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The rat that changed baseball coverage on TV

Apr 19, 2012, 3:01 PM EDT

Fisk Homer

I want to say I knew this once. Or maybe posted on it once. But when you post several thousand things a year they all kind of blend together. Oh well.

Anyway, there’s a great story over at Sporting News which tells the tale of the famous shot of Carlton Fisk’s homer in Game 6 of the 1975 World Series.  It was a shot that wasn’t supposed to happen because back then camermen were instructed to follow the ball, not the player’s reaction.  But in this case, something weird happened:

NBC cameraman Lou Gerard, stationed in the Fenway scoreboard and assigned to track the ball wherever Fisk hit it, had a problem.

A big, hairy, ugly, nasty problem.

“There were some rats running around,” he says. “With Fisk coming up, Harry Coyle, who was the director at the time, he told me, ‘Lou, you have to follow the ball if he hits it.’ I said, ‘Harry, I can’t, I’ve got a rat on my leg that’s as big as a cat. It’s staring me in the face. I’m blocked by a piece of metal on my right.’ So he said, ‘What are we going to do?’ I said, ‘How about if we stay with Fisk, see what happens?’

Meanwhile, we all get mad at Luke Scott for calling Fenway Park a dump.  Oh well.

  1. makeham98 - Apr 19, 2012 at 3:11 PM

    Most ballparks were dumps back in the 70s. Detroit, Cleveland, Comiskey, old Yankee, Atlanta, Arlington, never mind Fenway.

  2. rambodiaz - Apr 19, 2012 at 3:15 PM

    I just read Joe Posnanski’s The Machine and this story is briefly mentioned in there. It’s awesome and unbelievable, all at once, that such a crazy situation could have had such an impact.

  3. heynerdlinger - Apr 19, 2012 at 3:16 PM

    I’ve heard this story before (Ken Burns documentary, I think), but something about it doesn’t ring true to me. How is a camera stationed inside the scoreboard at Fenway Park supposed to follow the flight of a ball that travels over the left-field wall?

    • 18thstreet - Apr 19, 2012 at 3:42 PM

      If you ever watch the game itself — all 12 innings — the announcers occasionally brag about how, for the first time, they put a camera in the left field wall. It’s hilarious. They’ll have shots of the shortstop’s butt, and say, “Look at that view! It’s like you’re right on the field.” Ninety-nine percent of the time, the camera is utterly worthless.

      • heynerdlinger - Apr 19, 2012 at 3:54 PM

        And it’s not like there weren’t other people in the scoreboard to deal with the rat. It was (and still is) a manual scoreboard, so there must have been at least one other guy in there to update the score.

      • rooney24 - Apr 19, 2012 at 4:10 PM

        Well, that scoreboard guy would have been there to update scores, not chase rats.

      • heynerdlinger - Apr 19, 2012 at 4:24 PM

        What scores? This was the World Series. The only score to update was at Fenway, and with no one on base and the Sox up in the bottom of the 12th, there wasn’t suddenly going to be a run to post.

      • thomas2727 - Apr 19, 2012 at 4:36 PM

        You correct with the What Scores? But Pudge did cause the need for another run to suddenly be posted.

  4. thomas2727 - Apr 19, 2012 at 3:51 PM

    Bob Costas told this story on MLBs Greatest games last Spring with Johnny Bench and Fred Lynn in studio.

    • 18thstreet - Apr 19, 2012 at 4:48 PM

      Let me just say, “Ouch” for Fred Lynn.

  5. mncharm - Apr 19, 2012 at 3:54 PM

    I recall reading about this in grade school (late 80s) — maybe in one of the Baseball Hall of Shame books? Can’t recall.

    Anyone remember the Baseball Confidential book that the Hall of Shame folks put out? Great inside stuff from ballplayers on ballplayers.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Apr 19, 2012 at 3:56 PM

      Baseball Hall of Shame books?

      Wow I thought I was the only one who read those books.

      • thomas2727 - Apr 19, 2012 at 5:03 PM

        I really liked a book called Baseball Babylon.

  6. neelyisgod - Apr 19, 2012 at 7:58 PM

    Who is Luke Scott anyway? Seriously, did he play for the Big Red Machine or something?

  7. dirtyharry1971 - Apr 20, 2012 at 1:26 AM

    fenway is filled with rats on any given night so who cares

  8. bigleagues - Apr 20, 2012 at 1:27 AM

    Craig,

    Can we please put Luke Scott’s comment in perspective once and for all? The Visiting Clubhouse is still (intentionally) a dump. The Home Clubhouse on the other hand was made state-of-the-art many years ago. Thus, Luke Scott can complain all he wants. Because that’s kind of the idea.

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