NASHVILLE — Joe Castiglione accidentally hung up on the best moment of his career on Wednesday.
The Hall of Fame was on the line, president Josh Rawitch and vice president of communications Jon Shestakofsky ready to tell the longtime Red Sox radio announcer that he had finally won the Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasting excellence.
True to form — “I’m a technical klutz,” he said — Castiglione disconnected the call when he tried to put it on speaker so his wife, Jan, could share in the news.
“That was two minutes of great suspense for me before we got it going,” he said.
It was worth the wait. At 76, Castiglione achieved the highest honor for a baseball broadcaster and will be honored at the Hall on July 20 as part of induction weekend.
“It was just incredible,” said Castiglione, who has called Sox games for 41 seasons, more than 6,000 in all. “Absolutely stunned is the word when it finally came through.”
Castiglione was a finalist in 2014, 2020, and again in 2023 before he finally broke through. He joins, among other Frick winners, longtime voice of the Red Sox Curt Gowdy (1984) and Jon Miller (2010), whom Castiglione replaced in 1983.
“Joe has such a connection to Boston and those fans. I know how proud he is of this,” said Suzyn Waldman, a Newton native and longtime Yankees broadcaster. “Here he is, in the Hall of Fame. It’s such a heartwarming Boston story.”
For Castiglione, a baseball broadcast historian, it was a moment of great significance.
His hero, Mel Allen, was the first winner of the Frick Award along with Red Barber. His mentor, Ernie Harwell, received the award in 1981. Then came several contemporaries such as Marty Brennaman (Reds), Pat Hughes (Cubs), and his good friend Eric Nadel of the Rangers.
“It’s just so meaningful to be in with some of the greats, not that I put myself in that category,” Castiglione said.
He didn’t have to. A 15-member panel that included the 12 living recipients of the award voted Castiglione in. They saw him as one of the greats.
“You never dream of these things when you’re starting,” Castiglione said. “My first goal was to do Major League Baseball. My second was to do a World Series and to win a World Series.
“But this is nothing that was on the radar ever. It’s just such a thrill to be honored by my peers.”
Castiglione had a one-year contract when he started with the Red Sox, his experience to that point having called some Indians and Brewers games on television. But he had the endorsement of longtime Sox announcer Ken Coleman, and that was enough.
Castiglione never expected his tenure would go into a fifth decade or that he would chronicle four World Series champions.
“There’s no broadcaster in the world that this could mean more to,” said Will Flemming, Castiglione’s current partner. “It was overdue. No one has meant more to one community and one group of fans than Joe has to the Red Sox.”
Castiglione returned that affection. Turn on a game and you can usually tell by the tone of his voice if the Sox are winning or losing.
“He still loves it,” Flemming said. “He prepares the same way he always has after all these years. But he’s open-minded to how the game has changed, too.”
Castiglione rose to the occasion for the final out of the 2004 World Series. Any good Red Sox fan knows his words by heart.
“Swing and a ground ball. Stabbed by Foulke. He has it! He underhands to first! And the Boston Red Sox are the world champions. For the first time in 86 years, the Red Sox have won baseball’s world championship. Can you believe it?”
Castiglione has become a Red Sox institution. He’s an active supporter of The Jimmy Fund and has maintained close relationships with so many former players and coaches, Roger Clemens primary among them.
Castiglione’s children and grandchildren, who have been regulars at Fenway Park over the years, will share in his accomplishment.
“For me, it really was emotional,” Flemming said. “Joe is my first major league baseball partner and there’s not another person I would pick for that. It’s an honor to work with him. He’s my second son’s godfather, that’s how much I think of him.
“Cooperstown is going to be a celebration of the man and his life, too.”