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Beer, Baseball And Radio - A Long Relationship

Back in 1939, one local brewery’s name was synonymous with sports in St. Louis. They sponsored broadcasts of pre-game and post-game baseball broadcasts on the radio and daily sports updates on five local radio stations. In fact, they practically wrote the book on sports sponsorships and broadcasts. No, it wasn’t Anheuser-Busch.

Sports reporting was a big deal in 1939. There were regular, daily sports programs on KMOX, KWK, KXOK, WIL and WEW. Those men who anchored the shows were well-known among fans, so much so that the Hyde Park Brewery sponsored the shows and then took out adds in local newspapers and The Sporting News telling listeners where and when to tune in for a dose of sports.

While no breweries were involved in sponsoring play-by-play (Those sponsorships were snapped up by companies like General Mills, The Independent Packing Company and Socony-Vacuum Oil Company) Hyde Park managed to snag sponsorships of pre-game and post-game shows on KWK and KMOX, both of which carried the home games.

In those days, the radio play-by-play broadcasts were only of the home games played at Sportsman’s Park at Grand and Dodier. St. Louis had two teams then, so there were broadcasts practically every day of either the Cardinals or the Browns. Interest in the Browns probably waned quickly during the 1939 season. The team ended the year with a won-lost record of 43 - 111, some 64 ½ games out of first place. The Cardinals had a respectable 92 - 61 season.

And the ads for Hyde Park Beer seemed to be everywhere, every day. In addition to the ads heard around the game broadcasts, the Hyde Park Brewery sponsored three daily sports reports on KWK, two daily reports on KXOK, eight reports a day on WIL and a daily sports report on WEW. The latter station is particularly interesting since it was owned by St. Louis University, a Jesuit institution, but beer ads ran on it.

These sponsorships underwrote the programs of all of St. Louis’ celebrity sports broadcasters at the time: Alex Buchan, Cy Casper, Bill Durney, Allen Franklin, France Laux, Herb MacCready, Neil Norman, Johnny O’Hara and Ray Schmidt.

To be sure, there were many other beers brewed in St. Louis, but Hyde Park’s radio advertising was pervasive because of its identification with sports.

(Reprinted with permission of the St. Louis Journalism Review. Originally published 5/09)