- Major League Baseball on the radio
Major League Baseball on the radio has been a tradition for almost 80 years, and still exists today. Baseball was one of the first sports to be broadcast in the United States. Every team in Major League Baseball has a flagship station, and baseball is also broadcast on national radio.
The first baseball game ever broadcast on radio was a Pittsburgh Pirates versus Philadelphia Phillies game on August 5, 1921. The game was broadcast by KDKA of Pittsburgh, and the Pirates defeated the Phillies 8-5. It was broadcast by KDKA staff announcer Harold Arlin. That year, KDKA and WJZ of Newark broadcast the first World Series on the radio, with Grantland Rice and Tommy Cowan calling the games for KDKA and WJZ, respectively. However, the broadcasters were not actually present at the game, but simply gave reports from a telegraph wire. The next year, WJZ broadcast the entire series, with Rice doing play-by-play. For the 1923 World Series, Rice was joined on Westinghouse for the first time by Graham McNamee.
During the 1923 World Series, Rice was the main broadcaster, but during the fourth inning of Game 3, he turned the microphone over to McNamee. This was the start of McNamee's career, and McNamee became the first color commentator. Although frequently criticized for his lack of expertise, McNamee helped popularize baseball.
Many owners were still wary. By the 1930s, the two-team cities of Boston, Philadelphia, St. Louis, and Chicago had reached an agreement not to broadcast away games. In other words, if the Boston Braves were at home, listeners could hear that game on the radio, but could not listen to the Boston Red Sox away game. The owners' argument-"they won't come to the park if you give the game away"-was invalidated under this arrangement. The New York owners went one step further: in 1932 they agreed to ban all radio broadcasting-even of visitors' re-creations-from their parks. Larry MacPhail took over the Cincinnati Reds in 1933 and sold a controlling interest in the club to Powel Crosley, owner of two Cincinnati radio stations. It was a match made in economic heaven: MacPhail knew that broadcasting games would promote the team and Crosley could now boost his radio ratings. Their symbiosis is reminiscent of St. Louis beer-garden magnate Chris von der Ahe's takeover of the St. Louis team in order to sell more beer. When MacPhail moved to Brooklyn in 1938, he brought Reds announcer Red Barber with him and broke the New York radio ban. The next year was the first year that all the major league teams broadcast their games. Prophetically, it was also the year of the first televised baseball game.
In 1935, Baseball Commissioner Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis orchestrated a radio deal that covered the World Series. All three networks were involved, and baseball made $400,000. Landis, as ever, was imperious; he dismissed Ted Husing as games announcer despite the fact that, with five World Series under his belt, Husing was second only to the ubiquitous Graham McNamee in Series-announcing experience. The amount of money involved in baseball broadcasting was growing. Gillette, the razor blade manufacturer and one of the first companies to realize the power of sports as an advertising vehicle, tried to flex its muscles by offering Red Barber a substantial amount to walk out on his Dodger contract and join Gillette on a new Yankees/Giants network. Barber refused. It's no wonder Gillette felt powerful; in 1946 the company was rich enough to sign a 10-year, $14-million deal for exclusive radio sponsorship of the World Series and All-Star Games.
Though radio grew quickly as a medium for baseball, many teams were still apprehensive about it, fearing negative effects on attendance. Nevertheless, each team was allowed to reach its own policy by 1932, and the Chicago Cubs broadcast all of their games on WMAQ in 1935. The last holdouts were the New York teams—the Giants, Dodgers, and Yankees combined to block radio broadcasts of their games until 1938.
By the end of this period, radio had become increasingly commercialized. Wheaties started its long relationship with baseball in 1933, and in 1934, sponsorship rights to the World Series were first sold.
During the Golden Age of Radio, television sports broadcasting was in its infancy, and radio was still the main form of broadcasting baseball. Many notable broadcasters, such as Mel Allen, Red Barber, Harry Caray, Russ Hodges, Ernie Harwell, and Vin Scully, started in this period.
However, broadcasting still did not look like the way it does today—recreations of games based on telegrams, the original means of broadcasting, were still widely used. The Liberty Broadcasting System operated solely through recreations of games, because live games were too expensive. Gordon McLendon broadcast games throughout the South from 1948 until 1952, when new blackout regulations forced him to stop. Mutual Broadcasting System also broadcast a Game of the Day during the 1950s.
However, as the Golden Era wound down, radio was gradually eclipsed by television. The World Series continued to be broadcast on the radio, with NBC Radio covering the Series from 1960–1975, and CBS Radio from 1976–1997. However, there would not be regular-season baseball broadcast nationally on the radio until 1985, when CBS Radio started a Game of the Week.
- ^ Detroit's WWJ also claimed to have broadcast the first baseball game, as well as the 1920 World Series.
- ^ KDKA Firsts
- ^ a b c d e f g On the Air
- ^ a b c TSB Heritage
- ^ a b c d e f Radio and its Impact on the Sports World
- ^ First Radio Broadcast of a Baseball Game
- ^ a b c RW Special Report
- ^ a b Frick winner to be announced
- ^ Book Review
- ^ Voices—TIME, October 3, 1927
- ^ A look back at the Q.
- ^ a b c Baseball, Radio, and Jackie Robinson
- ^ General Mills: History of Innovation
- ^ a b c Diz by Robert Gregory ISBN 0670821411
- ^ Summer 1997: 75 Years of National Baseball Broadcasts
- ^ Radio Baseball That Never Was...
- ^ Gordon McLendon
- ^ The Liberty Broadcasting System
- ^ End of Liberty—TIME, June 9, 1952
- ^ Flashing Back...
- ^ Voices of the World Series: Television and Radio
- ^ a b Major League Baseball CBS Radio History
- ^ MLB on ESPN Radio
- ^ JOSE CANSECO CLAIMS SAMMY SOSA AND MARK McGWIRE TOOK STEROIDS DURING 1998 HOME RUN CHASE ON XM SATELLITE RADIO'S MLB HOME PLATE CHANNEL; PETE ROSE TELLS XM HE SUSPECTS CANSECO MOTIVATED BY MONEY
- ^ MLB Home Plate FAQs
- ^ Pioneer—TIME, September 3, 1945
Links to related articles Major League Baseball on the radioMajor League Baseball owned and operated entities: MLB Network RadioLocal broadcasters: Atlanta Braves Radio Network · Baltimore Orioles Radio Network · Boston Red Sox Radio Network · Chicago Cubs Radio Network · Cincinnati Reds Radio Network · Detroit Tigers Radio Network · Los Angeles Angels Radio Network · Los Angeles Dodgers Radio Network · Miami Marlins Radio Network · New York Yankees Radio Network · Philadelphia Phillies Radio Network · Pittsburgh Pirates Radio Network · Seattle Mariners Radio Network · Tampa Bay Rays Radio Network · Toronto Blue Jays Radio Network
Current broadcastersInternational broadcasters: BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra
Major League Baseball on Mutual Related programs Related articlesMajor League Baseball on the radio Commentators Key figuresMel Allen · Red Barber · Buddy Blattner · Jack Brickhouse · Jim Britt · Dizzy Dean · Jimmy Dudley · Don Dunphy · Bob Elson · Gene Elston · Earl Gillespie · Art Gleeson · Gabriel Heatter · Al Helfer · Fred Hoey · Waite Hoyt · Gene Kirby · France Laux · Arch McDonald · Bob Neal · Van Patrick · Bill Slater · Bob Wolff Lore All-Star Game World Series Major League Baseball on CBS Radio Related programs Related articlesMajor League Baseball on the radio Commentators Key figuresMel Allen · Sparky Anderson · Johnny Bench · Marty Brennaman · Steve Busby · Jack Buck · Boake Carter · Rick Cerone · Gary Cohen · Jerry Coleman · Al Downing · Win Elliot · Bob Elson · Gene Elston · Curt Gowdy · Jack Graney · Ernie Harwell · Fred Hoey · Jim Hunter · Ted Husing · Harry Kalas · Ralph Kiner · France Laux · Denny Matthews · Frank Messer · Bob Murphy · Brent Musburger · Ned Martin · Lindsey Nelson · Ross Porter · Brooks Robinson · John Rooney · Herb Score · Vin Scully · Duke Snider · Dick Stockton · Jeff Torborg · Bill White LoreWorld Series games AL Championship Series NL Championship Series AL Division Series NL Division Series All-Star Game World Series Major League Baseball on ESPN Radio Play-by-play Analysts Studio hostsJoe D'Ambrosio (1998-present) AL Championship Series NL Championship Series AL Division Series NL Division Series All-Star Game World Series Related programs Commentators Lore1998 Major League Baseball home run record chase · The Flip Play · The Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty · Steve Bartman · Yankees – Red Sox rivalry · Curse of the Bambino · Curse of the Billy Goat · Final game at Yankee Stadium · "The Bug Game" · Roy Halladay's postseason no-hitter · Death of Osama bin LadenTie-breaker games Related articlesMajor League Baseball on the radio • Home Run Derby Major League Baseball on Liberty Related programs Related articlesMajor League Baseball on the radio Key figures Lore Major League Baseball on NBC Radio Related programs Related articlesMajor League Baseball on the radio Commentators Key figuresMel Allen · Red Barber · Ford Bond · Marty Brennaman · Warren Brown · Harry Caray · Phillips Carlin · Boake Carter · Ken Coleman · Joe Garagiola · Curt Gowdy · Ernie Harwell · Wait Hoyt · George Kell · Ned Martin · Graham McNamee · Al Michaels · Monte Moore · Bob Murphy · Bill O'Donnell · Ross Porter · Bob Prince · Jack Quinlan · Pee Wee Reese · Phil Rizzuto · By Saam · Jim Simpson · Chuck Thompson · Ty Tyson · Bob Wolff Lore All-Star Game World Series Related articles Commentators Key figures World Series
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