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Crack of the BatCrack of the Bat

A History of Baseball on the Radio

James R. Walker

Narrated by Joseph Bevilacqua

Available from Audible


Book published by University of Nebraska Press


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.

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 and The Broadcast Television Industry.

REVIEWS:

Crack of the Bat will give you insight into the nostalgic power of baseball on the radio, and make you realize what you missed”

—Hunter M. Hampton, Sport in American History

Crack of the Bat is a valuable resource for sport and media scholars alike that should encourage more work on sports radio's woefully under examined history.”

Historical Journal of Film, Radio, and Television

“Informed by the literature on the subject and the beneficiary of deep research in archival sources and oral histories, this book is based on sound scholarship, engages the general reader's interest, and will enlighten scholars in their study of the symbiotic relationship between radio and baseball.”

Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society

“Well researched, and equally well written and footnoted, Crack of the Bat is not only a welcome addition to electronic media research but would make an excellent addition to a history of sports in the media classroom.”

American Journalism

Crack of the Bat deserves to be on the reading list for courses in broadcast history and mass communication history.”

Journalism & Mass Communication Educator

“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





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