The Sweet Sounds of Summer: Listening To Baseball on the Radio

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The Sweet Sounds of Summer: Listening To Baseball on the Radio
Nick Laham/Getty Images

One of life’s simple pleasures during the summer, especially for a sports fan, is the joy of listening to a baseball game on the radio.

Whether it’s at the lake, in the yard, on the deck, or in the car, a baseball broadcast is like sharing a sports bar conversation with a good friend, reminiscing about past times, current events, and debating which team or player is better.

Baseball is the perfect summer companion, the game has a rhythm that mirrors summer—the pace is gradual, sometimes slow, and often laid back.

Amidst a whirlwind society with numerous electronic gadgets and information overload, baseball is a smooth listen. One can tune in or out of the action and tend to life’s duties without feeling left out. 

The local announcers become part of the family and are as much storytellers as broadcasters, sometimes bombastic and wildly entertaining as the late Harry Caray or as steady and comfortable as Dodgers treasure Vin Scully or the late Ernie Harwell.

Each city has their favorite "hometown" announcer, whether it's Cincinnati's Mary Brennaman, San Francisco's Jon Miller, the late Jack Buck in St. Louis, or your local minor league announcer. 

The fans' conduit to their team often runs through that club's broadcaster.

Howard Kellman, longtime play-by-play voice for the Indianapolis Indians of the Triple-A International League has had the good fortune to announce games on both television and radio.

“In radio, the broadcaster becomes the eyes and ears of the listener, and needs to be more descriptive with the detail, describing such things, for example, as whether a pitch caught the inside corner,” stated Kellman, who interestingly has broadcast for eight Championship Baseball Teams; the second most of any announcer in baseball history.

“Doing television work, as I have for the past 11 seasons as well, the broadcaster is more of a point guard, setting up the analyst, directing a storyline.” Asked his preference, between the two mediums, Kellman said he enjoys both.

He did add, however, that broadcasting baseball on the radio offers listeners a “unique theater of the mind experience” unlike the presentation offered by television.

Indeed, the sounds of baseball, from an umpire calling balls and strikes to a vendor hawking hot dogs and peanuts, comes through loud and clear, further adding to the ambiance.

Kellman, who has also called games for the Chicago White Sox and Cleveland Indians on a fill-in basis, along with work for ESPN at the Triple-A World Series, says preparation is still a key, no matter the medium.

“I try to spend a great deal of time on the field prior to the game, talking with the players and managers, gleaning any information that might be of interest to listeners or viewers.”

In a sport with as many natural breaks as baseball, those nuggets of information provide filler that can be both informative and entertaining to listeners.

That's a fact not lost on a veteran announcer such as Kellman, who has seen and heard plenty throughout his 30-plus year career on the airwaves.

Like most baseball broadcasters these days, Kellman is versatile, working football and basketball games during the offseason.  "I like doing those sports, football and basketball are things I do," he declared, "but baseball is who I am." 

Like other baseball fans, Kellman often spins through his Sirius XM program guide in his car as he drives home from the ballpark, following his duties with the Indianapolis Indians, trying to pick up an inning or two of action from the West coast games. Count him as a loyal listener as well once the Triple-A season concludes in September. 

So, as the summer months head into the "dog days" of August, the playoff races heat up, and the calendar turns faster than what we'd all like, treat yourself to a simple pleasure: Tune into a baseball broadcast on the radio and listen to the conversational sounds of the Howard Kellman's of the world and his major league counterparts. 

It's time well spent.

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