10 new baseball books for summer reading

In North America, the baseball season is a marathon, stretching from April to late October, a full seven months. It lures many publishers to feed the public appetite for books about the sport, especially during the heart of the season. These selections are among the latest varied offerings.

10. 'Crack of the Bat: A History of Baseball on the Radio,' by James R. Walker

The sounds of baseball and the familiar voices describing the action have long been part of the allure of radio broadcasts. In “Crack of the Bat,” James R. Walker, the former chair of the Department of Communication at Saint Xavier University, chronicles how the use of the airwaves has served both baseball and the radio industry from the 1920s up to the present day. This book goes beyond the microphone greats – Red Barber, Harry Caray, Vin Scully et. al – to focus on the interplay among team owners, local and national media, and government and business interests.

Here’s an excerpt from Crack of the Bat:

“The mechanics of calling a baseball game on the radio have changed only slightly over time. Television coverage is far more complex, and the director’s choice of camera shot tends to lead the announcer’s call. The vastly expanded instant replay and graphic support in television make the announcer’s work even more complex. The radio world is simpler, but the announcer bears primary responsibility for a successful broadcast. For Red Barber in the golden age of baseball on the radio, the announcer needed only a ‘scorebook, record books, four or five sharp pencils, egg timer, and the commercials.’ The sands of the egg timer ran from top to bottom every three minutes, reminding Barber to give the game score, so that people just tuning in would not be in the dark. Contemporary announcers have added more sources of instant information, provided by a laptop-equipped associate producer. Announcers also can receive inquiries from fans by text, by email, or through social media. But announcers are often too busy to use computers during the game.”

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