Have you ever wondered what a Cubs radio broadcast from decades ago sounded like? That is, if you weren't there to experience it for yourself.
Now, thanks to SABRmedia.org, the media committee of the Society for American Baseball Research, and author Stuart Shea, I present to you audio clips from the WGN radio broadcast of the very first game the Cubs ever played against the Dodgers after their move to Los Angeles in 1958. The Cubs lost the game 4-2; it was, in fact, just the fourth baseball game ever played in the Los Angeles Coliseum, a football stadium wildly inappropriate for baseball. The Dodgers played there from 1958 through 1961, and quite a bit of the broadcast clips I've got for you here are involved in discussion of how this stadium was set up -- not well, it should be noted -- for baseball.
Here's what Stuart Shea told the SABR Media Committee about this find:
This is a recording of the Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers on WGN radio, Chicago, from April 22, 1958. This is the first season that the Dodgers were in LA after having moved from Brooklyn. Included is a pregame interview between Cubs broadcaster Lou Boudreau and Dodgers shortstop Pee Wee Reese--then 39 and in his last year as an active player--and some of the game's action. There are not many tapes in existence of Jack Quinlan, the Cubs' play-by-play radio announcer, from his time in Chicago. He was a very highly regarded baseball voice who died in a car accident during 1965 spring training. He was just 38.
A hat tip also to Bob Purse's Inches Per Second blog, where these audio clips were originally posted.
The broadcast features Jack Quinlan and Lou Boudreau. If you listened to Cubs radio in the 1960s and 1970s, you are certainly familiar with Boudreau. Quinlan, had he lived, might have broadcast Cubs baseball well into the 1980s or even 1990s.
Here's the audio clip from the pregame show; as noted, it includes an interview with future Hall of Famer Pee Wee Reese. In that interview, they note that in the three games played in the Coliseum before the Cubs arrived there, 12 home runs had been hit.
Here's the play-by-play of the first inning, during which Gino Cimoli hit a two-run homer off Cubs starter Glen Hobbie. Ernie Banks provided all the Cubs' offense that day with a two-run home run of his own off Dodgers righthander Johnny Podres. Ernie, of course, would go on to win the first of his two MVP awards that year. Eerily, during this clip Quinlan notes the death of a college basketball coach in a car accident.
The audio quality of those two recordings, as I'm sure you'll agree, is outstanding. 39,459 attended that game, less than half the Coliseum's baseball capacity of about 92,000. It was the fifth-largest crowd to see the Cubs play anywhere in 1958.
Finally, whoever was recording this wound up switching the recording, after the first inning of the Cubs game, to a lesser-quality signal of the game the same day between the Cardinals and Giants in San Francisco. The Cardinal announcers: Harry Caray and Joe Garagiola. Here's about three minutes' worth of that game, and Caray's familiar voice is unmistakable.
Hope you enjoyed this look back at baseball as it was broadcast on radio nearly six decades ago.