It's finally here. Induction weekend in Cooperstown, the home of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. This year it's especially notable for Chicago Cubs fans because one of our own - longtime radio voice of the team Pat Hughes - will be enshrined among baseball's immortality as the 2023 Ford C. Frick Award winner.
Hughes' induction marks the first time a Cub has gone into the Hall since Lee Smith in 2019 - although if you want to get technical, one of the guys also going into Cooperstown this weekend, Fred McGriff, spent a handful of years calling the North Side home, from 2001-2002.
Cubs broadcaster Pat Hughes finally gets his moment in Cooperstown
But let's keep the focus on Hughes, who has been synonymous with Chicago Cubs baseball for decades, starting his run at the Friendly Confines way back in 1996. Two decades later, he became the first Cubs broadcaster to call the final out of a World Series win on a rainy night in Cleveland. Here's what he had to say about it, courtesy of Audacy's The PBP: Voices of Baseball - where he covers an array of other topics, including Sammy Sosa and the 1998 Home Run Chase, more on the 2016 Fall Classic and Cooperstown.
"“It’s a moment I will never forget. By any means, it’s not the greatest baseball call that’s ever been made... It was the biggest moment of my career. It was exciting but I’m not sure I want to do that every single day.”"- Pat Hughes on Game 7
More than a few Cubs fans know Hughes' call of that final out by heart at this point. It easily ranks among my most memorable moments as a fan - but in my life, in general. But his impact goes so much deeper than one historic call: he's a man who understands the nuances of the game. His daily descriptions of the uniforms paint the picture for listeners and his banter with whoever is in the booth with him is unmatched.
His most iconic calls (just watch/listen below if you want all the feels) include: "Get out the tape measure - long gone!" and, of course," This ball's got a chance - gone!" I know a day will come when he hangs up his microphone for good and when that day comes, I don't know what I'll do because from the time I was 5 years old - and really, as far back as I can remember - he's been the voice of summer and my love affair with the Chicago Cubs.
Broadcasters, especially ones as iconic and legendary as Hughes take on an almost supernatural identity to us as fans. For any Cubs fan, Hughes' voice is, simply, the voice of the Cubs.