They are the voices in the evening, the play-by-play announcers, whose calls have spouted from radio speakers after August five, 1921 when Harold Arlin known as the original baseball game over Pittsburgh’s KDKA. That fall, Arlin made the premier college football broadcast. Thereafter, stereo microphones found their way into stadiums and arenas worldwide.
The initial 3 years of radio sportscasting provided many memorable broadcasts.
The 1936 Berlin Olympics were capped by the gorgeous performances of Jesse Owens, an African-American who won 4 gold medals, nevertheless, Adolph Hitler refused to put them on his neck. The games had been broadcast in twenty eight different languages, the 1st sporting events to achieve worldwide radio coverage.
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Many famous sports radio broadcasts followed.
On the sultry night of June twenty two, 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 only 124 seconds listeners were surprised to listen to NBC commentator Ben Grauer growl “And Schmeling is down…and here’s the count…” as “The Brown Bomber” scored a beautiful knockout.
In 1939, New York Yankees captain Lou Gehrig developed the famous farewell speech of his at Yankee Stadium. Baseball’s “iron man”, who earlier had ended his record 2,130 consecutive games played streak, was identified with ALS, a chronic disease. That Fourth of July broadcast included the well known line of his, “…today, I consider myself the luckiest male on the face of the earth”.
The 1947 World Series provided by far the most famous sports radio broadcasts of all time. In game 6, with the Brooklyn Dodgers reputable the New York Yankees, the Dodgers inserted Al Gionfriddo in center field. With 2 men on base Yankee slugger Joe DiMaggio, representing the tying run, came to bat. In essentially the most memorable calls of all time, broadcaster Red Barber described what happened next:
“Here’s the pitch. Swung on, belted…it’s much an individual to deep left center. Back goes Gionfriddo…back, back, back, back, back, back…and…HE MAKES A ONE-HANDED CATCH AGAINST THE BULLPEN! Oh, doctor!”
Barber’s “Oh, doctor!” evolved into a catchphrase, as did many others coined by announcers. Several of the most well known sports radio broadcasts are remembered due to those phrases. Cardinals and Cubs voice Harry Caray’s “It could be, it may be, it is…a home run” is a standard. So are pioneer hockey broadcaster Foster Hewitt’s “He shoots! He scores!”, Boston Bruins voice Johnny Best’s “He diddles…” as well as fiddles, Marv Albert’s “Yes!”
Some announcers are actually very great with vocabulary that specific phrases have been unnecessary. On April eight, 1974 Los Angeles Dodgers voice Vin Scully watched as Atlanta’s Henry Aaron hit home run number 715, a new track record. Scully just stated, “Fast ball, there’s a very high fly to deep left center field…Buckner goes to the fence…it is…gone!”, then got up to get a drink of water as the bunch and fireworks thundered.
Announcers hardly ever color the broadcasts of theirs with inventive phrases now as well as sports video is now pervasive. Still, radio’s voices in the night follow the trails paved by noteworthy sports broadcasters of previous times.