Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Book Excerpt on Baseball Broadcasting

Reading Red Smith's superb collection of baseball stories, I came across one example on how the famed Baseball announcer, Red Barber, would re-create a game on the radio. I found it interesting for because even though he would recreate a ballgame using telegraph reports, it sounded an awfully lot like recreating a game nowadays via a twitter feed or text message. 
-The Archer
"This is just a business," Mr. Barber explained before the wire opened up for
the third game of Brooklyn's series in St. Louis. "We don't try to fake it.
We have the telegraph sounder right in here near the microphone where it can
be heard because we don't kid the listeners this is anything but a
telegraphed report.

"From spring training on, Connie Desmond [Barber's co-announcer] and I are
studying the mannerisms of the players in the National League and memorizing
them so that when we do a [re-created] game we can visualize them on the
field. For instance, I remember how Ed Stanky stands at the plate, how he
crouches lower and lower when he's trying for a base on balls. So when I
describe it over the air I'm not faking. I know he's doing that."

For a 'reconstructed' game a telegraph operator in the studio copies the wire
report on a typewriter. Barber stands beside him talking into a microphone
which is hung over [a lecturn] . . . although Barber sits down in his booth
at Ebbets Field, he prefers to stand in the airless studio . . .

At his elbow, propped up on a sort of music rack, are the lineups of the two
teams with the current batting average of each player . . .

Here's the way Barber builds up a play:

The telegraph types: 'Reiser up - bats left'

"And here's Reiser," says Red. "Hitting .283, 106 base hits. . ."

The [telegraph] writes: B1 OS [ball one, outside]
"Dickson misses the plate," Barber says. "Ball one."

Smith writes that Barber "doesn't add a pitch or play that doesn't happen. He
merely embroiders each play with words.. . "

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