“I hate what the game’s become. The greed, the nastiness. You can be married to baseball, give your heart to it, but when it starts taking over your soul, it’s time to say ‘whoa.'”

New York Yankees television broadcaster Tony Kubek called games from 1990-94. The former shortstop spent 30 years as a commentator with NBC, the Toronto Blue Jays and the Yankees.

In 2008, Kubek was honored by the Hall of Fame when he was awarded the Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasters.

Bob Costas, who has worked a few baseball games in his career, held Kubek in high regard.

“He thought of himself as a baseball man with a microphone, and while he developed a certain amount of broadcasting craftsmanship, he was largely disdainful of showmanship.”

When he worked for the Blue Jays, an article that appeared in the Toronto Star captured the essence of Kubek the broadcaster.

“He educated a whole generation of Canadian baseball fans without being condescending or simplistic.”

Just like current Yankees’ radio broadcaster John (Harold Moskowitz) Sterling.

Kubek, as the late Howard Cosell claimed to do but rarely followed through, told it like it is.

During the 1972 playoffs between Billy Martin’s Detroit Tigers and the Oakland A’s, there was an ugly incident in which Tigers pitcher Lerrin LaGrow knocked down Bert Campaneris by throwing at his legs, which were Campaneris’ bread and butter.

The A’s shortstop threw his bat at the pitcher.

Kubek didn’t mince words. He told viewers that Campaneris was justified in throwing the bat because any pitch aimed at a hitter’s legs could end his career.

Of course, Kubek had to have been influenced by the many times pitchers threw at Mickey Mantle’s legs.

Kubek’s position was not met with favor. Chrysler, a sponsor of the playoffs, called commissioner Bowie Kuhn, who in turn complained to NBC, but nothing came of the matter.

Kuhn was not in Atlanta’s Fulton County Stadium on Apr. 8, 1974 when baseball’s all-time home run leader, Hank Aaron, broke Babe Ruth’s career mark of 714 home runs. Kubek criticized Kuhn, stating the commissioner should have attended all the games in which Aaron played after he had tied the Babe.

The Yankees were not exactly a powerhouse during the early 1990s. New York’s most beloved team, the New York Mets, ruled New York while the Yankees were experiencing one of the longest winning droughts in the team’s history.

George Steinbrenner had taken over the team in 1973. The Yankees were World Champions in 1977 and 1978, but they didn’t win again until Mr. Steinbrenner was suspended from baseball for life.

Upon his return (you read that right), the Yankees owner remained in the background while Gene Michael, Bob Watson and Buck Showalter helped to build the championship teams Joe Torre was fortunate enough to manage.

Kubek wasn’t afraid to criticize Mr. Steinbrenner. He didn’t mince words.

“George’s legacy is not the World Series winners of ’77 and ’78 or having the best record of any team in the ’80s. His legacy is these past five seasons. Teams with worse and worse records culminating in last year’s last-place finish.”

“George talked a lot about tradition, but it was all phony, it was just him trying to be part of the tradition. You can’t manufacture tradition in a plastic way. You have to have a certain class to go with it.”

It is hoped that John Sterling doesn’t find out about this.

In 1994, Kubek suddenly quit.

“I didn’t like some of the things I saw. I’m not averse to either side making money, but money was becoming more important than the game itself.”

At the Cooperstown ceremonies in 2008, Kubek told reporters that he hadn’t watched a major league game since retiring, and that he doesn’t follow current players or teams.

Baseball under Bud “Al” Selig doesn’t take kindly to those who tell it like it is.


Tony Kubek

Frick Award to Kubek

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