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Baseball on TV is 75 years old today

Aug 26, 2014, 12:35 PM EST

old TV

Cut4 at MLB.com reminds us today that it’s the 75th anniversary of Major League Baseball on television. Not that it was a grand affair:

75 years ago today, an experimental station in New York City (which would ultimately become WNBC-4), aired the very first contest — a doubleheader between the Cincinnati Reds and Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field . . . Just 3,000 people were able to enjoy the Reds-Dodgers game in 1939 from their homes . . .

And the next day some columnist wrote about those ratings and then ranted about how baseball was dying.

Although it’s worth noting that thanks to carriage disputes and Major League Baseball’s ridiculous blackout rules, more people were able to watch that 1939 Dodgers game than non-Time Warner subscribers in L.A. and Dodgers fans in places like Las Vegas will be able to watch tonight’s Dodgers game, and we live in the gorram 21st Century.

  1. freedomofspeechyesway - Aug 26, 2014 at 12:46 PM

    I always wish that there would have been some capability, similar to the way NFL Films began, to record all games. Obviously with the dates being further back and the games being far more plentiful it’s not a terribly realistic wish, but man that would have been awesome.

  2. historiophiliac - Aug 26, 2014 at 1:54 PM

    Yeah, I’m pretty sure that in addition to STL, Rangers, Royals and Astros games, I’m also blacked out from 1939. :(

  3. Jack Glasscock's Cup - Aug 26, 2014 at 3:48 PM

    That whole double-header took a total (total!) of 3 hours and 17 minutes to play. One was a 6-2 game and the other a 5-1 game. There were three total pitching changes, two mid-inning. Ad-men immediately created the commercial to add some downtime to what was obviously a too quickly-paced game, and purists lamented that Walter Johnson woulda been done in two hours and pitched both games hisself.

    The whole double-header took the same amount of time as the first seven innings of a regular season Yankees/Red Sox game.

  4. Gamera the Brave - Aug 26, 2014 at 4:50 PM

    And, Craig, don’t think we all glossed over the subtle “Firefly” reference…

  5. yahmule - Aug 26, 2014 at 8:38 PM

    Bud Selig was responsible for this innovation, too.

  6. thisdamnbox - Aug 27, 2014 at 5:37 AM

    I like you, Calcaterra…You’re all right in my book…”:^)

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