They are the voices in the night, the play-by-play announcers, whose calls have spouted from radio speakers since August 5, 1921 when Harold Arlin called the first baseball game over Pittsburgh’s KDKA. That fall, Arlin made the premier college football broadcast. Thereafter, radio microphones found their way into stadiums and arenas worldwide.
The first three decades of radio sportscasting provided many memorable broadcasts.
The 1936 Berlin Olympics were capped by the stunning performances of Jesse Owens, an African-American who won four gold medals, although Adolph Hitler refused to place them on his neck. The games were broadcast in 28 different languages, the first sporting events to achieve worldwide radio coverage.
Many famous sports radio broadcasts followed.
On the sultry night of June 22, 1938, NBC radio listeners joined 70,043 boxing fans at Yankee Stadium for a heavyweight fight between champion Joe Louis and Germany’s Max Schmeling. After only 124 seconds listeners were astonished to hear NBC commentator Ben Grauer growl “And Schmeling is down…and here’s the count…” as “The Brown Bomber” scored a stunning knockout.
In 1939, New York Yankees captain Lou Gehrig made his famous farewell speech at Yankee Stadium. Baseball’s “iron man”, who earlier had ended his record 2,130 consecutive games played streak, had been diagnosed with ALS, a degenerative disease. That Fourth of July broadcast included his famous line, “…today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth”.