Jacob Pomrenke is SABR’s web content editor/producer. He is chairman of the Black Sox Scandal Research Committee and editor of Scandal on the South Side: The 1919 Chicago White Sox, published in 2015. He lives in Scottsdale, Arizona, with his wife, Tracy Greer, and their cats, Nixey Callahan and Bones Ely.
In baseball, it’s important to have a healthy sense of humor. In a sport where even the best hitters fail seven out of every 10 times at bat, how else can anyone survive the long, grueling season without a little laughter along the way?
On September 27, 1917, the Chicago White Sox and Washington Senators were scheduled to play a game at Griffith Stadium in Washington. But Walter Johnson, the Senators’ ace pitcher, was nowhere to be found. Neither were Shoeless Joe Jackson and Buck Weaver of the White Sox, who had recently clinched the American League pennant and were preparing for the upcoming World Series.
No one who knew him would have been surprised to learn that Hugh S. Fullerton was in the middle of the fracas that led to the formation of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America during the 1908 World Series. During the first two decades of the twentieth century, the Chicago-based newspaper and magazine writer played a significant role in just about every major story involving the baseball media.
Most fans today know about the Baseball Writers’ Association of America because of its role in award voting. From the Most Valuable Player, Cy Young, and other awards at the end of each season to Hall of Fame elections, eligible members of the BBWAA are the people who select the most prestigious honors in the game.
It ought to come as no surprise that a group of Chicago writers led the way in the formation of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America in 1908. Most of the major innovations in baseball writing originated in the Windy City.
When John George Taylor Spink, publisher of The Sporting News for nearly a half century, was presented with “baseball’s most prized Oscar” for sportswriters in 1962, you could hardly blame the man for celebrating. His own publication, in a bit of self-serving hyperbole, said it was “an honor he has deserved ever since he was named head of the ‘Baseball Bible’ in 1914.”
“Good evening, ladies and gentlemen of the radio audience!”
Long before Vin Scully, Walter Cronkite, or Ernie Pyle became household names, Graham McNamee was the most famous broadcaster in the world. In the earliest days of radio during the twentieth century, McNamee’s distinctive introduction was the cue for millions of Americans to gather around their household sets and listen to the most exciting events of the day.
In 1932, when The Sporting News set out to honor the best baseball broadcasters for the first time, Ford C. Frick could have hardly imagined a day when every announcer would dream of winning an award bearing his name at the Baseball Hall of Fame.
As the Baltimore Orioles gather for spring training in Sarasota, Florida, they’ll be trying to end an obscure 91-year baseball drought. If you’re not aware of this one, well, you’re not alone.