Madden, Miller part of Hall of Fame story
Journalists not used to being part of the celebration
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- It is their responsibility to bring you the story, and in all but a few instances, distance themselves from it. In a sense, they are mailmen, electronic mailmen if you will -- deliver it and move on. Only on rare occasions are they components of the stories they provide. Except this weekend.
For three days and nights, each of the M & M Boys is a story, not the lead story certainly, not on this Hall of Fame Weekend, not with Bob Feller, Carlton Fisk and Robin Yount milling around, not with Doug Harvey and Whitey Herzog and Andre Dawson as the central characters. But in this weekend, two men who have brought you stories about Willie Mays, Cal Ripken Jr. and Dennis Eckersley are newsmakers, albeit uneasy ones.
Bill Madden, a New York journalist, and Jon Miller, whose voice is heard throughout the coast-to-coast baseball community, are to be recognized Sunday by the Hall of Fame ceremonies along with Harvey, Herzog and Dawson. A reporter-columnist-author, an announcer, an umpire, a manager and a player. The Cooperstown Class of 2010 is as diverse as any in the Hall's history.
If we chose, we could have Herzog give the hit-and-run sign, Dawson execute the order, Harvey determine whether an out or hit were achieved, Miller call it and Madden -- when this fictional play, inning and game are complete -- write about it, with some quotes, perhaps, from "The Rat" (Herzog) and "The Hawk" (Dawson) and maybe even "The Lord" (Harvey). A group effort by five men who will grace the dais Sunday afternoon.
Madden is likely to be the more awkward, if only because Miller's assignments over the years in radio and television in Baltimore, Boston, San Francisco and now with ESPN have brought him into your family rooms and onto your computer screens. He may become part of the story to his viewers/listeners merely by his presence. Madden is electronic too, but mostly in how he transmits his stories and columns to the New York Daily News.
"It's been pretty bizarre, to tell you the truth," Madden said Saturday afternoon. "It's overwhelming to this side of the coverage. If Zim [Don Zimmer, the subject of one of Madden's books] were here, he'd probably said, 'What's a .235 hitter like you doing up there?'
"It's a very awkard feeling, being 'the story.' I usually have nothing to do with a story except writing it. With the books, I had no choice. In many cases, I was the only witness."
Two of Madden's books -- "Damned Yankees," co-authored with Moss Klein, and "Steinbrenner, the Last Lion of Baseball" -- required use of the vertical pronoun. But most of his portfolio, the work that has earned him the J.G. Taylor Spink Award, symbolic of Hall of Fame standing, was written in the third person, singular and plural -- hes and theys. That's how newspapers work. And Madden, a scholastic sprint champion, a Frank Sinatra devotee and baseball memorabilia collector with some White Sox in his genetic makeup, is a newspaper man first and foremost. He is one of that fraternity of Kappa Delta Ink-Stained Wretches -- late phone calls, early deadlines and laptops that are not more reliable than the D-backs' bullpen.
Miller is not nearly so facially anonymous, and his made-for-the-job voice made him distinctive on the radio. His DNA has SF in it. He practiced his craft as a teenager in Candlestick Park when the attendance was so lacking that former Giants outfielder Bobby Murcer thought the center-field stands would make an excellent hideout for alleged fugitive Patty Hearst.
Now Miller is heard -- and enjoyed by the masses. He strings together entertaining baseball anecdotes as Joe DiMaggio strung together games with hits. The quote from Bob Lemon about Tommy John applies to him. "Ask him what time it is, and he'll tell you who made the watch." Like Madden, there's a book in there.
But come Sunday, Miller -- the man who doesn't sweat under the lamps in the booth -- will squirm. Being recognized on the street is one thing, but this recognition, the Ford C. Frick Award, is comparable to the honors Harvey, Herzog and Dawson received Sunday. Miller knows what it means.
"The Giants gave me a day [two Friday's ago]," Miller said Saturday. "I was very grateful, but I was very awkward. A short voyage on the FDR Yacht, Miller's favorite vessel, with Mays, Willie McCovey, Orlando Cepeda and former Giants announcer and Frick Award winner Lon Simmons, Miller's parents and high school baseball coach aboard. It was a wowing experience. But uncomfortable, too.
"I think if they said 'Jon Miller' one more time on the PA, the fans would have stood up and walked out," Miller said. "That's not what my job is. They come to see [Tim] Lincecum and [Pablo] Sandoval and [Buster] Posey."
On Sunday, they'll come to see Madden and Miller, too.
Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.