Thursday, March 10, 2011

Fantastic Historical Broadcasting News

Mel Allen and Red Barber

The baseball strike of 1994 was positively awful.  History was canceled (the 1994 World Series - still shameful) and it took a long time for the sport to recover (I don't buy into the whole "Cal Ripken saved us" crap).

The only good thing that came out of it happened one night during the strike, as I listened to WFAN.  I believe it was Howie Rose (yes, the Mets and Islanders broadcaster - he's a pretty good one, by the way) who was hosting a show and had on a gentleman from Evansville named John Miley.  Mr. Miley owned a huge backlog of classic sporting events and played some of the sound bytes on Rose's show.  With my love of history, and of sports, I was hooked.

Eventually, I found that Mr. Miley ran a business that sold many of the old broadcasts (and newer ones as well).  Several Miley Collection items found their way into my hands, including Game Five of the 1976 American League Championship Series (two words: Chris Chambliss), the 1978 American League East one-game playoff (Bucky Effing Dent) and two versions of Game Six of the 1996 World Series (the Yankees call with John Sterling and Michael Kay, and the CBS Version with - who else? - Vin Scully and Jeff Torborg).

Incidentally, the Scully call of Game Six wasn't something that was readily available.  My mother bought it for me as a Christmas present, and when she ordered it, Mr. Miley asked her if she understood that it would be more expensive due to the editing and so on.  Her response?  "That's the one my son told me he wanted."  I absolutely treasure it.

I also have the full game of Roger Maris' 61st home run in 1961, as called by Mel Allen, Phil Rizzuto (who called the magic moment) and Red Barber.  Awesome.

Mr. Miley is now 80 and had been wondering what to do with his collection.  I remember once reading that his family wasn't interested in maintaining it.  I'm sure he had some options, but I'm thrilled with the choice he has made. 

It's heading to the Library of Congress.  Read the press release to get a small sample of just how impressive the John Miley Sports Broadcast Collection is.

CBS New York has more.  So does the New York Times.

Now, I have a quarrel perhaps.  I'm not sure I believe that the audio of Harold Arlin calling the Phillies and Pirates on KDKA in August of 1920 (the first baseball broadcast) is real, because there simply wasn't the best recording machinery at the time, but I would love to hear it for myself.  I have heard a recording of KDKA doing election results that November (which was purported to be the oldest broadcast recording, but I've also heard that it was a recreation).  Yet as I said, I would be very interested to hear it.

In fact, Mr. Miley had previously said that the oldest complete (that's the key word) sporting event to exist was a Yankees/Tigers game from September, 1934.  Yes...I also own that.  Ty Tyson was the broadcaster (and public address announcer!).

There is no doubt that this is a significant event in the history of sports broadcasting.  I'm quite sure Mr. Miley will be adding some audio from WGCH Sports any day now...

Or not.

Seriously, this is wonderful news for those of us who treasure being able to hear those who came before us in the sports broadcasting world.  Perhaps those voices can teach the news guys a thing or a thousand.

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