Contributor David Barnes reflects on listening to baseball on the radio.
The best thing about baseball is that baseball is summer. And not just summer, but summer on the radio…
As a boy, I grew up on WHDH and Curt Gowdy. Even though the teams weren’t particularly good in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, there was a sense of bonding that came along with Gowdy’s voice that took me years to understand. Everywhere you went in New England, if the Sawx were playing a game, there was someone who had the radio on and as long as you weren’t a Yankees fan, you had enough in common to be kin.
My Red Sox years are long behind me but the connectivity of baseball on the radio is not limited to the Red Sox or even the east coast. You can debate many things about San Fracisco’s AM-leader KNBR, but one thing that’s unassailable is the station’s reach. Whether you’re in the city or Santa Rosa or Monterrey, if the Giants are playing, somebody’s got it on. Kruik and Kuip and Jon and Flem? They’re within reach and happy to help you find friends. If you’re a fan of the A’s (me), you’ll have a harder time finding the signal but once you do, you get the underrated Ken Korach and Vince Cotroneo. Occasionally you’ll hear Ray Fosse and the other Kuip (Glen), who have the television duties for Oakland.
Baseball in the Bay has a long and storied history, beginning all the way back in 1903. The glories of the Pacific Coast League, where some teams played close to 200 games in a season in the early years, are a big part of that has been the big-quality radio teams. Bill King, Lon Simmons and countless others have blessed us with their renditions of “the summer game” and are worthy of their own post but I’ll stop here as I believe there’s a game on the radio…
David Barnes grew up around Boston and has lived in the Bay Area for decades. He understands the beauty of both coasts, but prefers the mild climate of the Bay Area.