Blue Jays play-by-play commentator for Sportsnet and ESPN broadcaster Dan Shulman named winner of Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s Jack Graney Award

St. Marys, Ont. – Toronto Blue Jays play-by-play commentator for Sportsnet and ESPN broadcaster Dan Shulman has been named the winner of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s 2020 Jack Graney Award.

The St. Marys, Ont.-based shrine presents this award annually to a member of the media who has made significant contributions to baseball in Canada through their life’s work.

“It’s a pleasure to listen to Dan Shulman call games for Rogers Sportsnet and ESPN,” said Scott Crawford, the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame’s director of operations. “Dan is one of the best baseball broadcasters in the world and he has been consistently outstanding during his career, but we especially marveled at his work this year when due to the COVID-19 pandemic he was confined to a studio in Toronto to call the Blue Jays games. He was so good that it truly felt like he was at the ballpark.”

Jack Graney award on display in Hall of Fame
Jack Graney award on display in Hall of Fame

Born in Toronto in 1967, Shulman attended the University of Western Ontario and took up broadcasting as an extracurricular activity in his freshman year. He soon found himself doing play-by-play for the university’s basketball, football, and hockey teams, but never seriously considered a career in broadcasting while he was at school.

He graduated in 1989 with a degree in actuarial science and landed a job in his field and worked as an actuary for nearly a year. But he soon discovered that he didn’t enjoy his job, so he started working as an anchor for CKBB, a Barrie, Ont., radio station, on weekends. When he was offered a full-time position with the station in 1990, he quit his job as an actuary for good.

In 1991, Shulman moved on to the FAN 1430 (now Sportsnet 590 The FAN) where he hosted a number of shows, including Prime Time Sports, The Major League Report and Baseball Today. In 1995, he began serving as the Blue Jays’ play-by-play commentator alongside Buck Martinez and also working part-time for ESPN.

He joined ESPN full-time in 2001 and was the voice of Wednesday Night Baseball from 2002 to 2007, Monday Night Baseball from 2008 to 2010 and Sunday Night Baseball from 2011 to 2017. The Toronto native has now been calling MLB postseason games on the radio for ESPN since 1998 and World Series contests since 2011.

On top of his baseball duties, he has been a play-by-play commentator on ESPN’s NCAA basketball broadcasts for 25 years. The versatile play-by-play man has also called NBA contests for TSN and ESPN, NHL games for TSN, and called hockey at the Winter Olympics in Lillehammer for CTV in 1994.  

Shulman has been the recipient of many previous honours for broadcasting excellence, including being named the 2011 National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association (NSSA) National Sportscaster of the Year and being selected the Sports Media Canada Broadcaster of the Year in 2000 and 2007.

Shulman returned to the Blue Jays television crew in 2016 and has been calling games for Rogers Sportsnet in each season since.

The Toronto native has also been named one of eight finalists for the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s 2020 Ford C. Frick Award which is presented annually for broadcasting excellence.

“I am tremendously honoured to be receiving this award,” said Shulman. “As a Canadian kid who fell in love with baseball very early on, the opportunity to cover the sport for as long as I have has been one of the great joys of my life. To be part of a list with so many people I have admired for so many years is very humbling. I want to thank the selection committee and the Board of Directors at the Hall for considering me worthy of this honour.”

Details about the presentation of the 2020 Jack Graney Award will be announced in the coming months.

Born in St. Thomas, Ont., Jack Graney was a scrappy leadoff hitter for the Cleveland Indians. His big league resume boasts a number of firsts. When he walked to the plate in a game against the Boston Red Sox on July 11, 1914, he became the first batter to face Babe Ruth. Almost two years later, on June 26, 1916, he was the first major leaguer to bat wearing a number on his uniform. After hanging up his spikes, Graney became the first ex-player to make the transition to the broadcast booth, performing radio play-by-play for the Indians from 1932 to 1953.

Previous Winners of the Jack Graney Award:

1987 – Neil MacCarl – Toronto Star
1988 – Milt Dunnell – Toronto Star
1990 – Austin “Dink” Carroll – Montreal Gazette
1991 – Joe Crysdale & Hal Kelly – CKEY
1996 – Dave Van Horne – Montreal Expos
2001 – Tom Cheek – Sportsnet 590/The Fan
2002 – Ernie Harwell – Detroit Tigers
2003 – Allan Simpson – Baseball America
2004 – Jacques Doucet – Montreal Expos
2005 – Len Bramson – TBS Sports
2009 – Ian MacDonald – Montreal Gazette
2010 – Bob Elliott – Sun Media & canadianbaseballnetwork.com
2011 – W. P. Kinsella – “Shoeless Joe” novel adapted to film “Field of Dreams”
2012 – Jerry Howarth – Sportsnet 590/The Fan
2013 – Rodger Brulotte – Montreal Expos, Toronto Blue Jays
2014 – Richard Griffin – Toronto Star
2015 – Serge Touchette – Le Journal de Montreal
2016 – Larry Millson – Globe and Mail
2017 – Alison Gordon – Toronto Star
2018 – Jeff Blair – Sportsnet
2019 – Ken Fidlin – Toronto Sun
2020 – Dan Shulman – Rogers Sportsnet, ESPN