For more than eight 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 description of Mickey Mantle homer to today's remote control-wielding fan flipping from ESPN's Jon Miller to Fox's Joe Buck, no other medium has had the power to consistently bring a nation together like baseball's welcome beckoner of a thousand afternoons.
Baseball expert Curt Smith's monumental work, Voices of The Game (Fireside Books/Simon and Schuster Trade Paperback, 1992, 642 pages, $15), has been updated to include major and minor broadcast events from radio's first game in 1921 on KDKA Pittsburgh to today's cable TV universe. It covers the sport's complete broadcast history and details the careers of more than 100 of its greatest characters. Smith brings to life such voices as Allen, Bob 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 times 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 oversees; how Dean's rustic humor on the 1955-64 Game of the Week stirred small-town America; and how the 1990s decision to kill Game severely hurt baseball.
With vivid detail, Smith recreates the play-by-play announcing of baseball's most dramatic moments, explores network and franchise politics, reveals stories behind major hirings and firings, and documents how the dramatic shift from emphasizing national network TV exposure to dependence on local and cable broadcasters has shrunk baseball's national presence.
No baseball library should be without the completely updated version of Voices of The Game.