Even during the coldest and darkest days of winter, baseball fans look forward to February, when a glimmer of hope appears as pitchers and catchers report to Spring training. Baseball fans throughout the world start dreaming of a World Series championship and everyone knows The Void will soon be over.
The Recorded Sound Section’s collection of baseball recordings is just a small part of the Library’s vast holdings of baseball related material, such as this baseball card of Walter Johnson from the Washington Senators (Nationals) and Charles Street from the New York Highlanders (Yankees) held in the Library’s Prints and Photographs Division. The Baseball Card collection holds 2,100 early baseball cards dating from 1887 to 1914.
The Recorded Sound Collection contains an amazing variety of items. Upon examination, you can find baseball songs, radio broadcasts of games (including World Series and National and American League Championships), interviews with players, and sports news programs.
The NBC Radio Collection has little known radio programs like “Here’s Babe Ruth,” airing in 1943. On the program, Babe Ruth answers baseball questions from young players and fans in the studio audience, giving a prize of an autographed baseball to each one appearing on the show.
There’s also a 1948 recording of Dizzy Dean auditioning for a baseball talk program, as well as “Jackie Robinson’s Platter Up Club,” a 1951 program where the great Brooklyn Dodgers second baseman plays records for kids and asks baseball related questions.
Another great collection is Sports Byline USA, hosted by Ron Barr. The program has regularly presented interviews with notable figures from the world of sports since 1988. The interviews in the Sports Byline USA Collection form an invaluable archive of the nation’s athletic heritage, and is an extensive resource for researchers, fans and sports professionals. Sports Byline has aired over 6,400 interviews with athletes, coaches, trainers, managers, owners, writers and others in the areas of baseball, football, basketball, hockey, soccer, tennis, golf, track and field and other sports. Notable interviewees include John Wooden, Reggie White, Mickey Mantle, Elgin Baylor, Hank Aaron, Oscar Robertson, John Elway, Jose Canseco, Charles Barkley, Mike Krzyzewski, Jimmie Johnson, John Mackey, Archie Griffin, Bonnie Blair, Bill Bradley, Willie Mays, Jim Brown, Barry Sanders, John McEnroe, Natalie Coughlin and Meadowlark Lemon.
This collection complements other sports coverage in the Recorded Sound Section including the aforementioned NBC Radio History Collection and the Armed Forces Radio Collection which together contains thousands of broadcasts.
Here is Willie Mays, described by many as the greatest all-around baseball player of all-time, talking about his professional and minor league career, his strategy for winning, and what is was like to integrate the game in the early 1950s.
Another recording available on our website is a repeat of a 1994 program with Mickey Mantle, rebroadcast the day after he died in 1995. Mantle candidly talks about being sent back to the minors after a disastrous lack of confidence, what happened when he called his Dad, the loss of the 1960 World Series to the Pirates, and Jackie Robinson’s words of encouragement to him.
The interviews are being preserved digitally, and a small sample are available to visitors on the Library’s website and by visiting the Library’s Recorded Sound Research Center. More recordings will be made available as they are preserved.