In 1932, with Hodges at the mike, WCKY began broadcasting Reds games from Crosley Field and, in 1933, he graduated from law school and passed his bar exam. Earning $25 a week as a baseball announcer at the height of the Depression — when most attorneys scrambled to make that much in a month — helped Hodges seal his decision to remain in radio.
After WLW (which was owned by Powel Crosley, who also owned the Reds) became the team's exclusive station in 1934, he went to the minors, making $30 a week announcing for both the Rock Island Rocks and the Davenport Blue Sox of the Three-I League; in less than a year, he landed at Chicago's WIND, doing Cubs and White Sox baseball, as well as football, basketball and boxing.
In 1938, he moved to Charlotte, N.C., where he did 154 Washington Senators' games each season for four years via telegraphic recreation, which led to his hiring by the team in 1942 as its play-by-play man in the nation's capital, a deal which also allowed him to also become voice of the Washington Redskins. With Mel Allen, Hodges became one-half of the New York Yankees' broadcast team in 1946, then, after three seasons, became lead voice for the New York baseball Giants.
1970 was his last full season in the broadcast booth for the Giants; suffering from cancer, he was given a position in the team's public relations department in 1971, while working occasionally for KSFO, the Giants' flagship station. On April 19, 1971, he was stricken with a fatal heart attack at his home in Mill Valley.
Hodges' longtime play-by-play partner, Lon Simmons, was an all-around sports star at Burbank High School before attending USC on an athletic scholarship. Injuries derailed his promising career as a pitcher — he played in the Philadelphia Phillies and Boston Braves farm systems — which led him into sportscasting, working his way through stops in Marysville and Fresno before receiving his call-up to the majors as sports director of KSFO in 1957, where his first pro assignment was with the 49ers.
With the 1958 arrival of the Giants (and Russ Hodges) in San Francisco, he began a lengthy association with the team as play-by-play man during three different tours of duty: 1958-1973 (retiring upon the death of his first wife), 1976-1978 (following the team's departure to KNBR) and 1996-2002, spending 1981 through 1995 in the Oakland A's broadcast booth with former Giants mikemate Bill King.
Lon retired to Hawaii after the 2002 season, and was named the Ford C. Frick Award recipient by the Hall of Fame in 2004, which led to one of the most memorable induction speeches ever.
For the many years of enjoyment they brought to Bay Area sports fans, both Hodges (2008) and Simmons (2006) were honored with induction into the Bay Area Radio Hall of Fame.
The third man in the booth today for the broadcast is Bill Thompson, who also made the leap from Fresno to San Francisco and the Giants. A friend of Simmons' from their days at Burbank High, Thompson was an advertising salesman at KMJ/Fresno (co-owned with KSFO by Gene Autry's Golden West Broadcasting) when the station manager asked him to fill in on a daily fifteen-minute sports report.
Following in Simmons' footsteps, Thompson segued into play-by-play for the minor-league Fresno Giants and on Fresno State University sports on KMJ; both jobs had been handled previously by Simmons in the mid-1950s.* Invited into the booth for a Giants spring training game in Fresno in 1965, Thompson was allowed to announce a few innings, which led to his being hired as the third man on the big league club's broadcasts.
At first, Thompson only gave updates of scores from around baseball during games; later in the season, in an act of remarkable generosity, Hodges gave up one of his innings — the sixth — to Thompson. Following Hodges' retirement, Thompson became the number two man behind Simmons. After eleven seasons with the Giants, Thompson returned to Fresno in 1975, working in radio until becoming general manager of the Fresno Giants in 1978. He was named California League Executive of the Year twice during his eight-year tenure as the team's GM. He died in Fresno at age 79 in 2003.
* — The Fresno Giants were known as the Fresno Sun Sox during Simmons' tenure as the team's radio voice.
NOTES ON THE AUDIO: This recording begins with the beloved "Giants Theme (It's Bye-Bye Baby)," which served for many years as the overture to the team's broadcasts on KSFO; the theme was edited onto the recording by the Bay Area Radio Museum staff. The audio on the game recording itself is poor to average at its very best, and was processed and normalized by the museum staff to achieve a fair level of quality. Commercial spots had been edited out of the original recording prior to its acquisition by the museum, although several KSFO station identifications remain within the body of the broadcast.
ADDENDUM: In February 2012, the Bay Area Radio Museum received the following email from John Bamberger:
We are grateful to John Bamberger for having the foresight to record Russ and Lon on the air. Now, let's head out to Wrigley Field in Chicago for today's game!