Major League Baseball on the radio

Major League Baseball on the radio has been a tradition for almost 80 years,[1] 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.

History

Early period

1920s

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.[2][3][4][5][6][1] That year, KDKA and WJZ of Newark broadcast the first World Series on the radio, between the New York Giants and the New York Yankees, with Grantland Rice and Tommy Cowan calling the games for KDKA and WJZ, respectively.[3][4][5] However, the broadcasters were not actually present at the game, but simply gave reports from a telegraph wire.[3] In 1922, WJZ broadcast the entire series, with Rice doing play-by-play.[4][5] For the 1923 World Series, Rice was joined on Westinghouse for the first time by Graham McNamee.[3][7]

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.[5][7] This was the start of McNamee's career, and McNamee became the first color commentator.[8] Although frequently criticized for his lack of expertise, McNamee helped popularize baseball.[3][7][9][10]

1930s

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 US$400,000. Landis, as ever, was imperious; he dismissed Ted Husing as games announcer despite the fact that, with five World Series, 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,[5] and the Chicago Cubs broadcast all of their games on WMAQ in 1935.[3][11][12] The last holdouts were the New York teams—the Giants, Dodgers, and Yankees combined to block radio broadcasts of their games until 1938.[3][5]

By the end of this period, radio had become increasingly commercialized. Wheaties started its long relationship with baseball in 1933,[13] and in 1934, sponsorship rights to the World Series were first sold.[14][15]

Golden age

During the Golden Age of Radio, television sports broadcasting was in its infancy, and radio was still the main form of broadcasting baseball.[12] 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.[16] The Liberty Broadcasting System operated solely through recreations of games, because live games were too expensive.[17] Gordon McLendon broadcast games throughout the South from 1948 until 1952, when new blackout regulations forced him to stop.[14][18][19] The Mutual Broadcasting System also broadcast a Game of the Day in the 1950s.[14][20]

Modern period

However, as the Golden Era wound down, radio was gradually eclipsed by television.[12] The World Series continued to be broadcast on the radio, with NBC Radio covering the Series from 19601975, and CBS Radio from 1976–1997.[21] However, after Mutual's Game of the Day ended in 1960 there would not be regular-season baseball broadcast nationally on the radio until 1985, when CBS Radio started a Game of the Week.[22]

Since 1981 the two teams' flagship radio stations were regularly permitted to produce their own local World Series live broadcasts. The affiliate stations in the teams' radio networks continued to be obligated to carry the national broadcasts.

In 1998, national radio broadcasts moved to ESPN Radio.[22] ESPN Radio currently broadcasts games on most weekends.[23] Sister network ESPN Deportes Radio airs Spanish-language coverage of Sunday Night Baseball and the World Series.

Since 2005, Major League Baseball has a partnership with XM Satellite Radio, launching a 24-7 channel MLB Home Plate which carries every major league game.[24] [25] Games are also carried on MLB Gameday Audio.[26]

While all teams maintain a network of stations carrying their games in English, many teams also maintain a Spanish-language network as well. In addition, when the Washington Nationals were based in Montreal as the Montreal Expos, their games were broadcast in both English and French. Selected games of the Los Angeles Dodgers are broadcast in Korean by KMPC. [27]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Detroit's WWJ also claimed to have broadcast the first baseball game, as well as the 1920 World Series.[28]

References

  1. ^ Walker and Hughes, James R. and Pat (1 May 2015). Crack of the Bat: A History of Baseball on the Radio. U of Nebraska Press.
  2. ^ KDKA Firsts
  3. ^ a b c d e f g On the Air
  4. ^ a b c TSB Heritage Archived 2007-09-28 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ a b c d e f Radio and its Impact on the Sports World
  6. ^ First Radio Broadcast of a Baseball Game
  7. ^ a b c RW Special Report
  8. ^ Frick winner to be announced
  9. ^ Book Review
  10. ^ VoicesTIME, October 3, 1927
  11. ^ A look back at the Q. Archived 2007-09-27 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ a b c Baseball, Radio, and Jackie Robinson Archived 2007-07-03 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ General Mills: History of Innovation Archived 2010-02-15 at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ a b c Diz by Robert Gregory ISBN 0-670-82141-1
  15. ^ Summer 1997: 75 Years of National Baseball Broadcasts Archived 2007-06-25 at Archive.today
  16. ^ Radio Baseball That Never Was...
  17. ^ Gordon McLendon
  18. ^ The Liberty Broadcasting System
  19. ^ End of LibertyTIME, June 9, 1952
  20. ^ Flashing Back...
  21. ^ "Voices of the World Series: Television and Radio". Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2007-07-15.
  22. ^ a b Major League Baseball CBS Radio History
  23. ^ MLB on ESPN Radio
  24. ^ 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 Archived 2007-10-09 at the Wayback Machine
  25. ^ MLB Home Plate FAQs Archived 2007-09-26 at the Wayback Machine
  26. ^ Gameday Audio
  27. ^ https://www.mlb.com/dodgers/schedule/radio-network
  28. ^ PioneerTIME, September 3, 1945

External links

Angels Radio Network

The Angels Radio Network is a network of 7 radio stations that air Major League Baseball games of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. As of September 2018, 6 stations broadcast games in English, while another broadcasts them in Spanish.

Arizona Diamondbacks Radio Networks

The Arizona Diamondbacks Radio Networks are 2 radio networks, of 24 total stations with 2 F.M. translators, carrying games of the Arizona Diamondbacks. There is an English-language network consisting of 20 stations and a Spanish-language network of five stations, including four in Mexico. The English-language network originates at KTAR/620 and KMVP-FM/98.7 in Phoenix, Arizona, while the Spanish-language network originates at KHOV-FM/105.1 serving Phoenix. The main play-by-play announcer on the English-language network is Greg Schulte. The color analyst is former major-leaguer Tom Candiotti. The games' pre- & post-game host is Jeff Munn who also fills in on play-by-play. On the Spanish-language network, the play-by-play announcer is Oscar Soria and the color analyst is Miguel Quintana. Arturo Ochoa is the fill-in Spanish play-by-play announcer, and the fill-in color analyst is Richard Saenz.

Baltimore Orioles Radio Network

The Baltimore Orioles Radio Network comprises 39 stations in five states and the District of Columbia.The Orioles' flagship station is WJZ-FM/105.7 FM. For the 2019 MLB season, Jim Hunter will call play by play for the majority of games, with ESPN broadcaster Kevin Brown stepping in for approximately 50 games in his first season on the Orioles Radio Network. Hunter takes the primary role calling Orioles radio broadcasts following the retirement of Joe Angel, "The Voice of the Orioles" since 2004. All 162 regular season baseball games are currently broadcast throughout the network.

Chicago Cubs Radio Network

The Chicago Cubs Radio Network comprises 30 stations in six states.Pat Hughes has been the play-by-play announcer since 1996. From 1996 to 2010, Hughes was partnered with Ron Santo. After Santo's death, Keith Moreland took over as color analyst, lasting three seasons (2011–13). Ron Coomer became the color analyst in 2014. Zach Zaidman handles the Cubs Central pre- and post-game shows, and takes over the play-by-play for the fifth inning of most games. Cubs television play-by-play announcer Len Kasper joins the radio network to call the fifth inning of nationally televised games featuring the team, such as Sunday Night Baseball and postseason contests.

All 162 regular season baseball games, some spring training games, and all postseason games are broadcast by the network, though not all affiliates distribute the entire slate. The games are transmitted to stations via C-Band satellite service on AMC-8.

From 1925 to 2014 (continuously from 1958 to 2014), the Cubs' flagship station was WGN, 720 AM, the lone radio station of the Tribune Company (which for many years simultaneously owned the Cubs, TV station WGN-TV and its national superstation, and the local newspaper from which it gets its name, the Chicago Tribune). When it was part of the Tribune Radio Network, the network's non-sports programming included the National Farm Report, a farm news feature hosted by Orion Samuelson; Samuelson Sez (a weekly commentary hosted by Samuelson); and Farming America, a farm news feature hosted by Steve Alexander (previously by Max Armstrong).

In 2015, the Cubs' broadcast rights moved to CBS Radio after Tribune Co. declined to renew its longstanding broadcast rights. The 2015 season was broadcast by WBBM. After sister station WSCR's loss of radio rights to broadcast the Chicago White Sox games to WLS in July 2015, it was widely expected that the Cubs would move to WSCR as a replacement. This move was confirmed by CBS Radio on November 11, 2015 and finalized before the start of the 2016 Cubs season. Through WSCR, the games also air on the FM dial via HD Radio through WSCR's subchannel on WBMX (104.3-HD2).

Chicago White Sox Radio Network

The Chicago White Sox Radio Network is an American radio network airing baseball games from the Chicago White Sox. The English-language flagship is WGN (720 AM) Chicago, with Spanish language coverage airing on WRTO (1200). The English language network consists of 19 stations The play-by-play announcers are Ed Farmer and Jason Benetti (who joins the broadcast team for national broadcasts and for White Sox's games where Ken Harrelson and Chuck Swirsky fills-in for him); the color commentator is Darrin Jackson.WSCR's contract with the White Sox expired after the 2015 season. As first reported by Robert Feder of www.robertfeder.com, WLS (AM) 890, was to be the new White Sox flagship station from the 2016 through the 2021 seasons. However, WLS owner Cumulus Media filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in November 2017 and entered into a restructuring agreement with certain of its lenders to reduce more than $1 billion in debt. The Bankruptcy Court allowed Cumulus and WLS to end its contract with the White Sox. WGN became the new flagship station of the Chicago White Sox on February 14, 2018.

Colorado Rockies Radio Network

The Colorado Rockies Radio Network consists of 34 stations (24 A.M., 10 F.M.) plus 2 F.M. boosters and 10 F.M. translators in 6 western states. The English language announcers are Jack Corrigan, Jerry Schemmel & Mike Rice. In addition to in-game duties, Corrigan hosts "Rockies Q&A" & Rice hosts "The Rockies Dugout Show".

Detroit Tigers Radio Network

The Detroit Tigers Radio Network is a network of radio stations in Michigan, Northwest Ohio and Northern Indiana that air Major League Baseball's Detroit Tigers games and related programming. The network airs all 162 regular season games and all postseason games. Dan Dickerson does play-by-play on the broadcasts and former Tiger catcher Jim Price does color commentary. Jeff Riger is the studio host. The flagship stations are WXYT (1270 AM) and WXYT-FM (97.1 FM) in Detroit.

Houston Astros Radio Network

The Houston Astros Radio Network is an American broadcast network of radio affiliates in operation since 1962 that broadcast coverage of the Houston Astros before, during, and after that team's games. Radio content is broadcast in both the English and Spanish languages. It consists of 26 stations (and 4 broadcast relay stations) that span across three states with its English flagship station as KBME and its Spanish flagship station as K231CE (an FM translator fed by an HD Radio signal of KODA), both in Houston. In addition to its affiliates, Houston Astros Radio Network content can be listened to on satellite radio via Sirius XM Radio and online using both MLB.tv and Sirius XM Internet Radio.

Sports commentators for the network are Robert Ford and Steve Sparks in English and Francisco Romero and Alex Treviño in Spanish. Astros games returned to KTRH in 2019, while also continuing to air on 790, KBME.

List of Major League Baseball on ESPN Radio broadcasters

Listed below is a list of Major League Baseball on ESPN Radio broadcasters by both name and year since the program's debut on ESPN Radio in 1998.

Los Angeles Dodgers Radio Network

The Los Angeles Dodgers Radio Network is a network that consists of 27 radio stations that air Major League Baseball games of the Los Angeles Dodgers in parts of seven states and one U.S. territory and in three languages. As of June 2012, 20 stations broadcast games in English, while another six broadcast them in Spanish. In 2013, Korean broadcasts were added, making it the only tri-lingual network in Major League Baseball.

Miami Marlins Radio Network

The Miami Marlins Radio Network is a network of 9 radio stations in Florida that broadcast Major League Baseball games of the Miami Marlins. 8 stations broadcast games in English, while another carries a separate broadcast in Spanish. The English announcers are Dave Van Horne and Glenn Geffner forming the play-by-play team (when the primary often doing more innings than the second man). On the Spanish broadcast, Jose Napoles does play-by-play and Luis Quintanta provides color commentary.

Oakland Athletics Radio Network

The Oakland Athletics Radio Network consists of 17 stations (16 A.M., 1 F.M., plus 1 F.M. booster and 1 F.M. translator) in the state of California. The English-language broadcasts for Oakland Athletics Major League Baseball games start 50 minutes before game time on KTRB only with the network broadcast beginning 20 minutes prior to game time. Additionally, there is a 4-station Spanish-language network (all A.M.) with affiliates in italics. The Spanish-language network only airs night & weekend home games.

Philadelphia Phillies Radio Network

The Philadelphia Phillies Radio Network is a network of 21 radio stations in Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey that air Major League Baseball games of the Philadelphia Phillies. The lead announcers are Scott Franzke with play-by-play and Larry Andersen with color commentary. The flagship station is WIP-FM 94.1 in Philadelphia. The broadcasts were discontinued on the former AM flagship station WPHT 1210 in 2016.WTTM in Lindenwold, New Jersey and WIBG in Atlantic City, New Jersey also airs a separate broadcast in Spanish. Angel Castillo is the play by play announcer, while Bill Kulik provides color commentary.

Pittsburgh Pirates Radio Network

The Pittsburgh Pirates, the Major League Baseball franchise in Pittsburgh are carried on radio stations throughout four states including Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and Maryland. In 2012, KDKA-FM in Pittsburgh became the flagship station, replacing WPGB-FM., KDKA-AM also airs Pirates Games when 93.7 does Pittsburgh Panthers Coverage. Greg Brown and Joe Block does play by play. They are joined by either Steve Blass (for home games only) or John Wehner (for all road games and some home games).

San Francisco Giants Radio Network

The San Francisco Giants Radio Network is the radio network of the San Francisco Giants. There are 12 stations (seven AM, three FM, and two FM translators) in the English-language network, including the flagship KNBR/680 AM. Additionally, KXZM/93.7 FM carries the team's broadcasts in Spanish, bringing the total number of radio stations carrying Giants baseball to 13. The network is identified on-air as the KNBR Northern California Honda Dealers Radio Network.

Announcers include Jon Miller, Dave Flemming, Duane Kuiper, and Mike Krukow on the English-language broadcasts, with Erwin Higueros, Tito Fuentes, and Marvin Benard handling Spanish-language duties.

Tampa Bay Rays Radio Network

The Tampa Bay Rays Radio Network is a 21-station radio network (19 A.M, 2 F.M. plus 2 F.M. translators) in the southeastern United States and Pennsylvania that broadcasts baseball games and related programming for the Tampa Bay Rays of Major League Baseball. Additionally, there is a 2-station Spanish language network which brings the number of radio stations carrying the Tampa Bay Rays to 23. Since 2009, WDAE/620 in St. Petersburg, Florida, has served as the flagship station for the network.In addition, WGES/680 in St. Petersburg, Florida airs games in Spanish but is not part of the network.

The Baseball Show

The Baseball Show is a Major League Baseball talk show on ESPN Radio. It is heard every Sunday for three hours and thirty-five minutes from 4 p.m. ET to 7:35 p.m. ET during the Major League Baseball regular season. The program is hosted by GameNight personality Ryen Russillo (since 2007) and featured former New York Mets GM and former Baseball Tonight analyst Steve Phillips until his firing from ESPN. The show was previously hosted by Karl Ravech in 2005 and John Seibel in 2006.

For affiliates carrying the Sunday Night Baseball game on radio, The Baseball Show goes on leading up to the games at 8 p.m. ET.

Throughout the program, Russillo discusses some of the biggest stories in baseball and updates you on all of the happening around the league. They are often joined by either players or coaches following the games to get instant reaction. Dan Shulman joins the program weekly to discuss the Sunday Night Baseball game, which he calls on ESPN Radio. The Baseball Tonight update anchor is Joe D'Ambrosio.

For the 2008 post-season, ESPN Radio had SportsNation on ESPN Radio replaced for The Baseball Show on Tuesday through Thursday, typically leading up to the ESPN Radio baseball pre-game show for the late game, but hosts John Seibel and former MLB player Orestes Destrade kept the same responsibilities they have for SportsNation by hosting the 2​1⁄2 show, mostly focusing on baseball but with occasional football talk due to the season.

Toronto Blue Jays Radio Network

The Toronto Blue Jays Radio Network consists of 19 stations (16 AM, 3 FM) in 8 Canadian Provinces. Following the sudden retirement of long-time play by play man Jerry Howarth on February 13, 2018, the English language announcer is former Buffalo Bisons announcer, Ben Wagner[1], alongside Mike Wilner. Former radio analyst Joe Siddal, moved to the television side of coverage. Additionally, CKAC broadcasts some games in French. This brings the total number of stations carrying Blue Jays baseball to 20. The Blue Jays Radio Network specifically refers to the English-language network originating at CJCL.

Washington Nationals Radio Network

The Washington Nationals radio network is a United States radio network airing Washington Nationals baseball games in the mid-Atlantic region of the United States. The Washington Nationals Radio Network consists of 18 full-powered stations (15 AM, 3 FM) supplemented by 8 analog AM-to-FM translators and 3 digital HD subchannels. The flagship is WJFK-FM/106.7.

The Nationals' broadcast team consists of play-by-play announcer Charlie Slowes & color announcer Dave Jageler. Additionally, Byron Kerr hosts "Nats Insider" & Phil Wood hosts "Nats Talk Live".

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