Humble Hughes gets the call: Cubs broadcaster takes his place in Cooperstown
When Pat Hughes was 10 years old, his dream of being a Major League Baseball player was still alive and well.
“I was what you would call a serviceable ballplayer,” the new Hall of Fame broadcaster told me on numerous occasions. “By the time I was 14 or 15, the broadcasting bug was planted in me forever.”
Hughes recalled riding the bench one day during his high school team’s game and being pretty bored.
“I remember seeing a ground ball hit to shortstop and saying out loud, ‘A grounded ball hit to deep shortstop, he spins and fires the ball to the second baseman, who tosses to first for the 6-4-3 double play,'” Hughes remembers. “My teammate sitting next to me said, ‘Hey Pat, that sounds really good.’ That was pretty much it for me. I could see the future ahead of me and it wasn’t hitting home runs.”
As always, perfection is what Pat was seeking once he got the call from Hall of Fame President Josh Rawitch that he was the 2023 Ford C. Frick award winner for excellence in broadcasting.
Always the working man’s professional, Hughes began writing his speech for July 23rd.
“Just getting a call from the president of the Hall of Fame was exciting,” he said in an exclusive interview with Marquee Sports Network. “I love baseball history and I love baseball broadcasting history, so it was extra special for me. Seeing my plaque up in the Hall of Fame today, I just stood there in disbelief. You think about posterity and this award being around forever as future generations visit the Hall of Fame. I will be there on the wall with the great Vin Scully, Harry Caray and Marty Brenneman, Al Michaels and all the great broadcasters. It’s a very special group.”
Hughes is every bit deserving of the award as the other great broadcasters he mentioned. After 41 years as a big league play-by-play announcer, the last 28 with the Chicago Cubs, he truly can sign his autograph Pat Hughes HOF 2023.
“This means everything to us,” Trish Hughes said about this honor for her husband of 36 years. “The deal was he would work at his trade and I would raise the girls when he was off broadcasting. He was always here for us. The job and baseball season gave him a lot of time in the offseason to spend with me and our daughters. We are so proud of him and it’s certainly a family award.”
The baseball world turned out for Hughes at his induction along with sublime writer John Lowe, who worked decades at the Detroit Free Press, receiving the 2023 BBWAA vote for baseball writing excellence with its own unique plaque in the Hall of Fame museum.
HOF players and former Brewers Paul Molitor and Robin Yount, along with iconic Cub Ryne Sandberg attended the event in support of their friend.
“Pat was there to broadcast the last years of my career with the Cubs,” Sandberg said. “He was upbeat and friendly around the team. His descriptions of the game were terrific. I drive around the city and get to the games a little late sometimes. With Pat’s play-by-play, I feel like I am there and totally immersed in the details of what is going on. Pat is a great person and broadcaster.”
Over the past four seasons, Hughes has added TV broadcasting on Marquee to his illustrious resume.
“I love doing television,” Hughes said. “I work with really good people there. Mike McCarthy and Mike Santini and director Mike Leary are all great, as are the Marquee production people. These people are all so good to work with. It’s different because you have probably 15 people on a TV broadcast. In radio, it’s basically you and the color commentator.”
Before giving his speech on Saturday, the new HOF broadcaster talked about, of all things, being nervous to give a speech.
“I was thinking about making a live speech in Cooperstown alone,” Hughes recounted. “It made it all a little different. I tried to calm down and take deep breaths. It felt very similar to before I broadcast Game 7 of the Cubs World Series in 2016. I said to myself, ‘stay calm, let the words tumble out and if I make a mistake, which you invariably you will, try not to turn one mistake into 10 more.’ I was literally saying these things to myself. But as I got going, I was able to get into my normal rhythm. I am sure I will find one or two mistakes as I look at the video.”
The essence of why people love baseball is for an escape and to have fun. That has not been lost on the 68-year-old HOF announcer.
“I know I will not do this forever,” Hughes related. “I know I am not going to be here forever. Every day, I am still trying to get this right. I hope that last day is far down the road, because I am having fun each day with Ron Coomer and Zach Zaidman. It’s still fun to be a part of a good team on radio and TV.”