Throwback Thursday: The Earliest World Series Broadcasts

You can now watch the World Series on a high-definition big screen in your living room, or on a smartphone anywhere. When the game is over, commentary is available nearly everywhere - via talk radio, sports websites, apps and more.

But it wasn't always this way. The first World Series radio broadcast in 1921 was a two-man operation. One guy sat in a radio booth and broadcasted play-by-play calls, relayed by his partner over the phone from the game itself.

By the end of the first broadcast, the broadcaster was so befuddled he didn't know who had won the game. The next year, the two-man system was scrapped in favor of letting famed sportswriter Grantland Rice cover the event on his own.

Early broadcasts were treated like a public service. There were no sponsors and no commercial breaks. As radio audiences grew, though, corporations clamored to buy airtime.

The league initially refused, because they feared fans would object to branding America's national pastime with corporate logos and interrupting broadcasts with sales pitches. But when declining attendance and revenues threatened the league's survival during The Great Depression, Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis signed a $100,000 sponsorship with Ford (worth more than $1,000,000 in today's dollars).

You can find these stories and more in this article by James R. Walker, author of Crack of the Bat: The History of Baseball on the Radio.

And if you like vintage TV broadcasts, check out this classic featuring Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle, and an old-school slow-motion replay.

h/t PBS, The Conversation


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