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Friday, August 26, 2011

Daily TWiP - First Major League Baseball games televised today in 1939

Week in Preview

Welcome to Daily TWiP, your daily dose of all the holidays and history we couldn’t cram into The Week in Preview.

Today (Aug. 26th) in 1939, those Americans who owned TV sets were able to yell at the umpire from the comfort of their living rooms when New York City-based channel WXBS broadcast the first Major League Baseball games, a doubleheader between the the Cincinnati Reds and the Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field. The Reds won the first game 5-2 and the Dodgers won the second 6-1.

The broadcast used only two cameras, one behind the plate and the other focused on announcer Red Barber. Not exactly the multiple-angle, instant-replay experience afforded to viewers today, but still very impressive to the first-time audience.

The same station had broadcast the first baseball game overall a few months earlier on May 17th, a college game between Princeton and Columbia (which Princeton won 2-1), as an experiment. By 1947, more and more Americans were buying TVs, which led to the regular broadcasting of Major League games as well as the first televised World Series during that same year.

Broadcasting the games on TV brought baseball to a whole new demographic. People who had never before taken an interest in baseball began attending the games in person, causing attendance numbers to soar to a record high of 21 million in 1948.

We’re not surprised. Televised baseball is all fine and good, but there are some important aspects of the game that just can’t be replicated outside the ballpark. For example, no matter how high you raise your hand, the hot dog man and the cotton candy vendor will not be swinging by your house.

Daily TWiP appears Monday through Saturday courtesy of The Week in Preview. Read more of both at www.nashuatelegraph.com/columnists/weekinpreview.

– Teresa Santoski

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