Voices of the Game
For more than nine decades, broadcasters have been the spirit and backbone of America’s favorite pastime. Whether it be a whole family gathering around the radio to hear Mel Allen’s depiction of a Mickey Mantle homer to today’s remote control-wielding fan flipping from Fox’s Joe Buck to The Baseball Network’s Bob Costas, no other medium has had the power to consistently bring a nation together like baseball’s welcome beckoner of a thousand afternoons.
In 1992, baseball expert Curt Smith’s monumental work, Voices of The Game (Fireside Books/Simon and Schuster Trade Paperback, 642 pages, $15), was updated to include major and minor broadcast events from radio’s first game in 1921 on KDKA Pittsburgh to the curent cable TV universe. It covers the sport’s complete broadcast history and details the careers of more than one hundred of its greatest characters. Smith brings to life such titanic voices as Allen, Costas, Red Barber, Vin Scully, Dizzy Dean, and Harry Caray.
Moreover, Voices of The Game expertly weaves together the social, political, and cultural climate of the time with baseball history, placing the broadcasters in historical context. For example, Smith shows how Armed Forces Radio linked the World Series to World War II troops overseas; how Dean’s rustic humor on the 1953-65 Game of the Week stirred small-town America; and how the 1990s decision to kill Saturday’s Game severely hurt the sport.
With vivid detail, Smith recreates the play-by-play announcing of baseball’s most theatric moments, explores network and franchise politics, reveals stories behind major hirings and firings, and documents how the dramatic shift from network TV to local and cable reliance has shrunk baseball’s national presence. “This book was a masterpiece,” the New York Post‘s Phil Mushnick said, looking back. No baseball library should be without the updated version of the seminal Voices of The Game.