Cubs radio play-by-play announcer Pat Hughes isn’t used to being acknowledged by 32,000 fans at a baseball game. His audience is usually at home or in cars, letting his soothing voice paint the picture at the stadium.
On Wednesday, when the Wrigley Field faithful learned that Hughes was one of three members of the Cubs Hall of Fame Class of 2022, they rose to their feet for a standing ovation. Hughes said he wasn’t sure what to do. Salute? Wave? He chose the latter.
“That’s another thing about being a Cubs announcer: The audience that we get to perform for every single day is incredibly gracious,” said Hughes, who receives thank-you messages at the end of every season. “I’m the one thanking you for being a great audience. Because they really are an incredible group of fans, knowledgeable, numerous, passionate, and just the sweetest bunch of people that you could possibly have as a public performer.”
Hughes, Buck O’Neil — who was enshrined in Cooperstown this year — and former outfielder Jose Cardenal are the newest inductees to the Cubs Hall of Fame. The team plans to unveil their plaques on Sept. 10.
The Cubs opened their new Hall of Fame a year ago during the Wrigley Field rededication. They added a single 2021 inductee, Margaret Donahue, to go with the 56 honorees in the original Cubs Hall of Fame.
Hughes joins Harry Caray and Jack Brickhouse as the only members of the team’s Hall who served exclusively as broadcasters.
“I’m amazed,” Hughes said. “I’m very pleased. I love history. I love baseball history and Cubs history. And to think that I’m in there with only two other broadcasters, and they’re very prominent and famous and wonderful . . . to think that I’m the third is very special.”
Cubs president of business operations Crane Kenney broke the news to Hughes on air during the Cubs’ 7-1 victory against the Cardinals.
Kenney had given Hughes the heads-up earlier in the homestand that he was going to join him in the booth to talk about the new Hall of Fame class. But it didn’t occur to Hughes that he might end up talking about himself.
A Marquee Sports Network camera focused on Hughes and Kenney in the booth in the top of the third inning.
O’Neil, as a Hall of Famer, automatically got into the Cubs’ version. But of the 14 candidates considered by the voting committee — which was made up of Hall of Famers and select media members — only two were chosen, Kenney said.
“Jose was one, and I’ll let you talk about the other one who’s going in, Pat,” Kenney said, handing Hughes a sheet of paper.
Hughes paused, studied the paper and said: “I think it says, this is me going into the Hall of Fame?”
He later said to Ron Coomer, his partner in the booth, and in an interview a couple of innings later: “Rarely am I speechless, but I really was. It came right out of the blue.”
Hughes wished the late Ron Santo, who was his broadcast partner for 15 years, and his parents were still around to share in the moment. But he will celebrate with his wife, Trish, and his daughters, who were in preschool and first grade when Hughes first got his job as a Cubs announcer.
The top of the third inning ended with Cardinals star Nolan Arenado having an animated conversation with the plate umpire after striking out and quickly being ejected.
“I said, I’m kind of glad this is the way my half-inning ended, with a Cardinal getting booted out of the game,” Hughes recounted with a smile. “It was just one of those things, and he was kind of upset, but I’m glad to see him go. That gives us a better chance of winning.”