TV brought baseball to fans who had never seen a game
In the stands were about 5,000 people. And due to the nascent technology, the person with the worst view at Baker Field had a better glimpse than the best view at home.
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The Museum in Cooperstown features more than 50,000 square feet of exhibits devoted to the National Pastime.
Game 7 of the 1986 Series routed Monday Night Football in audience share (55 to 14 percent) and rating (38.9 to 8.8) by luring 81 million viewers – the most-watched-ever baseball game. It preceded Scully’s nonpareil call. But Scully had more to come just two years later.
Injured, L.A.’s Kirk Gibson seemed sure to miss Game 1 of the 1988 Series – until pinch-hitting in the ninth. Oakland led, 4-3, as Gibbie limped to a 3-2 count. “The game right now is at the plate … High fly ball into right field! She iiiis gone!” said Scully, stunned. Sixty-seven seconds later: “In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened!”
Change, however, was inevitable. Out of the blue, CBS paid $1.04 billion for 1990-93 exclusivity. After the 1994-95 Baseball Network, Fox bought regular season coverage, sharing October’s with NBC. Fox’s Joe Buck became the Series’ youngest voice since Scully. ESPN came aboard in 1990 with five games a week, dropped to three, boasted the K Zone and first official’s replay, and launched a Sunday Night Baseball flagship.
The changes keep coming. But the fans’ love of the game on the screen remains the same.
“It’s just got everything,” former President George H.W. Bush said when asked why he loved the game.
Since 1939, televised baseball has shown us everything.
George Will said: “I write about politics, mostly to support my baseball habit.”
Due largely to TV, it is a habit hard to break.
Curt Smith is Senior Lecturer of English at the University of Rochester