A Present For My Stepdaughter.
Want to hear the oldest known full-recording of a baseball game? Well, here it is.
My stepdaughter, Kat, is a huge Tigers fan. In fact, you can follow her on twitter: @NCTigersFan. I’m sure she’ll have plenty to say during the post season play, now that the Tigers have sewn-up the AL Central division. You can bet her tweets will be… Colorful, as the games against the Orioles play-out. She knows her stuff, mind you, and can smack your candy-ass up one side and down the other when it comes to game-knowledge and baseball stats. She’s NOT your typical girl, so don’t even think you can one-up her simply because she’s pretty.
Yesterday, September thirtieth, she and her husband welcomed their first child into the world. That was a pretty big deal, and I was trying to think of something nifty to do to mark the occasion. I was stumped, so I let it go and went on about my day. I was certain something would come up – I’m pretty inventive, and I have ADD. So, some random event should pop something into my head…
And, indeed, something did pop into my head while cleaning my office. I’m a fan of Old Time Radio; all those cool old radio broadcasts from the thirties and forties. I have a bunch of CDs with a zillion .mp3 audio files that I collected around 1999 from various internet newsgroups that traded old radio programs, which was truly different, as most newsgroups at the time usually swapped porn. I decided to go through a bunch of the discs while cleaning out my office, since, fifteen years later, hard-drive space is plentiful, and I could save physical space by loading them up on my computer. Basically, it was something to do to put-off cleaning my office.
One of the discs had a news folder. It was full of cool stuff like the actual Hindenburg newscast, Pearl Harbor special bulletins, D-Day coverage, and so forth. One of the files was a baseball game from 1934. I remember saving it, thinking it was pretty cool at the time. But now, looking at it with fresh eyes, I noticed it’s a Tigers game. The Detroit Tigers Vs. The New York Yankees, September 20th, 1934. What were the odds of that?
Frankly, since she is a huge Tigers fan, Kat may have already heard this – but that was not really going to stop me, since, as any person with ADD understands, I was now hyper-focused on this, and wouldn’t be able to stop until I was finished. I scoured the internet looking for cool pictures of the Tigers from 1934. I even found a picture of the announcer from the exact time of this four-game series with the Yankees. As Kat would say, “baller.”
I was trying to figure out how to best send all of this to her. Should I send the files via chat, or maybe share them in a Google folder? When I decided I would create a private page and send her a link, I figured a full-blown post would serve just as well, and my Google ranking might even go up a bit as baseball fans do random searches. Just like in baseball, I like it when I get more hits.
September 20th, 1934. It was a home game for the Tigers, at Navin Field. The game was broadcast on WWJ radio, Detroit – A station that is still around today, currently owned by CBS. While this is not the first actual baseball broadcast, it is the earliest known full (mostly) recording. I use the word “mostly” because of the way recordings were made back in the day: Records. Big ones. So, someone had to swap them out every once in a while, and start the next one. That’s also why these recordings are so scarce: Early records were very breakable, and they took up a bunch of space – so what didn’t get broken, most likely got tossed out to make room for newer recordings, and later, newer recording media. This is not a cool pristine digital recording; it’s old records with pops, hiss, crackle and “whooshing” sounds. Sometimes its clear, sometimes it’s scratchy – But it’s always very cool…
The lineup for today’s historical game is as follows:
For the visiting Yankees:
Frankie Corsetti (SS)
Red Rolf (3B)
George Selkirk (LF)
Lou Gehrig (1B)
Tony Lazzeri (2B)
Benny Chapman (CF)
Sammy Bird (RF)
Art Jorgens (C)
Johnny Broaca (P)
And for the home-town Tigers:
Pete Fox (RF)
Jo-Jo White (CF)
Charlie Gehringer (2B)
Hank Greenberg (1B)
Marv Owen (3B)
Goose Goslin (LF)
Willie Rogell (SS)
Ray Hayworth (C)
Fred Marberry (P)
Your announcer for today’s game is Ty Tyson (1888–1968). He was the original “voice” of the Tigers. He called Detroit’s first full-broadcast season, the first for any Major League baseball team, in 1927. His real first name was Edwin, so I am in full agreement with the nickname “Ty.” If the source of this picture is correct, this is actually a picture of Ty (center) during this exact series of games against the Yankees. Speaking of pictures: Since I wasn’t originally going to publish this, I didn’t really take notice where I found the pictures in this post. If I’ve stomped on your copyright, your personal collection or simply your ego by this random theft, my apologies.
Before our game begins, note that one of the most prominent Yankees of the day, Babe Ruth, was not in this game due to injury. Also, Lou Gehrig and Charlie Gehringer were deep into their bids for the batting title for the American League, as the season was close to wrapping-up, both batting in the .350’s. Also, you’ll notice that Ty was not just calling the play-by-play, but he was also the ballpark announcer! Vin Scully, you have been served.
So sit, back, relax, grab your favorite beverage, perhaps nuke a quick hotdog, and enjoy the play-by-play of this game, which occurred eighty-years ago. And don’t forget to thank your local Mobil gas man for today’s broadcast. He’s at the sign with the flying red horse…
Now, don’t expect me to blab about the outcome. That would be a spoiler. You’ll have to listen to the above recording (or look up the game stats – cheater). The Tigers DID go on to the World series that year, so there’s no no need for nail-biting. The Tigers did not take the title in 1934, sadly (for Tigers fans, of course), the Cardinals took that year’s title – but they came back in 1935 to win their first World Series.
Welcome to the world, Brody Wilson Brown.
I’m certain that Kat and Paul will be taking you to many baseball games!