Great stuff from The Atlantic: a link to a portion of a baseball broadcast from a 1939 Senators-Indians game. The actual audio can be found here, but the Atlantic story has a detailed description. The key takeaway: nostalgia is for suckers:
Heard today, the voices in this broadcast originate on the other side of an unbridgeable distance of time and culture. But they speak a language that present-day baseball fans can nevertheless recognize. I’ve encountered no other cultural artifact that makes the game’s history seem more jarringly immediate or real. And I’ve found few others that so clearly rebut the nostalgia and idealization that dominates American society’s engagement with the game’s past.
Walter Johnson is one of the broadcasters, and he’s apparently not too good at his job. But it’s Walter Freakin’ Johnson, so yeah.
The game features the one and only major league appearance for 33-year-old rookie Dick Bass. It also features a 22 year-old Lou Boudreau. Because the broadcast doesn’t have the benefit of hindsight, we get to hear the broadcasters talk about Bass as if he has at least some future ahead of him when this was his one and only moment in the sun. And where a Hall of Famer like Boudreau is not talked about in reverent tones.
So rare a glimpse at history while it’s happening, blissfully unaware that it is, in fact, history.