Baseball's First Televised Game was in 1939, Years Before Most People Owned a TV

8/26/2016


ebbets-field



By Patrick Kelly.


On this day in 1939, the Cincinnati Reds played the Brooklyn Dodgers in a Major League Baseball double header at the famed Ebbets Field in New York. The big story that day was not the teams playing - nor the outcome of the games - but the fact that it was the first baseball game to ever be on television.

Pioneering station W2XBS (which would go on to become WNBC) televised the games, which were called by famed radio announcer Red Barber. In the initial game (behind the brilliant pitching of Bucky Walters) the Reds prevailed 5-2. The hometown Brooklyn Dodgers avenged the loss with a 6-1 victory in the second game.

National broadcast television didn't exist at the time, and there were barely 400 televisions in the New York area. However, with the 1939 World's Fair arriving in the Big Apple, the excitement for this new form of entertainment was growing. It was one of the centerpiece exhibits of the fair, and organizers rightly speculated that the double header of America's pastime was perfect to showcase America's leadership in the technology.

Broadcast from the newly erected Empire State Building, only people within a 50 mile radius that actually owned a television could see the games in their transmitted glory.

With only two camera angles and lacking high-speed video abilities, the telecast was a far cry from the broadcasts that we have grown accustomed to. The swing of a bat looked more like the opening of a paper fan, and moving balls being virtually invisible to the viewer. Even with the limitations, the exhibition was a major success. It helped drive the development of television and sparked interest in televised sporting events. Today, over 2,600 baseball games are televised each season.







You Might Also Like

0 comments