Every Friday morning Bob Edwards of NPR’s Morning Edition radio newsprogram interviewed veteran sportscaster Red Barber. They performed this ritual for twelve years. During that time, a bond grew, a father-son link. Edwards describes Red as a surrogate father. We learn a fair deal about Red’s history, although this is not a biography. He was a leader in the creation and sustenance of media coverage of baseball. He was there when Branch Rickey brought Jackie Robinson into the major leagues. He was there when television broadcast its first game. He saw the Dodgers and the Yankees under various managements. He is a broadcasting legend. He also can be a crusty pain in the ass. Edwards delights in sharing how Barber terrorized the NPR staff, changing planned discussion topics without warning.
To hear Edwards tell it, he sounds like the rawest of rookies. I suspect this is disingenuous. He had already been co-anchor for All Things Considered. Yet he is so taken with Red. It was a very interesting read. A biography might be just as good, but we get to see not only the tight-assed prima donna announcer, but his mellowing in a way, dedicated to his wife, his garden, his cats, and eager to share with listeners the small news of his life in Tallahassee. Barber may have been the most popular voice on NPR over those twelve years. To hear Bob Edwards tell it, he was the most loved as well. Clearly Edwards loved him, and this book is an expression of that affection.