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Today we mark a couple of notable baseball broadcast anniversaries

Aug 26, 2013, 10:31 AM EDT

old TV

I’ll talk these up tomorrow when the latest Hardball History video comes out, but it’s worth noting a couple of notable baseball broadcast anniversaries on the day they happened.

Seventy-four years ago today, on August 26, 1939, NBC televised the first major league game in history on its experimental station W2XBS. It was a Dodgers-Reds tilt, as they played a doubleheader that day.  We don’t have any attendance numbers for those games and we certainly don’t have any Nielsen ratings for the broadcast given that, like, four people on the planet had TVs then.  But we do know this much: thanks to Major League Baseball’s ridiculous blackout rules, more people were able to watch that 1939 Reds-Dodgers game than people in Las Vegas in 2013 can watch a Dodgers-Padres game or people in parts of Iowa can watch a Cubs-Cardinals game.

Also of note: while 1939 seems like ages and ages ago, it was only 11 years after that when Vin Scully began calling Dodgers games. He’s, of course, still at it today.

Moving to the digital age: On August 26, 2002 the first video streaming coverage of a major league baseball game took place on the internet. Approximately 30,000 fans visited MLB.com to see the Yankees defeat the Rangers, 10-3. That’s far short of the over 42,000 who saw the game live in Yankee Stadium, but it’s a pretty solid number for the pre-Facebook/Twitter age.

Some day all games will be available on multiple platforms and watched wherever and whenever the viewer deigns it so, without blackouts. Hopefully it takes less than 74 years for it to happen.

  1. babyfarkmcgeezax - Aug 26, 2013 at 10:49 AM

    Scully’s the man. Having the worst announcer/biggest homer in baseball, Greg Brown, who screeches like a 5-year-old when the Pirates so much as hit a second-inning single, and who feels the need to make a lame catch phrase for every single player and screams “trip-trip-triple” any time a Bucco hits a three-bagger, makes me appreciate the greats even more. Thankfully with MLB.TV I can at least watch the opponents’ broadcasts and steer clear of Brown. And I’ll stay up late some nights just to listen to Scully call a few innings after the Pirates are done playing. Makes me miss Harry Kalas, who was my personal favorite play-by-play man in sports.

    • danaking - Aug 26, 2013 at 11:00 AM

      The Pirates games to watch are those with Neveritt and Walk in the booth. nice, dry senses of humor for both of them.

      Still, I miss Bob Prince.

      • babyfarkmcgeezax - Aug 26, 2013 at 12:19 PM

        I can tolerate Neveritt, he’s kind of bland and seems like he came straight out of cookie-cutter announcer school, but pretty much anybody is a welcome change after sitting through the sheer nonsense of Greg Brown.

    • misterj167 - Aug 26, 2013 at 1:40 PM

      Chip Caray makes me hate watching Braves highlights. Like fingernails on a chalkboard. Awful.

      • danaking - Aug 27, 2013 at 9:38 AM

        Agree, and it’s a shame. His dad, Skip, was one of my handful of all-time favorite announcers. He made some terrible Braves teams watchable in the 80s.

  2. historiophiliac - Aug 26, 2013 at 10:57 AM

    What makes you so sure they’ll ever give up the blackouts, she says still smarting from her blackout experience Saturday night.

  3. scoutsaysweitersisabust - Aug 26, 2013 at 11:08 AM

    I don’t see blackouts ending anytime soon, unfortunately. I recently tried to ditch cable and go full internet (Hulu, Netflix, Sunday Ticket online, and MLB.tv). MLB.tv was the only one that forced a blackout of both Orioles and Nationals games. Blackouts lift 90 mins after the game ends, essentially forcing me to have cable to watch games. Cable companies make it a priority to force us to subscribe to watch sports. Without it, most of us would have no reason to have cable at all.

    • koufaxmitzvah - Aug 26, 2013 at 11:21 AM

      Remember when the selling point of cable was TV with no advertising?

    • historiophiliac - Aug 26, 2013 at 12:04 PM

      I have yet to be able to access a game only 90 minutes after it ends. It’s always more like 2-3 hours for me. I was up til 1am Saturday watching the end of the Tigers-Mets game.

      • scoutsaysweitersisabust - Aug 26, 2013 at 12:06 PM

        By the way, have fun when the playoffs hit. ALL games are blacked out during the playoffs.

        Thanks MLB!

      • historiophiliac - Aug 26, 2013 at 12:08 PM

        I know. I spent a lot of time at bars last fall. lol On the upside, the barkeep at one place knows to have the game on for me and has a Stella waiting.

      • normcash - Aug 26, 2013 at 1:45 PM

        I love MLB.tv…it’s come a long, long way from the first streaming of a fuzzy,
        jerky postage stamp-sized picture. Or the games neither team was televising that
        required reliance on a single camera used for scoreboard replays. However,
        regarding the Tigers/Mets game Saturday, it was 4 hours before technicians at
        MLB.tv unlocked it from the black out. The other 2 Fox game archive replays were available on time. I called tech support and the guy at the other end (with an strong Indian
        accent) kept trying to get me to log on and off, clear my cache, etc. when it was obvious
        the problem was on their end. Their policy, apparently, is NEVER to admit they have
        a problem. I kept asking him to please call the operations center and tell them they
        have a screw up. He finally advised me “Try it again in an hour.” Thanks Bub…

    • babyfarkmcgeezax - Aug 26, 2013 at 12:29 PM

      At least they are getting rid of the Fox Saturday blackouts next year, I believe.

  4. hildezero - Aug 26, 2013 at 11:20 AM

    Then why don’t you get satellite?

  5. misterscmo - Aug 26, 2013 at 11:30 AM

    I disconnected from cable a couple of years ago just like Scout. I am unhappy with the blackout policy of MLB.tv as well. But the harder they try to push cable at me, the harder I’ll dig my heels in. I’ve enjoyed following several other teams I probably wouldn’t have noticed (like the A’s, K.C., and Whoever Is Playing The Yankees) when I can’t see the home team I PAYED FOR. Screw ‘em, the blackout isn’t going to work on me.

  6. bh0673 - Aug 26, 2013 at 12:57 PM

    What I find absurd is I can pay a fee in order to watch Yankee games broadcast on YES over my computer but I can pay to watch those same games on my IPad or cell phone. My argument is and always will be, unless I am at the game, which I do get to a lot of, I would prefer to watch the game on my 52″ flat screen but there are times I am not home but still want to see the game. When YankeesOnYes games became available online the cost was over $100 I believe and I gladly paid it just as I would gladly pay whatever fee they charged for games on my mobile device. I think MLB need to reevaluate their blackout rules and allow fans to purchase MLBTV online without blackouts. Case in point I can sit out in my yard and watch a game on my laptop but can’t watch the same game on my Ipad where is the logic?

  7. misterj167 - Aug 26, 2013 at 1:44 PM

    I think MLB.tv has improved dramatically over the last couple of years, but then again being a Braves fan living in Chicago I don’t get many blackouts…

    I’ll say this, the picture quality is awesome and I took advantage of a $41 deal at about the 60-game mark so it comes out to roughly 41 cents per game. I watch on my 32″ flatscreen and it looks as good as cable, which I refuse to purchase.

  8. dcarroll73 - Aug 27, 2013 at 1:24 AM

    Phil Rizzuto and Bill White were a classic team. I know some folks (mostly non-Yankee-fans) criticized Phil’s stories, but it was priceless the way White went back and forth with him. I wish the Yanks would get a clue from their own history and stay with the ballplayers in their broadcast booth. Lose those other people, please.

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