For the first time since it was filmed over 20 years ago, Ball Talk: Baseballʼs Voices of Summer, a documentary celebrating Hall of Fame baseball announcing pioneers Mel Allen, Red Barber, Jack Brickhouse, Jack Buck, Curt Gowdy and Ernie Harwell, is available on DVD.
Ball Talk Productions is releasing and distributing director Kevin Benderʼs long unavailable ʻlabor of loveʼ which features Larry King as host. The DVD is available in the Legacy Edition on-line at Benderʼs blog about baseball announcing www.balltalkdvd.com and through Amazon.com and eBay.
"I interviewed these great storytellers and entertainers in 1988,ʼ says Bender. "Iʼm glad I got to preserve their stories, memories and personalities in Ball Talk. They were the last of a special group of professionals."
"I got the rights to the film back recently and thought it was important to put it out again,especially since all of the six announcers have passed away."
The 50-minute documentary features the six announcers reminiscing about the greatest games they broadcast and the greatest men they saw play. It includes rare archival footage of their radio and TV broadcasts and film and TV footage of some of baseballʼs most memorable moments.
Allen broadcast for the Yankees; Barber for the Reds, Dodgers and Yankees; Brickhouse announced Cubs and White Sox games; Buck was the Spirit of St. Louis; Gowdy broadcast for the Yankees and the Red Sox before going national; Harwell started with the Dodgers, went to the Giants and the Orioles before achieving legendary status in Detroit. All of them also broadcast various World Series on TV or the radio.
Among the highlights are Allen and Barber talking about announcing the 1947 World Series when Cookie Lavagetto broke up Bill Bevansʼ no-hitter in the bottom of the ninth inning and won the game. They also describe the tension in announcing Don Larsenʼs perfect game in the 1956 Dodgers-Yankees World Series.
Barber and Harwell both admit their calls of Bobby Thomsonʼs ʻshot heard round the worldʼ in the 1951 Dodgers-Giants playoff were vastly overshadowed by Russ Hodgesʼ repeated shouts of ʻThe Giants win the pennant!ʼ and that nobody remembers what they said.
Brickhouse tells of Cub Ernie Banksʼ 500th home run as well as his famous call of Willie Maysʼ catch in the 1954 World Series. Gowdy broke in with the Yankees with Allen, and then spent his formative years in Boston announcing Red Sox games before moving to the national stage with NBC. The Hall of Famers all agree on who was the greatest player they ever saw play, but Bender wonʼt reveal that name. ʻYouʼve got to see the film,ʼ he says.
"They also all talk about how they broke into the business and how they developed their Hall of Fame broadcasting styles," Bender says. "They invented the profession of baseball announcing--Barber started in 1934--and were the most accomplished practitioners of the art."