HOW MR. FAT-W FOUND THE 1966 DREAM WORLD SERIES
The story of the huge Hartwest Productions radio archive is told on the “Radio Programming” page of this site. The more than 2,500 broadcast master tapes were not inventoried; the only indication of what was in each tape were the technician’s hand-written guest names on some of the boxes, or initials such as “JS” for Jean Shepherd. The only way we could be sure of what was on each tape, was to listen to it as it was transferred on our antique Teac reel-to-reel tape deck, into a modern MacPro.
In September 2013 Kris Alicea, our audio intern, was supposed to be transferring tapes of The Long John Nebel radio talk show, but instead heard something remarkable: Long John Nebel had been suspended for two “special” broadcasts: Two play-by-play broadcasts of Games 1 and 2 of the 1966 Dream World Series, which we now know was “re-created” (actually, “created,” since there never was such an actual series) by Les Kreiter and Bill Mazer.
It is hard to believe that you are not listening to an actual play-by-play broadcast. Bill Mazer introduces the program sponsors — Prestone Antifreeze, Ballantine Beer, and Aurora Plastics, and Keiter does the play-by-play from Ebbetts Field, Flatbush, on the banks of the Gowanus Canal. Cindy Keiter, Les Keiter’s actress daughter, recalled that the teams were actually selected by ballots from baseball fans. Listed according to their Series batting orders, the lineups are:
For the American League: Ty Cobb (Left Field), Charlie Gehringer (2nd Base), Babe Ruth (Right Field), Lou Gehrig (1st Base), Joe DiMaggio (Center Field), Yogi Berra (Catcher), Brooks Robinson (3rd Base), Phil Rizzutto (Shortstop), Walter Johnson (Pitcher).
For the National League: Rogers Hornsby (2nd Base), Stan Musial (Left Field), Willie Mays (Center Field), Mel Ott (Right Field), Memphis Bill Gerry (1st Base), Ty Trainor (3rd Base), Roy Campanella (Catcher), Honus Wagner (Shortstop) and Sandy Koufax for Game 1 and Christy Matthewson for Game 2 (Pitchers).
Game 1 runs 53 minutes, ending at the top of the 4th inning.
Game 2 runs 54 minutes, ending at the bottom of the 3rd inning.
There is a biography about Bill Mazer on our “Bill Mazer Remembers” page on this web site; it is Les Keiter’s turn on this page:
LES KEITER BIOGRAPHY (from his New York Times Obituary)
New York Times
Les Keiter, Announcer Who Recreated Giants Games, Dies at 89
By RICHARD GOLDSTEIN
Published: April 15, 2009
Les Keiter, who spent 50 years as a sportscaster but was best remembered for his three imaginative summers in a Manhattan radio studio recreating San Francisco Giants baseball games for abandoned fans from the Polo Grounds years, died Tuesday in Kailua, Hawaii. He was 89. His wife, Lila, announced his death.
Beginning in 1958, the Giants’ first year in San Francisco, and continuing for the next two seasons, listeners to WINS radio in New York heard the refrain, “Hi there again baseball fans, this is Les Keiter with Giant baseball.” The Giants had gone west along with the Brooklyn Dodgers, but they lingered on Coogan’s Bluff and elsewhere in the New York area through Keiter’s booming voice and excitable embellishments, aided by his Western Union ticker reports, his taped crowd noise and a drumstick and wooden block alongside his microphone.
When the Giants and the Dodgers departed, Keiter was the sports director of WINS. He was broadcasting Knicks and Giants football games and doing pregame and postgame Yankee broadcasts. As Keiter told it in his 1991 memoir, “Fifty Years Behind the Microphone,” the owner of WINS, J. Elroy McCaw, asked him to do re-creations of Giants or Los Angeles Dodgers home games. “Listen, Elroy, you’ve got to be out of your mind,” Keiter responded. “Sports fans in Manhattan, New Jersey and Westchester are too sophisticated for re-creations.”
But McCaw persisted, and Keiter chose the Giants, which had Willie Mays and a host of talented young players, over the aging Dodgers.
Keiter monitored telegraph reports bringing the essential play-by-play into the WINS studio and filled in the rest, offering descriptive flourishes based on his best guess as to what was actually happening. “You might not know what kind of pitch struck a man out, but you remember what a certain pitcher’s key weapon is,” Keiter recalled. “You can’t see the condition of a field after a rain delay, but you know from your preparation what conditions the stadium is usually in when wet.”
Keiter remembered how “you use all this research and experience to create a broadcast that may not be correct in every detail but is certainly plausible.”
Sometimes wearing Bermuda shorts and eating popcorn at the mic, Keiter banged his drum-stick against his wooden block to simulate a batter connecting. His engineer activated tapes labeled “Excited Crowd” or “Regular Crowd” and, on occasion, the sound of booing.
Once in a while, when the ticker account stopped transmitting or became garbled, Keiter filled in the time by inventing a pitcher-catcher conference on the mound or a batter fouling off pitch after pitch.
During the 1959 season, Keiter’s re-creations were heard by an average of 300,000 listeners in the New York area. The Giants finished third in the National League while the Dodgers were surprise pennant-winners. A native of Seattle and a graduate of the University of Washington, Keiter began his sportscasting career in Hawaii in the late 1940s. He did radio broadcasts for most Knicks games from 1955 to 1962 and Giants football from 1956 to 1959. He also provided the blow-by-blow for heavyweight championship boxing matches on ABC radio, with Howard Cosell as his color commentator.
Keiter left for Philadelphia in 1963 and became a popular figure broadcasting college basketball at the Palestra, telling listeners of a “ring-tailed howitzer” for a long-range off-balance shot and an “in again out again Finnegan” for a shot that rimmed the basket but did not fall.“I’ve never been able to contain my excitement,” he once told The A.P.
Keiter returned to Hawaii in 1970, becoming sports director of KHON-TV in Honolulu and broadcasting Hawaii Islanders minor league baseball and University of Hawaii sports.
In addition to his wife, Keiter is survived by his sons, Richard and Marty; his daughters, Barbara, Cindy and Jodi Keiter; a brother, George; eight grandchildren and a great-granddaughter.
Long after he put away his drum-stick, wooden block and canned crowd noise, Keiter reprised his baseball re-creation style on network television appearances, including a spot with Tom Brokaw on NBC’s “Today” show. As Keiter remembered it: “Brokaw commented to Jane Pauley after my feature that ‘Neil Armstrong didn’t really walk on the moon. Les Keiter recreated the whole thing.’ ”
The audio player below gives you a sample of what the broadcasts sound like; to hear the rest, you’ll have to get the full programs, either by buying the CDs from Amazon.com or one of our catalog customers, or by downloading them from Amazon.com or one of the multiple mobile site distributors such as iTunes.