Magazine article Information Today

Calling Sports on the Radio: Remembering Graham McNamee

Magazine article Information Today

Calling Sports on the Radio: Remembering Graham McNamee

Article excerpt

Your Field Correspondent recently returned to a place where he spent many hours--many misspent hours, if you listen to some editors--covering minor league baseball for the local Word Factory. Sitting in the press box was nostalgic enough, although the dent in the wall that was directly behind my head (courtesy of an errant foul ball) is long gone. But then came the real labor--sitting in with the radio play-by-play guy to make a pitch for my current employer, the local blood bank.

Being around broadcasters all those years helped me develop an appreciation for talking for 4 straight hours, but I had forgotten just how much work it really is. The new occupant of the booth managed to lob softball questions about blood donations, keep up with the play-by-play, check for and relay random statistics, and keep a scorebook too. Plus, he sounded good doing it.

No wonder there's a spot for the very best of his lot at the National Baseball Hall of Fame. It's a heck of a job, and this year's winner of the Ford C. Frick Award was one of the first to do it--and the best. Graham McNamee essentially invented the job of calling sports on the radio, especially baseball.

In 1923, McNamee wandered into the office of what became NBC, looking for a job. Not long after that, it was estimated that his voice had been heard by more people than anyone else's in human history. Now that is pioneering. He called 12 World Series, plus multiple major fights, and he was there for the first coast-to-coast sportscast, the 1927 Rose Bowl.

When he died in 1942, his contributions to broadcasting--not just baseball games, but just about all the notable sports moments for almost 20 years--were well-known. He was in the first class of inductees in the American Sportscasters Association Hall of Fame, but it took the National Radio Hall of Fame until 2011 to add him to its ranks. …

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