On August 5, 1921, baseball made its broadcast debut over KDKA Pittsburgh, America’s first radio station. On this date a new player joined the team: the baseball broadcaster — a mix of actor, writer, director, producer, cameraman, and salesman. Drawing fans to the park, both in body and spirit, these men in the catbird seat shaped how generations learned baseball. The rich, timeless voices of these announcers are captured in The Storytellers: From Mel Allen to Bob Costas: Sixty Years of Baseball Tales from the Broadcast Booth. (Macmillan, 1995, 278 pages, $22.95.)
The Storytellers are baseball’s play-by-play and color men who have created the lore and legends of the game. From the days of static-filled radio to today’s international TV coverage, these wizards of the microphone have shaped our favorite pastime. Assembled in this terrific collection, great announcers from all over America share some of their favorite stories about the job — their best games, most admired players, preferred parks, biggest flubs, and more.
From legendary Hall of Famers such as Mel Allen, Ernie Harwell, Lindsey Nelson, and Harry Caray to today’s breed of broadcasters including Bob Costas, Jon Miller, Dave O’Brien, and Dave Van Horne, more than 75 mikemen recount their memories of childhood, breaking into the business, and their words of wisdom on baseball now. Read how Bob Wolff’s inability to pour beer neatly on the air almost cost him his job; why Charlie Jones needed to invent a twin; and what led Harwell and Leo Durocher to blows.
Find out how announcers feel about owners, umpires, and corporate sponsors, as well as their thoughts about life on the road and the future of the game. Despite their differences in approach, personality, style, and emphasis, these broadcasters are still in the most important way alike: still our friend at the ball park. In The Storytellers, we welcome them once again.