|The Shot Heard 'Round the World|
—Russ Hodges, New York Giants Announcer
On Sunday mornings in New York, there is a weekly radio show about baseball on WFAN hosted by Ed Randall, who says in his standard introduction that baseball is "the only game you can see on the radio." Do you agree? Very often, I think, great news moments are immortalized visually—especially in still pictures. Photographs sum up experiences instantly and etch them deeply into memories in a way that other media don't. But of course there are moments we know best from other media, and Russ Hodges's call of Bobby Thompson's "Shot Heard Round the World" is one of them. Still photos of the moment, like the one above (
Maybe this is all a matter of technology—radio was fully formed in 1951, while photography was a still few years away from the 35mm cameras and motor drives that would revolutionize sports photography and make a magazine like Sports Illustrated must-reading for fans. As for television, it would be several decades before high-quality images, instant replays, and 24/7 highlight clips became standard viewing expectations.
But I think I agree more with Ed Randall: Baseball, spread out over a vast area, complex in the implications of every play, was and is still best seen on the radio, where skilled announcers paint the images in our minds. Boxing is a photographic sport; the punch is never as compelling as the aftermath of the action. Football is a television sport, with bodies and movement seen in a rolling, roiling storyline. Hockey...well, you have to be there. (I take that back, considering this clip, the only call that might rival Hodges's in the annals of sport. Here, the picture and the words belong together.) Baseball belongs on the radio.
What do you think? Here's another question: What do you think the best sports call ever was?