TSH: Dodgers become first NYC team to broadcast games on radio

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Today in Sanford history (TSH), the first ever radio broadcast of a Brooklyn Dodgers’ baseball game occurred with Sanford’s own Red Barber handling the play-by-play duties. It was Arpil 18, 1939.

Baseball had been broadcast on the radio since 1921. Team owners were initially skeptical of broadcasting games for fear of hurting attendance at the ballpark. In 1932, the owners nearly banned radio from the game. By 1939, however, all Major League teams were broadcasting games, except for the New York teams, who in 1934 had signed a contract banning radio for 5 seasons.

Larry MacPhail became the Dodgers’ general manager in 1939. He was a big proponent of baseball on the radio. In his previous job as general manager of the Cincinnati Reds, he hired Red Barber to broadcast games. One of McPhail‘s first acts as the Dodgers’ GM was to lure Barber away from the Reds. Thus baseball and radio finally merged in New York City.

1939 would be an historic year for Barber and established him as a pioneer in sports broadcasting. In August, Barber announced the first televised baseball game, which pitted the Dodgers against the Reds. Then in October, he was behind the mic calling the first televised National Football League game, a contest between the Philadelphia Eagles and the long defunct Brooklyn Dodgers football team.

Barber was born in Columbus, Miss. and moved with his family to Sanford when he was 6 years old. His mother was a teacher, then later principal, at Southside Elementary School, which still stands at 13th Street between Magnolia and Palmetto avenues.


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