Monday, July 14, 2014

REVIEW: 45th MLB All-Star Game (1974)

As Major League Baseball gathers in Minneapolis for the 85th annual All-Star Game, I wanted to take a look back forty years ago at the 45th installment of the Mid Summer Classic.  Even in 1974, Major League Baseball used the All-Star Game to showcase their new (publicly paid for) ballparks.  Taking the field at three year old Three Rivers Stadium, the game was carried by NBC for the 29th straight time (25 years with 2 games in 1959, 1960, 1961 and 1962).  



After the jump, we will take a walk through the broadcast and recap some of the important moments that transpired in The 'Burgh.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

60 Years of Orioles on TV (Part 1)

For their 60th anniversary, the Baltimore Orioles have opened up their archives and published scans of every media guide the team has put out since their move from St. Louis.  In this treasure trove of history, you will find such tidbits like Jim Hardin was a top-notch golfer in 1968 (with rounds in the 70s) or that 26.1% of all those who attended Orioles home games in 1954 were from out of town.  These time capsules of past seasons also give us an idea about how baseball approached television broadcasting. 
 


That’s what were are going to try to look at here today, how baseball broadcasting evolved for the Baltimore Orioles from their move out of the ‘Gateway to the West’ to ‘Charm City’.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

The 45th Anniversary of 'Billy Williams Day'

On a day in which Billy Williams would tie and pass Stan Musial in a doubleheader against Stan's old team, we've been treated over and over again with bits and pieces of beautiful WGN color video footage.  While I have never been able to track down (through many attempts) how much of this footage WGN held on to, I'd like to mark the anniversary of Billy Williams Day by showing you footage that doesn't contain Billy Williams!

As I pointed out in this post nearly 2 years ago, Billy Williams Day featured one of the greatest of Wrigley treats: A Gibson/Jenkins duel.  The two would both throw the entire game with Gibson giving up the lead in the bottom of the 8th.


After the jump, we get some of the 9th inning action.


Sunday, June 8, 2014

This is not 1970 (Sept 7, 1969)

I'm sure it is difficult for MLB Productions, from time to time, to put together their 'clips' shows for seasons prior to 1980.  While they undoubtedly have more footage in their archives than any of know they have or will ever see, there are large gaps that they must try to fill with newsreel footage, broadcast news highlights and team highlight films.  It is often times disappointing that they will chose color 'film' clips over broadcast footage when putting together these shows but is somewhat understandable.

When they use footage that isn't even from the time period they are showcasing, however, I feel it creates a 'false history'.  That is exactly what happened in an episode of Baseball's Seasons focusing on the 1970 season.


When pointing out the contentious NL East race of 1970, they discussed the Cubs early season collapse and the assencion of the Pittsburgh Pirates.  The problem is, they used footage from a late 1969 game between the two trying to punctuate the Cubs poor play.  More about it with extra footage after the jump.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Monster and His "Hummer"

Dick Radatz was one of the first great power relievers in baseball history.  Dubbed ‘The Monster’ by opposing players, Radatz was a giant by baseball standards.  He had huge hands with a fastball that Curt Gowdy would dub a ‘hummer’.  From 1962-1965, Radatz was one of the best relievers in baseball and earned himself two All-Star Game appearances.    During a time when the Red Sox weren’t very good, Radatz was a star.   



In today’s post, we go sleuthing again to narrow down a date for some video broadcast clips of Radatz pitching against the Yankees in Yankee Stadium.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Check Your Local Listings (1971 games on TV) Part 1

For years this blog has devoted time to finding out where a clip came from or what station may have shown it.  Rarely do we take a look to see what COULD be out there and hasn't been found yet.  As we get into the early 1970s, we see the phasing out of kinescopes and the rise of videotape and satellite hook-ups.  It becomes easier for stations to broadcast games coast-to-coast and beyond.  

As a disclaimer, not a single regular season game from the 1971 season has survived (to my knowledge).  There a few partials that exist of regular season tilts. Also, we have the glorious color videotape of the 1971 All-Star game and various post-season games have survived.  However, 1971 featured quite a few historical moments and hopefully we can try to account for which of them actually made it on-air.  Once we have a true account of what games were broadcast, then we can take a look at some of the partials and get more in-depth into each of them.



Part One of this feature focuses on the American League and their distribution of their product. By the time we reached 1971, the American League was finally starting to catch up with the National League talent wise following a slow integration process.  While their approach to talent had been slow to change, let's take a look to see how their approach to television grew.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

"in the friendly confines of beautiful Wrigley Field"

Joining the 500 Homerun club is hard enough, but often it seems getting from 499 to 500 can be the hardest part.  Players will often go through an extended stretch before reaching the milestone event.  That is what made Albert Pujols hitting 499 and 500 in the same game (not just the same day) all the more rare.  Sadly, the last 25 years of the homerun deluge took value away from reaching those counting number milestones.  You would think, in 2014 with at least 4 cable channels carrying games nationally weekly, that the game would be carried outside of the local markets.  However, much like when Mays or Aaron hit their 500th, coverage was as minimal as it could get.

As was pointed out in this post a few years ago, nine players hit their 500th homerun between 1960 and 1980.  During that time, many owners still saw television broadcasts as cutting into their attendance.  A few did not.  Thanks to major markets like New York and Chicago, some of these events were televised.  In the case of Ernie Banks, WGN actually preserved homeruns 498, 499 and 500.  


Ernie Banks ended the 1969 season needing three homeruns to become the 9th member of the club.  In speaking with Jack Brickhouse during Spring Training, Banks said that he'd hoped the number 500 would come on April 14th at the home opener "in the friendly confines of beautiful Wrigley Field".  Banks would be right about hitting 500 at Wrigley, but would be off by nearly a month.  

Friday, April 18, 2014

Program Alert: Wrigley 100 (on WGN) this Sunday

This Sunday, WGN will air a two-hour special titled: "Wrigley 100: A Century Celebration" to honor the tie between WGN and the Chicago Cubs.  The program will air at 8 pm ET, 7 pm CT.


http://tribwgntv.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/wrigley100.jpg?w=640

 This season, WGN's website is running blog posts discussing events that have happened on that day at Wrigley.  Here is the description of the special:
Narrated by WGN Radio’s Steve Cochran and featuring custom drawings by cartoonist Drew Litton, the magic moments and memories of a century of baseball at Clark and Addison are told via interviews with over 60 different people, including Hall of Famers Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, Fergie Jenkins, Ron Santo, Andre Dawson, Greg Maddux and Ryne Sandberg; as well as Kerry Wood, Rick Monday, Rick Sutcliffe, and Derrek Lee.  Visiting greats such as Hank Aaron, Vin Scully, Mike Schmidt, Albert Pujols, Bob Uecker and Paul Konerko will add their thoughts as well.  Other segments include Mike Ditka and Gale Sayers on playing for the Chicago Bears at Wrigley, fun and crazy moments at the park described by Harry Caray and Jack Brickhouse, and an in-depth look at some of Wrigley’s greatest games.
Here is a YouTube clip of the intro to the special.

WGN has a special bond with this blog simply because a majority of our color content has come from surviving WGN specials.  I have contacted WGN in the past and they have told me on a few occasions that a cache of classic broadcasts aren't hidden away somewhere.  What we have seen is what exists.  I don't know that to be 100% true, as things can be mislabeled or misplaced but I would imagine if there is something new, we might see it on this weekend's show.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

"he means the tying run at the plate now..."

Those were the words Vin Scully uttered as Aaron stepped into the box to face Al Downing for the second time on that fateful April night.  

It is Masters weekend in the state of Georgia and it just so happens that this week's post is going to stay in the state for the second week in a row.  In fact, it's going to stay focused on the same game as last week.  Two years ago, follower of the blog and fellow amateur sleuth twib77 and I were discussing some clips we saw in a MLBNetwork Prime 9 special about Rule 5 Draft picks.  One such draft pick was Darrell Evans. Evans was drafted but did not sign four times before finally agreeing to terms with the Kansas City A's.  He would, however, not play a game in the Majors for the A's.  He was chosen in the 1968 Rule 5 Draft by the Atlanta Braves  He would eventually play 21 seasons in the Major Leagues, occupying both corner infield positions and in the Top 10 in walks 15 times in his career.

Evans made a career of getting on-base and doing so in the game in this shot made him a part of history. In the fourth inning of the April 8, 1974 game vs the Dodgers, Evans would reach on an error by the Dodgers' shortstop.  Standing at first, he would be 90 feet away from Hammerin' Hank as he blasted career homerun 715.




Saturday, April 5, 2014

The 40th Anniversary of '715'

In the history of baseball, there are a handful of truly ‘tent pole’ moments.  These moments, gathering regular fans and casual fans together, weave the fabric that is our baseball memories.  As I’ve said on this blog before, there are two types of games: spontaneous history and history being built towards.  Games like Don Larsen’s perfect game, Bob Gibson’s no-hitter, Fisk’s homerun, Buckner’s error and the like, people came to the ballpark with no idea about what was about to transpire.   These aren’t the games network’s schedule around or Vice Presidents make sure they are in attendance for.  Those games everyone with even a fleeting interest in baseball tune in for.  Those games in baseball history have name brands; “2131”, “62”, and today’s topic “715”. 


The number “715” stood as the pinnacle of all baseball records for 33 years.  Henry (Hank) Aaron, a former Negro League baseball player, had the quickest wrists in baseball history and an ability to defy the aging curve.  Even with a good chunk of his career occurring during a pitchers' era in the mid-60’s to early-70s, Aaron continued to chip away at Babe Ruth’s record of 714 career homeruns.  After hitting the first pitch of his season over the fence to tie Babe in Cincinnati, the whole world knew that their first chance to see the record be broken would be Monday, April 8, 1974.  The entire nation would have access to this game through NBC Sports national broadcast.

Yet, with all those television sets and affiliates tuned in and turned on for this game, we have no real accounting of what has survived and what hasn’t.  Since that warm April night in Georgia, only bits and pieces of Hank’s at-bat have been shown ad nauseam.  Here is an attempt to compile it all and see what we have.