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A broadcaster is a person whose job is to give a contemporaneous account of a game over the air, be it on radio or television. The first broadcast of a baseball game was over the radio, with Harold Arlin providing the description of the action, in 1921. In the early days, many broadcasts were not actually live, but a recreation of the action based on telegraph reports received from the city where the game was being played.

There are two main roles in broadcasting, the "play-by-play announcer", who describes the action on the field, and the "analyst" or "color commentator" who adds comments based on an insider's knowledge of strategy and game play. The former role is usually given to a professional communicator, while the latter goes to a former player, coach or other baseball professional. A broadcast team can sometimes include a second analyst and/or an on-field announcer who has access to the players in the dugout or to persons in the stands and can add insight from that particular perspective.

A broadcast team can also include other persons such as an engineer, who handles the technical aspects of the broadcasts, and a statistician, who provides the broadcaster with tidbits of information that can be used on the air, but who is usually not heard.

A number of persons have moved from the broadcast booth back to the field as managers. The high visibility of broadcasters, as well as their ability with communications, are seen as desirable qualities for managers. However, there is also a risk that someone who has been looking at the game from the broadcast booth for a time has lost touch with the interactions in a clubhouse, the management of which is a crucial part of a skipper's job description. Examples of movements from broadcaster to manager include Jerry Coleman, Buck Martinez, Bobby Valentine and Aaron Boone.

The Hall of Fame gives out the annual Ford Frick Award for lifetime achievement in the field of broadcasting.

Further Reading[edit]

  • Eldon L. Ham: Broadcasting Baseball: A History of the National Pastime on Radio and Television, McFarland, Jefferson, NC, 2011. ISBN 978-0-7864-4644-5
  • Kirk McKnight: The Voices of Baseball: The Game's Greatest Broadcasters Reflect on America's Pastime, Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, Lanham, MD, 2015. ISBN 978-1-4422-4447-4
  • Stuart Shea: Calling the Game: Baseball Broadcasting from 1920 to the Present, SABR, Phoenix, AZ, 2015. ISBN 978-1-933599-40-3
  • Tony Silvia: Baseball Over the Air: The National Pastime on the Radio and in the Imagination, McFarland, Jefferson, NC, 2007. ISBN 978-0-7864-3066-6
  • Tony Silvia: Fathers and Sons in Baseball Broadcasting, McFarland, Jefferson, NC, 2009. ISBN 978-0-7864-3815-0
  • Curt Smith: A Talk in the Park: Nine Decades of Baseball Tales from the Broadcast Booth, Potomac Books, Inc., Dulles, VA, 2011.