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Crack of the Bat

A History of Baseball on the Radio

James R. Walker

Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
Imprint: University of Nebraska Press
Published: 05/2015
Pages: 328
Subject: Sports and Recreation
eBook ISBN: 9780803277410


The crack of the bat on the radio is ingrained in the American mind as baseball takes center stage each summer. Radio has brought the sounds of baseball into homes for almost one hundred years, helping baseball emerge from the 1919 Black Sox scandal into the glorious World Series of the 1920s. The medium gave fans around the country aural access to the first All-Star Game, Lou Gehrig's farewell speech, and Bobby Thomson's "Shot Heard 'Round the World." Red Barber, Vin Scully, Harry Caray, Ernie Harwell, Bob Uecker, and dozens of other beloved announcers helped cement the love affair between radio and the national pastime. Crack of the Bat takes readers from the 1920s to the present, examining the role of baseball in the development of the radio industry and the complex coevolution of their relationship. James R. Walker provides a balanced, nuanced, and carefully documented look at radio and baseball over the past century, focusing on the interaction between team owners, local and national media, and government and business interests, with extensive coverage of the television and Internet ages, when baseball on the radio had to make critical adjustments to stay viable. Despite cable television's ubiquity, live video streaming, and social media, radio remains an important medium through which fans engage with their teams. The evolving relationship between baseball and radio intersects with topics as varied as the twenty-year battle among owners to control radio, the development of sports as a valuable media product, and the impact of competing technologies on the broadcast medium. Amid these changes, the familiar sounds of the ball hitting the glove and the satisfying crack of the bat stay the same.Purchase the audio edition.


James R. Walker is a professor emeritus and former chair of the Department of Communication at Saint Xavier University. He is the coauthor of Center Field Shot: A History of Baseball on Television (Nebraska, 2008) and The Broadcast Television Industry. Pat Hughes has been the radio voice of the Chicago Cubs since 1996.


“Once upon a time you had to go to a ballpark to experience a ball game. Today most of us enjoy baseball across several media, and almost always alone. A game on radio—or via television or Internet or news account—is not as good as being part of the crowd at the ballpark, but what is? This book. James Walker traces the history of baseball on the radio with unmatched love and erudition.” —John Thorn, official historian of Major League Baseball and author of Baseball in the Garden of Eden

“A uniquely comprehensive and valuable account of baseball’s radio history, Crack of the Bat also reminds us just how compelling baseball broadcasts can be in the hands of its skilled announcers. Video may have killed other radio celebrities, but today’s fans of the national pastime can listen to more “radio stars” than ever before.”—Pat Hughes, radio voice of the Chicago Cubs