I was horrified when I read Jay D. Homnick’s lambaste of Hall of Fame broadcaster Dave Van Horne. He likens Van Horne receiving the Ford C. Frick Award for excellence in baseball broadcasting to the Motion Picture Academy bestowing Ed Wood with a Lifetime Achievement Award for direction.
Homnick couldn’t be more wrong.
What Homnick does not mention is that before Van Horne joined the Florida Marlins broadcast booth in 2001, Van Horne was the voice of the Montreal Expos from their inception in 1969. While many young boys in my age group listened to Foster Hewitt shout, “He shoots!!! He scores!!!” on the CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada, I land Expos fans all over Canada looked forward to Van Horne rejoicing with an “Up, Up and Away!!!” everytime an Expo hit a homerun on the CBC’s broadcast of Expos games.
It is worth noting that Van Horne’s signature moment came on July 28, 1991, exactly twenty years ago yesterday, when he called Dennis Martinez’s perfect game against the Los Angeles Dodgers. After Martinez recorded the 27th and final out, Van Horne exclaimed, “El Presidente!!! El Perfecto!!!” Joyful genius at its very finest.
Van Horne also had an extraordinary rapport with his color commentators especially Dodgers legend Duke Snider who shared the broadcast booth with him in Montreal from 1973 to 1986. Here is Van Horne paying tribute to the Duke after he passed away in February. Van Horne also clicked well with Ken Singleton (a former Expo who many of you will be familiar with on Yankee broadcasts on the YES Network) as well as Hall of Fame catcher Gary Carter.
Outside of the late Ernie Harwell and Vin Scully, there is no baseball broadcaster I would rather hear call a game than Dave Van Horne.
That might not mean a great deal to Homnick. But let me ask him this question. If Van Horne is such a bad broadcaster then why did Vin Scully cast his vote for him to receive the Ford C. Frick Award this year? When it comes to evaluating Dave Van Horne’s abilities as a broadcaster, I’ll take the word of Vin Scully over Jay D. Homnick every single time.