On Monday, the Cubs’ best move of this off season was announced. Technically, this contract was signed by WGN AM 720 and not the Cubs, but it is the Cubs and Cub fans everywhere who will benefit. Through the 2015 season, at least, there will be at least one future Hall of Famer going to the ballpark daily. Pat Hughes has signed a five year contract to return to the radio booth. We have lost Ron Santo, but with Pat back in the booth for the next five years, there is no need to worry about the quality of the Cubs radio broadcasts.
Pat Hughes has been a fixture in the Cubs radio booth in the post strike era. While he never fails to tell it how it is, he manages to do so in a way that doesn’t leave us fans at home depressed. Even during the disastrous start of the 1997 season, it always seemed that he honestly believed the Cubs could turn things around at any moment up until they were out of it, and then he found positive stories for the future. Pat Hughes seemed to believe in the Cubs no matter what, and what’s more, he made us want to believe too. That doesn’t mean he’s delusional, just amazingly good at what he does.
I have always preferred my baseball via the radio (or radio via internet), and I have listened to the majority of Cubs broadcasts since Hughes and Santo took over the booth. There are several Pat and Ron games that stand out for me… the peeling an orange game in Colorado, sometime during the 1997 season… the Pink conversation game… the doubleheader against Pittsburgh to clinch the division… the incredible five game series against the Cardinals… I could keep going. I missed some of his most famous calls, including the Kerry Wood 20 strikeout game, but I have never regretted listening to a Cubs via radio, thanks largely to Pat and Ron.
Ron Santo will be missed, but it is good to know that for five more years one of the best radio voices in all baseball will be in the Cubs booth. In all honesty, I’m not sure it matters who they sign as Hughes partner. No matter who they pick, even if they stuck me in that booth, Pat Hughes is good enough as a broadcaster that the Cubs would have one of the top radio teams in the game. The Cubs may be short at starting pitcher and second base, but they have a Hall of Fame guy in the radio booth.
If you have never listened to a Cubs game, I strongly encourage you to do so. Pick a game or two this next season, turn off your TV, and just listen Pat Hughes tell the story of the game. You will almost certainly learn something about baseball or baseball history, and you will definitely be entertained. If you’re already a fan of Cubs Radio, hop into the comments and let us know your favorite games.
And if anyone else remembers the orange peel game in Colorado somewhere during the 1997 season… I think it was the ‘97 season… let me know. I have yet to find anyone else who remembers that game, and I’m starting to think I imagined it.