Jobe has done -- what, 500 players have now had Tommy John surgery? And that's just in baseball. Those are magnificent contributions."
Barry M. Bloom is national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.