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Baseball In 2020, Akin To Reagan Calling Games in 1930s

July 25, 2020

Ronald_Reagan_as_Radio_Announcer_1934-37

Now that baseball season has returned in some form due to COVID-19, I was reminded of a grand story from the pages of history when it comes to broadcasting and politicians.

When Ronald Reagan started out as a radio announcer at WHO in Des Moines, Iowa, one of his jobs was to recreate baseball games on the radio. He had a teletype machine that would feed him the action in the game, such as, batter grounded out to first, and he would have to describe the action as though he were there, complete with recorded crowd noise. Once, the teletype went dead, so he had the batter hitting a series of foul balls until the teletype went back on. That is being a true broadcaster under the stress of keeping something coming over the airwaves.

What reminded me of this was hearing a news report about the Minnesota Twins playing the White Sox in Chicago this week.  The broadcast had recorded crowd noise as the stands were empty. The Twins announcers were in Minneapolis, watching the action on a big-screen TV, and calling the action from that stream. In a real sense that is the 21st-century version of what Reagan did.

When working at WDOR radio in Sturgeon Bay I wrote a letter to the White House press office asking for a chance at interviewing President Reagan solely on the topic of his days as a broadcaster.  While that interview never materialized it would have been a grand conversation.  The following is akin to what I am most certain our conversation would have been felt like.  

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