Phillies broadcast analyst Chris “Muffin” Wheeler has been nominated for the Hall of Fame’s coveted Ford C. Frick Award for announcing, along with former partner/chief antagonist to his career Richie Ashburn. Ashburn, beloved by fans for his uncensored candor, complete lack of patience, large blocks of silence for several innings at a time, and unbridled fury at the notion of a sacrifice bunt, passed away in 1998.
Wheeler, who two days ago mentioned that there had “…never been two perfect games in one game before,” qualifies for the award by being in broadcasting for the past 10+ years with the same organization. Unlike with player inductions, the fans can vote for Wheeler, who last night suggested that Bronson Arroyo has “pretty good stuff” just prior to the Phillies scoring six unanswered runs on him. Voting will continue on the HOF’s Facebook page through September 30 at 5:00 PM, at which point the top three candidates will be put on a ten-name ballot and voted upon by some Holiest of Holy Baseball Council at this year’s Winter Meetings.
Wheeler began his career in broadcasting when Ashburn, on the air at the time, chose to get up and leave the booth in the middle of an inning for some reason, announcing that “Assistant Director of Publicity Chris Wheeler” would be taking over for him. Horrified, Wheeler sat down at the microphone and actually made several astute observations regarding the game, accidentally starting a new career and beginning Ashburn’s eventual paranoia that he was gunning for his job.
Offering insight, an endless supply of anecdotes, and probably some third thing, Wheeler, who once interrupted a broadcast to tell everyone that the ’50s hit tune “Rock Around the Cock” was playing over the speakers at Tropicana Field, holds the record as the Phillies broadcaster who has been trapped in the most bus bathrooms. For those unwilling to to decipher some of his more complex analysis, a Chris Wheeler-only glossary exists to provide support.
The nomination comes just days after Gary Matthews’ recognition for Most Blatantly Sexual Euphemism Said Without a Clue of It’s Sexual Nature.
Wheeler’s campaign reportedly lost momentum when he called the HOF committee to thank them and wound up telling a pointless, rambling story about a “neat hat” he saw in a store once.