They are the voices in the evening, the play-by-play announcers, whose calls have spouted from radio speakers after August 5, 1921 when Harold Arlin named the very first baseball game over Pittsburgh’s KDKA. That spring, Arlin made the premier college football broadcast. Thereafter, radio microphones found their way into arenas as well as stadiums worldwide.
The initial three decades of radio sportscasting provided numerous memorable broadcasts.
The 1936 Berlin Olympics were capped by the beautiful performances of Jesse Owens, an African American who won four gold medals, though Adolph Hitler refused to put them on the neck of his. The games had been broadcast in 28 different languages, the first sporting events to achieve world-wide radio coverage.
Many famous sports radio broadcasts followed.
On the sultry evening of June 22, 1938, NBC radio listeners joined 70,043 boxing fans at Yankee Stadium for a heavyweight struggle between champion Joe Louis and Germany’s Max Schmeling. After just 124 seconds listeners were surprised to listen to NBC commentator Ben Grauer growl “And Schmeling is down…and here is the count…” as “The Brown Bomber” scored a beautiful knockout.
In 1939, New York Yankees captain Lou Gehrig created the famous farewell speech of his at Yankee Stadium. Baseball’s “iron man”, who earlier had ended the record of his 2,130 consecutive games played streak, was identified with ALS, a chronic disease. That Fourth of July broadcast included the popular line of his, “…today, I consider myself probably the luckiest man on the face of the earth”.
The 1947 World Series provided one of the more famous sports radio broadcasts of all time. In game six, with the Brooklyn Dodgers best the New York Yankees, the Dodgers inserted Al Gionfriddo in center field. With 2 males on base Yankee slugger Joe DiMaggio, representing the tying run, came to bat. In probably the most unforgettable calls of all time, broadcaster Red Barber described what happened next:
“Here’s the pitch. Swung on, belted…it’s a long one to deep left center. Back goes Reddit MMA Streams , back, back, back, back, back…and…HE MAKES A ONE HANDED CATCH AGAINST THE BULLPEN! Oh, doctor!”
Barber’s “Oh, doctor!” grew to become a catchphrase, as did many others coined by announcers. Some of the most famous sports radio broadcasts are recalled because of those phrases. Cardinals and Cubs voice Harry Caray’s “It may be, it can be, it is…a home run” is a basic. So are pioneer hockey broadcaster Foster Hewitt’s “He shoots! He scores!”, Boston Bruins voice Johnny Best’s “He diddles…” and fiddles, Marv Albert’s “Yes!”
Several announcers are actually very great with words that specific phrases have been unnecessary. On April 8, 1974 Los Angeles Dodgers voice Vin Scully watched as Atlanta’s Henry Aaron hit home run number 715, a new track record. Scully simply stated, “Fast ball, there’s a high fly to deep left center field…Buckner goes to the fence…it is…gone!”, then got up to purchase a drink of water as the group and fireworks thundered.
Announcers seldom dye their broadcasts with creative phrases today as well as sports video is now pervasive. Still, radio’s voices in the evening follow the trails paved by noteworthy sports broadcasters of previous times.