The Storytellers

On August 5, 1921, baseball made its broadcast debut over KDKA Pittsburgh, America’s first commercially licensed radio station. On that date, a new player joined the team: the baseball broadcaster—a blend of actor, writer, director, producer, cameraman, and salesman. From what Red Barber styled “the Catbird Seat,” the rhetoric of these Voices became in large part how generations learned baseball, captured in The Storytellers: From Mel Allen to Bob Costas: Sixty Years of Baseball Tales from the Broadcast Booth. (Macmillan, 1995, 278 pages)

The Storytellers lore and legends made the game seem by turn more dramatic, comical, and mythic, yet at the same time, human. From old static-filled radio to today’s international TV, the wizards of the microphone share this terrific collection of favorite stories about the craft—their best games, most admired players, preferred parks, biggest flubs, and more.

From such household names as Allen, Harry Caray, Ernie Harwell, and Lindsey Nelson to a 1990s younger breed of Costas, Jon Miller, Jim Kaat, and Mel Proctor, more than 75 mic men tell yarns about youth, cracking the business, and their perspective on the pastime. Read what led Harwell and Leo Durocher to blows, why Charlie Jones needed to invent a twin, and how Bob Wolff’s inability to pour beer neatly on TV almost cost his job.

Learn how announcers feel about owners, umpires, and corporate sponsors, as well as life on the road and the future of the sport. It is true that Voices differ in approach, personality, style, and emphasis—also that they are alike in the most crucial way: still our friend at the ballpark. In The Storytellers, we welcome them again.