Nation Gathers Around Radio Set To Listen To Big Ball Game

Illustration for article titled Nation Gathers Around Radio Set To Listen To Big Ball Game

WASHINGTON—After the little ones had finished up the last of their supper, moms had dashed out to get the last of the wash off the line before the sun set, and dads had quietly finished smoking their pipes behind the evening newspaper, eager citizens from coast-to-coast gathered around the radio set to listen to the big ball game between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Texas Rangers, sources in America's living rooms, dens, and parlors confirmed Wednesday.


The laughing, chattering families gaily congregated around the floor-standing oak-and-Bakelite Philcos, Bendixes, and Zeniths to enjoy the warm orange glow while the vacuum tubes properly warmed up, and were gently but firmly urged to hush by the nation's fathers, who were concentrating on carefully adjusting the radio dials to the correct broadcast station.

Americans of all ages let loose a small, spontaneous cheer of delight when the devices finally crackled to life and the authoritative yet soothing voice of the play-by-play announcer could be heard pronouncing the names of the teams over the familiar and highly anticipated sounds of the World Series.

The nation reportedly marveled at the excellent sound quality of the broadcast, with the grandpas in particular claiming that listening to the big game on the radio set felt "just like being at the old ballpark."

"You can really hear the crowd, the ump, and the crack of the bat every time the ball is hit foul," said Topeka, KS resident Larry Schultz, adding that the announcer's terse yet vivid descriptions of the infield moving over a couple steps to the left, a pitcher looking over his shoulder at a base runner, and a manager walking out to the mound were so clear he could almost see the game in his head. "The World Series! Boy oh boy, I am wound up for this one. I love to hear our top-notch big-leaguers play a ball game."

Across the nation, streets were deserted, taprooms vacant, and general stores empty—save for the widowed old-timers listening to the shopkeeper's cigar-box crystal radio set as the potbellied stove shooed away the October chill. Lights glowed a soft yellow from the windows of all the houses in the country as the nation found itself completely entranced by the most important contest of America's national pastime, closely following each pitch on the selfsame radio sets that bring them, regular as well-wound clockwork, the quiz shows, mystery stories, serialized dramas, vaudevillian performances, and jolly big-band numbers that liven up their nightly games of checkers.

However, on this very special night, the bright-eyed and apple-cheeked people of all 50 states were brought together by the unfolding matchup between the Cardinals ball club from the big city of St. Louis and the upstart Texas Rangers platoon from way out West.


"Should be a great contest, because that Texas club is a scrappy bunch that can really flash the leather and hightail it around the base-pads," said Cleveland native Steve Bergman, who accompanied his two sons and his daughter to the study between innings so they could clamor for the privilege of showing him St. Louis and Texas on the big globe they received last Christmas. "On the other hand, the Cardinals have a couple guys who can certainly wallop the ol' horsehide."

"Me, I think the savvy money is on the Cardinals," said Bergman, who also took pains to point out that he was by no means a betting man." "See, those Ranger boys will be quite fatigued, since they had to take the train all that ways from Texas."


The big game provided a pleasant diversion for many Americans facing joblessness or missing family members sent to war.

"Times are tough, what with the market crash and all, so it's really nice that for a little while you don't have to think about how hard it is to find factory work," said Karen Dreisel, a Miami native. "And since so many of us haven't seen our sons since they left on the troop train to go off to war, it's nice they had a tribute to our boys in uniform overseas. Oh, and to the gals who are helping out over there, too, of course."


In every home in America, all three generations of family members living under the roof assembled in front of the radio set for the big game, with grandparents in their rocking chairs, and fathers, mothers, aunts, and uncles seated on the edge of the davenport. Red-faced uncles apologized for loudly exclaiming "Oh, applesauce!" after a strikeout by a favorite slugger, and children sat Indian-style or lay on the floor with their chins cradled in their hands, wearing their cherished mitts and hushing the family dog as they focused intensely on the broadcaster's voice and leaned in closer with every reverent word.

As of press time, the sun had long since set on the cities and towns; the harvest moon was lining the deserted streets, sidewalks, and yards with silver; and the entire United States was silent—save for the distant crackle of the broadcast and the happy exclamations an impressive catch or throw might bring out of wholesome folk who would do anything for family, friends, neighbors, or even strangers in need—as every ear in the country turned itself toward baseball.