Three Stations Did Baseball Play-by-Play

By Absher, Frank | St. Louis Journalism Review, March-April 2009 | Go to article overview

Three Stations Did Baseball Play-by-Play


Absher, Frank, St. Louis Journalism Review


In the early days of baseball broadcasting, there was no sophistication. It was every station for itself, with three different stations broadcasting all the games in St. Louis.

At first, in 1926, it seemed the baseball clubs gave no thought to having radio broadcast their games. KMOX assigned an announcer to go to the ballpark and give the listeners periodic summaries of what was happening, but this practice was stopped after a few weeks because the station balked at the expense of the service.

Later that year, the Cardinals won the World Series in seven games, and local listeners could hear some of the games through a national chain broadcast.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

As a result of this success on the diamond, the next year attitudes changed, and three radio stations were at Sportsman's Park broadcasting play-by-play for all Cardinals' and Browns' home games. On KMOX, listeners heard Garnett Marks (although he took air names requested by his sponsors--Rhino Bill and Otto Buick). KWK's general manager Thomas Patrick Convey did duty under the air name Thomas Patrick. William Ellsworth announced for WIL.

Listeners had their choice, based on which announcer they preferred. These announcers and their engineers had to set up, not in the ballpark, but on the roofs of buildings near the park. Within a few months, Western Union lines were installed and all three stations were invited inside the park.

But two years later management of one station in the trio had a change of heart.

WIL's William Ellsworth announced his station would no longer carry baseball. He told a Globe-Democrat reporter a special music program would instead be broadcast on game days. …

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