Major League Baseball on NBC

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Major League Baseball on NBC
Genre Sport
Developed by NBC Sports
Directed by Harry Coyle[1]
Andy Rosenberg
John Gonzalez
Doug Grabert
Bucky Gunts
Starring Major League Baseball on NBC broadcasters
Theme music composer Clark Gault
Randy Edelman
Mitch & Ira Yuspeh
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
Production
Executive producer(s) Scotty Connal
Don Ohlmeyer
Michael Weisman
Terry O'Neill
Dick Ebersol
Tom Roy
Producer(s) Roy Hammerman
George Finkel
John J. Filippelli[2]
Kenneth Roy Edmundson
Les Dennis
Camera setup Tom Adza
Jim Bragg
Eric A. Eisenstein
Rick Fox
Lou Gerard
Steve Gonzalez
Dave Hage
Thomas K. Hogan
Cory Leible
Vaughn Kilgore
Jim Lynch
Tim O'Neill
Albert Rice, Jr.
Luis Rojas
Nick Utley
Running time 180 minutes (or until game ends)
Broadcast
Original channel NBC
Audio format Stereo
Original run July 8, 1947 – October 17, 2000
Chronology
Related shows Baseball Night in America
Major League Baseball Game of the Week
Major League Baseball: An Inside Look
Monday Night Baseball
External links
Website

Major League Baseball on NBC is the de facto name for a weekly presentation of Major League Baseball games televised on the NBC television network from 1947 to 1989, and from 1994 to 2000. There have been several variations[3] of the program dating back to the 1940s, including The NBC Game of the Week and Baseball Night in America.

History[edit]

From 1947–1956 and again in 1965, NBC only aired the All-Star Game (beginning in 1950) and World Series. From 1957–1989, they aired the Saturday afternoon Game of the Week (or a variation of it prior to 1966, when NBC didn't have exclusive over-the-air rights). From 1994–1995, they aired games under the umbrella called The Baseball Network. And from 1996–2000, NBC only aired postseason games (three Division Series games in prime time, the American League Championship Series in even numbered years, and the National League Championship Series and World Series in odd numbered years) as well as the All-Star Game in even numbered years (years NBC didn't have the rights to the World Series).

To date, Game 6 of the 2000 American League Championship Series (October 17, 2000) was the last Major League Baseball game televised by NBC in history.

Early years[edit]

1930s[edit]

NBC television's relationship with Major League Baseball technically dates back to August 26, 1939. It was on that particular date that W2XBS (an experimental television station out of New York City which would ultimately become NBC's flagship station, WNBC) the first ever Major League Baseball game was televised. With Red Barber announcing, the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Cincinnati Reds played a doubleheader at Ebbets Field. The Reds won the first 5–2 while the Dodgers won the second, 6–1. Barber called the game without the benefit of a monitor and with only two cameras capturing the game. One camera was on Barber and the other was behind the plate. Barber had to guess from which light was on and where it pointed.

1940s[edit]

By 1947, television sets (most with five and seven-inch screens) were selling almost as fast as they could be produced. Because of this, Major League teams began televising games and attracted a whole new audience into ballparks in the process. This was because, people who had only casually followed baseball began going to the games in person and enjoying themselves. As a result, the following year, Major League attendance reached a record high of 21 million.

1947 also saw the first televised World Series.[4] The games were shown in the New York area by NBC's WNBT, CBS's WCBS-TV, and DuMont's WABD and sponsored by Gillette and Ford. The 1947 World Series brought in an estimated 3.9 million people, becoming television's first mass audience. In addition to New York, live coverage of the Series was also seen on WRGB Schnectady/Albany, WPTZ Philadelphia, WMAR-TV Baltimore, and WTTG Washington.

In 1948 and 1949, the World Series would be seen in the above series as well as on WBZ-TV and WNAC-TV in Boston, WNHC-TV New Haven, and WTVR Richmond, Virginia. In 1949, the World Series was also seen live in other Northeastern and Midwestern cities (Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo, Erie, Cleveland, Detroit, Columbus, Cincinnati, Dayton, Toledo, Indianapolis, Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Louis) that had been hooked up to network lines over the previous year.

1950s[edit]

In 1950, the Mutual Broadcasting System acquired the television as well as radio broadcast rights to the World Series and All-Star Game for the next six years. Mutual may have been reindulging in TV network dreams or simply taking advantage of a long-standing business relationship; in either case, the broadcast rights were sold to NBC in time for the following season's games at an enormous profit.

NBC aired the second and third games of the 1951 National League tie-breaker series between the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants, necessitated by the teams' finishing the regular season in a tie for first place. The three-game pennant playoff, which featured the first baseball games televised live from coast to coast (with CBS airing the first game), culminated on October 3 when the Giants won the third and deciding game by the score of 5–4 (off Bobby Thomson's home run). Ernie Harwell called the game for Giants television flagship WPIX — the independent station's broadcast was simulcast nationally by NBC – and his description of the home run was a simple shout of "It's gone!" almost at the moment Thomson's bat struck Ralph Branca's pitch. Harwell later admitted he had probably called it "too soon", but fortunately for him, the call proved to be correct. "And then," Harwell recalled, "the pictures took over."[5]

The 1951 playoff between Brooklyn and the New York Giants and that year's World Series were the first major league baseball games telecast live from coast-to-coast; transcontinental network transmission lines had been completed and activated in September, in-time for the Japanese Peace Treaty Conference in San Francisco and the start of the 1951-52 television season.

On January 31, 1953, the New York Yankees, Cleveland Indians, and Boston Red Sox joined forces against St. Louis Browns owner Bill Veeck. The respective franchises tried to force the Browns to play afternoon games in an attempt to avoid having to share television revenues. A month later, Major League Baseball owners received a warning from Senator Edwin Johnson about nationally televising their games. Johnson's theory was that nationally televising baseball games would be a threat to the survival of minor league baseball. The owners pretty much ignored Johnson since the games on NBC in particular, were gaining a large and loyal following.

Another first for NBC during this period was the first color telecast of a World Series, the 1955 matchup between the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Yankees.

Additional notes[edit]
  • By 1950, World Series games could be seen in most of the country,[6][7] but not all. 1950 also marked the first time that there was an exclusive network television broadcaster (NBC). As noted above, West Coast viewers finally saw live major league games on television during the 1951 postseason.

NBC begins airing the Game of the Week (1957–1965)[edit]

Cover of the 1962 NBC Baseball Annual.

In 1957, NBC started airing weekend Game of the Week telecasts[15][16] (Sunday telecasts were added in 1959) with Lindsey Nelson and Leo Durocher calling the action. NBC during this period (as rival CBS had the rights to broadcast at least eight teams), typically broadcast from Pittsburgh's Forbes Field, Chicago's Wrigley Field, or Milwaukee's County Stadium. NBC purchased the rights to 11 Milwaukee Braves games, 11 Pittsburgh Pirates games, two Washington Senators games, and two Chicago Cubs games. Leo Durocher was succeeded as color commentator by Fred Haney in 1960, and Joe Garagiola in 1961, while Bob Wolff replaced Nelson on play-by-play in 1962.

From 1958 to 1960,[17] NBC aired a special regional feed of its games in the southeast, where NBC had a different sponsor (e.g. National Bohemian beer) than for the rest of the country. This feed featured its own announcing team, with Chuck Thompson calling the games with Bill Veeck (1958) and Al Rosen (1959–60). NBC never had a true backup game until 1966, when they got network Game of the Week exclusivity. In the process, the brought in Curt Gowdy and Pee Wee Reese for primary game, and Jim Simpson and Tony Kubek for the alternate (which was always shown in the markets of teams playing in the primary game) game.

1960–1965[edit]

As previously mentioned, in 1961, NBC hired Joe Garagiola to be their Major League Baseball colorman. The following year, Bob Wolff began play-by-play. "You work your side of the street [interviewing players]," said Garagiola to Wolff "and I'll work mine." Wolff liked Garagiola's pizazz as he would say stuff like "The guy stapled him to the bag" or a runner's "smilin' like he swallowed a banana peel." Also in 1962, NBC broadcast the National League tie-breaker series between the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers. Bob Wolff and George Kell[18] were the announcers for the playoff series. Bob Wolff also hosted the pregame shows for NBC's World Series coverage from 19621965.

By 1964,[19] CBS' Dizzy Dean and Pee Wee Reese called games from Yankee Stadium, Wrigley Field, St. Louis, Philadelphia, and Baltimore. New York got US$550,000 of CBS' $895,000. Meanwhile, six clubs that exclusively played nationally televised games on NBC got $1.2 million.

Schedules[edit]
Date Teams
April 16, 1960 Cincinnati @ Pittsburgh
April 17, 1960 Cincinnati @ Pittsburgh
April 23, 1960 Los Angeles @ St. Louis
April 24, 1960 Los Angeles @ St. Louis
April 30, 1960 New York Yankees @ Baltimore
May 1, 1960 Detroit @ Chicago White Sox
May 7, 1960 Detroit @ Boston
May 8, 1960 Cleveland @ Boston
May 14, 1960 Pittsburgh @ Milwaukee
May 15, 1960 Pittsburgh @ Milwaukee
May 21, 1960 San Francisco @ Pittsburgh
May 22, 1960 Washington @ Chicago White Sox
May 28, 1960 San Francisco @ St. Louis
May 29, 1960 Cleveland @ Detroit
June 4, 1960 Cincinnati @ Milwaukee
June 5, 1960 Cincinnati @ Milwaukee
June 11, 1960 Chicago White Sox @ Boston
June 12, 1960 Chicago White Sox @ Boston
June 18, 1960 New York Yankees @ Chicago White Sox
June 19, 1960 New York Yankees @ Chicago White Sox
June 25, 1960 Los Angeles @ Milwaukee
June 26, 1960 Los Angeles @ Milwaukee
July 2, 1960 Los Angeles @ Pittsburgh
July 3, 1960 Los Angeles @ Pittsburgh
July 9, 1960 Cincinnati @ Milwaukee
July 10, 1960 Cleveland @ Chicago White Sox
July 16, 1960 New York Yankees @ Detroit
July 17, 1960 New York Yankees @ Detroit
July 23, 1960 Cleveland @ Boston
July 24, 1960 Cleveland @ Boston
July 30, 1960 Cleveland @ Baltimore
July 31, 1960 Cleveland @ Baltimore
August 6, 1960 San Francisco @ Pittsburgh
August 7, 1960 Chicago Cubs @ Milwaukee
August 13, 1960 San Francisco @ Milwaukee
August 14, 1960 St. Louis @ Pittsburgh
August 20, 1960 Los Angeles @ St. Louis
August 21, 1960 Los Angeles @ St. Louis
August 27, 1960 Chicago White Sox @ Boston
August 28, 1960 Pittsburgh @ St. Louis
September 3, 1960 New York Yankees @ Baltimore
September 4, 1960 Philadelphia @ Pittsburgh
September 10, 1960 Los Angeles @ Milwaukee
September 11, 1960 Los Angeles @ Milwaukee
September 17, 1960 San Francisco @ St. Louis
September 18, 1960 Chicago White Sox @ Detroit
September 24, 1960 Pittsburgh @ Milwaukee
Additional notes[edit]
  • 1960 - Prior to the mid-1970s, television networks and stations generally didn't preserve its telecasts of sporting events, choosing instead to tape over them. As a result, the broadcasts of six of the seven 1960 games are no longer known to exist. The lone exception is a black-and-white kinescope of the entire telecast of Game 7, which was discovered in a wine cellar in Bing Crosby's home in Hillsborough, California in December 2009.[20] A part-owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates, who was too superstitious to watch the Series live, Crosby listened to the decisive contest with his wife Kathryn and two friends on a shortwave radio in Paris, France. Wanting to watch the game at a later date only if the Pirates won, he arranged for a company to record it. After viewing the kinescope, he placed it in his wine cellar, where it went untouched for 49 years. It was finally found by Robert Bader, vice president of marketing and production for Bing Crosby Enterprises, while looking through videotapes of Crosby's television specials which were to be transferred to DVD. The five-reel set is the only known complete copy of the historic match, which was originally broadcast in color.[20] The NBC television announcers for the Series were Bob Prince and Mel Allen, the primary play-by-play voices for the Pirates and New York Yankees respectively. Prince called the first half of Game 7, while Allen did the latter portion.[20]
  • 1961 - In contrast to preceding years, where NBC's Series telecasts featured two announcers (usually one from each participating team) who split the play-by-play, each working his portion of the game by himself, the network had Yankees announcer Mel Allen handle all of the play-by-play on television (with Reds announcer Waite Hoyt confined to radio) while Joe Garagiola provided color commentary. This format would eventually become the standard form of presentation on World Series telecasts.[21]
  • During the fourth and final game of the 1963 Series, Yankees announcer Mel Allen was calling the top of the ninth inning for NBC when his voice gave out due to a bout of severe laryngitis, forcing Dodgers announcer Vin Scully (who had called the first four-and-a-half innings of the game per the network's usual setup) to resume play-by-play duties for the remainder of the game. After the Series New York Daily News sportswriter Dick Young opined that Allen, the voice of the Yankees, had been stricken by "psychosomatic laryngitis" caused by his team being swept.[22]
  • In 1964, the New York Yankees made the World Series for the 15th time in 19 years—but Mel Allen wasn't there. Back in September, before the end of the season, the Yankees informed Allen that his contract with the team would not be renewed. As been frequently mentioned, in those days, the main announcers for the Series participants always called the World Series on NBC. Although Allen was thus technically eligible to call the Series, Baseball Commissioner Ford Frick honored the Yankees' request to have Phil Rizzuto join the Series crew instead. It was the first time Allen had missed a World Series for which the Yankees were eligible since 1943, and only the second World Series (not counting those missed during World War II) that he'd missed since he began calling baseball games in 1938. On December 17, after much media speculation and many letters to the Yankees from fans disgruntled at Allen's absence from the Series, the Yankees issued a terse press release announcing Allen's firing; he was replaced by Joe Garagiola. NBC and Movietone dropped him soon afterward. To this day, the Yankees have never given an explanation for Allen's sudden firing, and rumors abounded. Depending on the rumor, Allen was either homosexual, an alcoholic, a drug addict, or had a nervous breakdown.[23] Allen's sexuality was sometimes a target in those more conservative days because he hadn't married (and never did). Years later, Allen told author Curt Smith that the Yankees had fired him under pressure from the team's longtime sponsor, Ballantine Beer. According to Allen, he was fired as a cost-cutting move by Ballantine, which had been experiencing poor sales for years[23] (it would eventually be sold in 1969). Smith, in his book Voices of Summer, also indicated that the medications Allen took in order to maintain his busy schedule may have affected his on-air performance. (Stephen Borelli, another biographer, has also pointed out that Allen's heavy workload didn't allow him time to take care of his health.)

The Game of the Week exclusivity era (1966–1989)[edit]

Until 1965[24] (when Major League Baseball made its first ever, league-wide regular-season network television deal with ABC), there was no league-wide national television package for regular season Major League Baseball games. As a result, teams, if they so desired, could sell rights to the networks. Also prior prior to 1965, network regular season MLB telecasts had to be blacked-out in MLB cities. More to the point, by around the year prior, thanks to expansion (in 1960 and 1961), network regular season MLB games were shutout in most major markets. However, the network Games of the Week, up until the late 1980s, still could not be seen in the two cities whose local teams were playing in the respective Games of the Week.

From 1965 until the late 1980s, networks would cover two Saturday afternoon games each week: One that went to most of the network (a "primary game"), and the second only being seen in the home areas of the two teams playing in the network's "primary" game. Although the "primary" game would not be televised in the home markets of the two teams playing in that game, local TV rights-holders in those cities were free to broadcast that game. How this would work: Say for instance, a network's two Saturday afternoon Games of the Week involved the New York Yankees at the Boston Red Sox serving as the primary game and St. Louis Cardinals at the Chicago Cubs being the secondary game. The Yankees/Red Sox game would as a result, be seen everywhere except in New York, Boston, and possibly markets adjacent to New York and Boston. Ultimately, those markets got the Cardinals/Cubs game instead.

1960s[edit]

In 1966, the New York Yankees, who in the year before, played 21 Games of the Week for CBS joined NBC's package. The new package under NBC called for 28 games compared to 1960s three-network 123. On October 19, 1966, NBC signed a three-year contract with Major League Baseball. As previously mentioned, the year before, Major League Baseball sold an exclusive league-wide TV package for the rights to the Saturday-Sunday Game of the Week to ABC. NBC only covered the All-Star Game and World Series in 1965. In addition, a previous deal limited CBS to covering only 12 weekends when its new subsidiary, the New York Yankees, played at home. As previously mentioned, before 1965, NBC aired a slate of Saturday afternoon games beginning in 1957.

Under the new deal, NBC paid roughly US$6 million per year for the 25 Games of the Week, $6.1 million for the 1967 World Series and All-Star Game, and $6.5 million for the 1968 World Series and 1968 All-Star Game. This brought the total value of the contract (which included three Monday night telecasts such as a Labor Day 1966 contest between the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers) up to $30.6 million.

On April 16, 1966 in New York City, about fifty baseball, network, and ad officials discussed NBC's first year with the Game of the Week. New York could not get a primary match-up between the Detroit Tigers and New York Yankees with Curt Gowdy and Pee Wee Reese calling the action because of local blackout rules. Instead, New York got a backup game (or "'B' game") featuring Tony Kubek and Jim Simpson calling a game between the Cincinnati Reds and Chicago Cubs. That rule would be eliminated after the 1983 season.

In replacing CBS, NBC traded a circus for a seminar. Reese said "Curt Gowdy was its guy (1966–1975), and didn't want Dizzy Dean – too overpowering. Curt was nice, but worried about mistakes. Diz and I just laughed." Falstaff Brewery hyped Dean as Gowdy in return said "I said, 'I can't do "Wabash Cannonball." Our styles clash.-" then came Pee Wee Reese. Gowdy added by saying about the pairing between him and Reese "They figured he was fine with me, and they'd still have their boy." To many, baseball meant CBS' 1955–1964 Game of the Week thoroughbred. A year later, NBC bought ABC's variant of a mule so to speak. "We had the Series and All-Star Game. 1966–1968's Game meant exclusivity," said NBC Sports head Carl Lindemann. Lindemann added by saying "[Colleague] Chet Simmons and liked him [Gowdy] with the Sox and football-" also, getting two network sports for the price of one. As his analyst, Gowdy wanted his friend Ted Williams. NBC's lead sponsor, Chrysler said no when Williams, a Sears spokesman, was pictured putting stuff in a Ford truck.

Before 1966, local announcers exclusively called the World Series. Typically, the Gillette Company, the Commissioner of Baseball, and NBC television would choose the announcers. The announcers represented each of the teams that were in the World Series for the respective year. For the 1966 World Series, Curt Gowdy called half of each game before ceding the microphone to Vin Scully in Los Angeles, and Chuck Thompson in Baltimore. Scully was not satisfied with the arrangement as he said "What about the road? My fans won't be able to hear me." In Game 1 of the 1966 World Series, Scully called the first 4½ innings. When Gowdy inherited the announcing reigns, Scully was so upset that he refused to say another word.

Tony Kubek initially had trouble adjusting to the world of broadcasting. Although he had a lot to say, he was gangling, he tended to stutter, and talked too fast. Gowdy soon suggested to Kubek that he should work offseason to improve his delivery. Buying a recorder, Kubek often read poetry aloud for 20 minutes a day. In 1968, Kubek wowed as a World Series field reporter. Pee Wee Reese, who was soon fired by NBC (and replaced by Kubek as the top analyst) said of Kubek "He wormed his way around, but I wasn't bitter. I just think if you don't have anything to say, you should shut your mouth."

Schedules[edit]
Date Teams Play-by-play Color commentator(s)
April 15, 1967 Los Angeles @ St. Louis
San Francisco @ Atlanta
Curt Gowdy
Pee Wee Reese and Sandy Koufax
April 22, 1967 Kansas City @ Baltimore
Pittsburgh @ Chicago Cubs
Curt Gowdy
Pee Wee Reese and Sandy Koufax
April 29, 1967 Detroit @ Baltimore
Cleveland @ Chicago White Sox
Curt Gowdy
Pee Wee Reese and Sandy Koufax
May 6, 1967 San Francisco @ Pittsburgh
St. Louis @ Chicago Cubs
Curt Gowdy
Pee Wee Reese and Sandy Koufax
May 13, 1967 Atlanta @ Pittsburgh
Detroit @ Boston
Curt Gowdy
Pee Wee Reese and Sandy Koufax
May 20, 1967 Los Angeles @ Chicago Cubs
Washington @ Detroit
Curt Gowdy
Jim Simpson
Pee Wee Reese and Sandy Koufax
Tony Kubek
May 27, 1967 Los Angeles @ San Francisco Curt Gowdy Pee Wee Reese and Sandy Koufax
June 3, 1967 Atlanta @ Cincinnati
Detroit @ New York Yankees
Curt Gowdy
Pee Wee Reese and Sandy Koufax
June 10, 1967 Baltimore @ Minnesota
Chicago White Sox @ New York Yankees
Curt Gowdy
Pee Wee Reese and Sandy Koufax
June 17, 1967 St. Louis @ San Francisco
Kansas City @ Detroit
Curt Gowdy
Pee Wee Reese and Sandy Koufax
June 24, 1967 Chicago White Sox @ Minnesota Curt Gowdy Pee Wee Reese and Sandy Koufax
July 1, 1967 Cincinnati @ Chicago Cubs Curt Gowdy Pee Wee Reese and Sandy Koufax
July 8, 1967 Boston @ Detroit Curt Gowdy Pee Wee Reese and Sandy Koufax
July 15, 1967 Chicago Cubs @ Los Angeles Curt Gowdy Pee Wee Reese and Sandy Koufax
July 22, 1967 Atlanta @ St. Louis Curt Gowdy Pee Wee Reese and Sandy Koufax
July 29, 1967 Detroit @ Chicago White Sox Curt Gowdy Pee Wee Reese and Sandy Koufax
August 5, 1967 Boston @ Minnesota Curt Gowdy Pee Wee Reese and Sandy Koufax
August 12, 1967 Chicago White Sox @ Minnesota Curt Gowdy Pee Wee Reese and Sandy Koufax
August 19, 1967 California @ Boston[25] Curt Gowdy Pee Wee Reese and Sandy Koufax
August 26, 1967 Boston @ Chicago White Sox Curt Gowdy Pee Wee Reese and Sandy Koufax
September 2, 1967 Chicago White Sox @ Boston Curt Gowdy Pee Wee Reese and Sandy Koufax
September 9, 1967 Detroit @ Chicago White Sox Curt Gowdy Pee Wee Reese and Sandy Koufax
September 16, 1967 Baltimore @ Boston Curt Gowdy Pee Wee Reese and Sandy Koufax
September 23, 1967 Chicago White Sox @ Cleveland Curt Gowdy Pee Wee Reese and Sandy Koufax
September 30, 1967 Minnesota @ Boston
California @ Detroit
Curt Gowdy
Pee Wee Reese and Sandy Koufax
April 13, 1968 St. Louis @ Chicago Cubs Curt Gowdy Pee Wee Reese and Sandy Koufax
April 20, 1968 Cleveland @ Boston
Detroit @ Chicago White Sox
Curt Gowdy
Jim Simpson
Pee Wee Reese and Sandy Koufax
Tony Kubek
April 27, 1968 Chicago White Sox @ Minnesota Curt Gowdy Pee Wee Reese and Sandy Koufax
May 4, 1968 St. Louis @ San Francisco Curt Gowdy Pee Wee Reese and Sandy Koufax
May 11, 1968 Chicago White Sox @ Oakland Curt Gowdy Pee Wee Reese and Sandy Koufax
May 18, 1968 Cincinnati @ Pittsburgh Curt Gowdy Pee Wee Reese and Sandy Koufax
May 25, 1968 Boston @ Minnesota Curt Gowdy Pee Wee Reese and Sandy Koufax
June 1, 1968 St. Louis @ New York Mets
Baltimore @ Boston
Curt Gowdy Pee Wee Reese and Sandy Koufax
June 15, 1968 Detroit @ Chicago White Sox Curt Gowdy Pee Wee Reese and Sandy Koufax
June 22, 1968 Atlanta @ St. Louis
Detroit @ Cleveland
Curt Gowdy
Jim Simpson
Pee Wee Reese and Sandy Koufax
Tony Kubek
June 29, 1968 Cleveland @ Boston
St. Louis @ Chicago Cubs
Curt Gowdy
Jim Simpson
Pee Wee Reese and Sandy Koufax
Tony Kubek
July 6, 1968 St. Louis @ San Francisco
Minnesota @ Boston
Curt Gowdy
Jim Simpson
Pee Wee Reese and Sandy Koufax
Tony Kubek
July 13, 1968 Los Angeles @ Atlanta
Philadelphia @ Pittsburgh
Curt Gowdy
Jim Simpson
Pee Wee Reese and Sandy Koufax
Tony Kubek
July 20, 1968 Baltimore @ Detroit
Oakland @ Minnesota
Curt Gowdy
Jim Simpson
Pee Wee Reese and Sandy Koufax
Tony Kubek
July 27, 1968 St. Louis @ Pittsburgh Jim Simpson Tony Kubek
August 3, 1968 Detroit @ Minnesota
Oakland @ Cleveland
Curt Gowdy
Jim Simpson
Pee Wee Reese and Sandy Koufax
Tony Kubek
August 10, 1968 Boston @ Detroit
Pittsburgh @ Houston
Curt Gowdy
Jim Simpson
Pee Wee Reese and Sandy Koufax
Tony Kubek
August 17, 1968 Detroit @ Boston
Baltimore @ Minnesota
Curt Gowdy
Jim Simpson
Pee Wee Reese and Sandy Koufax
Tony Kubek
August 24, 1968 Detroit @ New York Yankees
Cleveland @ Washington
Curt Gowdy
Jim Simpson
Pee Wee Reese and Sandy Koufax
Tony Kubek
August 31, 1968 Baltimore @ Detroit Curt Gowdy Pee Wee Reese and Sandy Koufax
September 7, 1968 San Francisco @ St. Louis
Chicago White Sox @ Baltimore
Curt Gowdy
Jim Simpson
Pee Wee Reese and Sandy Koufax
Tony Kubek
September 14, 1968 Oakland @ Detroit
St. Louis @ Houston
Curt Gowdy
Jim Simpson
Pee Wee Reese and Sandy Koufax
Tony Kubek
September 21, 1968 St. Louis @ Los Angeles
Atlanta @ San Francisco
Curt Gowdy
Jim Simpson
Pee Wee Reese and Sandy Koufax
Tony Kubek
September 28, 1968 Houston @ St. Louis
Washington @ Detroit
April 12, 1969 San Francisco @ San Diego Curt Gowdy Tony Kubek
April 19, 1969 Oakland @ Kansas City
Seattle @ Chicago White Sox
Curt Gowdy
Jim Simpson
Tony Kubek
Sandy Koufax
April 26, 1969 Boston @ Detroit
Minnesota @ Chicago White Sox
Curt Gowdy
Jim Simpson
Tony Kubek
Sandy Koufax
May 3, 1969 Philadelphia @ St. Louis
San Diego @ Cincinnati
Curt Gowdy
Jim Simpson
Tony Kubek
Sandy Koufax
May 10, 1969 Cincinnati @ Montreal
San Francisco @ Chicago Cubs
Curt Gowdy
Jim Simpson
Tony Kubek
Sandy Koufax
May 17, 1969 Detroit @ Minnesota
Washington @ Chicago White Sox
Curt Gowdy
Jim Simpson
Tony Kubek
Sandy Koufax
May 24, 1969 St. Louis @ Los Angeles
Pittsburgh @ San Francisco
Curt Gowdy
Jim Simpson
Tony Kubek
Sandy Koufax
May 31, 1969 Detroit @ Seattle
Minnesota @ Boston
Curt Gowdy
Jim Simpson
Tony Kubek
Sandy Koufax
June 7, 1969 Cincinnati @ Chicago Cubs
Washington @ Minnesota
Curt Gowdy
Jim Simpson
Tony Kubek
Sandy Koufax
June 14, 1969 Baltimore @ Chicago White Sox
Cleveland @ Minnesota
Curt Gowdy
Jim Simpson
Tony Kubek
Sandy Koufax
June 21, 1969 San Francisco @ Atlanta
Montreal @ Chicago Cubs
Curt Gowdy
Jim Simpson
Tony Kubek
Sandy Koufax
June 28, 1969 Detroit @ Baltimore
St. Louis @ Chicago Cubs
Curt Gowdy
Jim Simpson
Tony Kubek
Sandy Koufax
July 5, 1969 Oakland @ Minnesota[26]
Baltimore @ Detroit
Curt Gowdy
Jim Simpson
Tony Kubek
Sandy Koufax
July 12, 1969 Philadelphia @ Chicago Cubs
Pittsburgh @ St. Louis
Curt Gowdy[27]
Jim Simpson
Tony Kubek
Sandy Koufax
July 19, 1969 Los Angeles @ San Francisco
New York Mets @ Montreal
Curt Gowdy
Jim Simpson
Tony Kubek
Sandy Koufax
July 26, 1969 Los Angeles @ Chicago Cubs
San Francisco @ St. Louis
Curt Gowdy
Jim Simpson
Tony Kubek
Sandy Koufax
August 2, 1969 Baltimore @ Minnesota
Chicago White Sox @ Detroit
Curt Gowdy
Jim Simpson
Tony Kubek
Sandy Koufax
August 9, 1969 California @ Boston
New York Mets @ Atlanta
Curt Gowdy
Jim Simpson
Tony Kubek
Sandy Koufax
August 16, 1969 Pittsburgh @ Cincinnati
St. Louis @ Atlanta
Curt Gowdy
Jim Simpson
Tony Kubek
Sandy Koufax
August 23, 1969 Houston @ Chicago Cubs
New York Yankees @ Minnesota
Curt Gowdy
Jim Simpson
Tony Kubek
Sandy Koufax
August 30, 1969 Boston @ Minnesota
Chicago Cubs @ Atlanta
Curt Gowdy
Jim Simpson
Tony Kubek
Sandy Koufax
September 6, 1969 Pittsburgh @ Chicago Cubs
Philadelphia @ New York Mets
Curt Gowdy
Jim Simpson
Tony Kubek
Sandy Koufax
September 13, 1969 Cincinnati @ San Francisco Curt Gowdy Tony Kubek
September 20, 1969 Los Angeles @ San Francisco Curt Gowdy Tony Kubek
September 27, 1969 San Francisco @ Los Angeles Curt Gowdy Tony Kubek
Additional notes[edit]
  • As previously mentioned, before 1966, NBC typically paired the top announcers for the respective World Series teams to alternate play-by-play during each game's telecast. For example, if the Yankees played the Dodgers in the World Series, Mel Allen (representing the Yankees) would call half the game and Vin Scully (representing the Dodgers) would call the other half of the game. But in 1966, NBC wanted their regular network announcer, Curt Gowdy, to call most of the play-by-play at the expense of the top local announcers. So instead of calling half of every World Series game on television (as Vin Scully had done in 1953, 1955, 1956, 1959, 1963, and 1965) they would only get to call half of all home games on TV, providing color commentary while Gowdy called play-by-play for the remaining half of each game. The visiting teams' announcers would participate in the NBC Radio broadcasts. In broadcasts of Series-clinching (or potentially Series-clinching) games on both media, NBC would send the announcer for whichever team was ahead in the game to that team's clubhouse in the ninth inning in order to help cover the trophy presentation and conduct postgame interviews.
  • In the early years of the League Championship Series, NBC typically televised a doubleheader on Saturday, a single game on Sunday (because of football coverage). They then, covered the weekday games with a 1.5 hour overlap, joining the second game in progress when the first one ended. NBC usually swapped announcer crews after Game 2.

1970s[edit]

1970–1975[edit]

In 1971, Sandy Koufax signed a ten-year contract with NBC for $1 million to be a broadcaster on the Saturday Game of the Week. Koufax never felt comfortable being in front of the camera; he quit before the 1973 season.

On October 13, 1971, the World Series held a night game for the very first time. Commissioner Bowie Kuhn, who felt that baseball could attract a larger audience by featuring a prime time telecast (as opposed to a mid-afternoon broadcast, when most fans either worked or attended school), pitched the idea to NBC. An estimated 61 million people watched Game 4 on NBC; TV ratings for a World Series game during the daytime hours would not have approached such a record number.

For World Series night games, NBC normally came on the air for baseball at 8:00 pm Eastern Time for the pregame show (with first pitch around 8:20–8:25). However, in 1986 and 1988, for Game 5 of the World Series (on Thursday night), NBC did not come on the air for baseball until 8:30. This allowed them to air the highly rated Cosby Show in its normal Thursday, 8:00 pm timeslot. NBC went with a very short pregame show and got to the first pitch at around 8:40 pm

Game of the Week schedules (1970–1972)[edit]
Date Teams Play-by-play Color commentator(s) Times (EST)
April 11, 1970 Cincinnati @ San Francisco Curt Gowdy Tony Kubek
April 18, 1970 Boston @ Detroit
San Francisco @ Cincinnati
Curt Gowdy
Jim Simpson
Tony Kubek
Sandy Koufax
April 25, 1970 Atlanta @ Pittsburgh
Detroit @ Minnesota
Curt Gowdy
Jim Simpson
Tony Kubek
Sandy Koufax
May 2, 1970 Minnesota @ Baltimore
Pittsburgh @ Cincinnati
Curt Gowdy
Jim Simpson
Tony Kubek
Sandy Koufax
May 9, 1970 San Francisco @ New York Mets
Pittsburgh @ Houston
Curt Gowdy
Jim Simpson
Tony Kubek
Sandy Koufax
May 16, 1970 Chicago Cubs @ St. Louis
Minnesota @ Milwaukee
Curt Gowdy
Jim Simpson
Tony Kubek
Sandy Koufax
May 23, 1970 California @ Minnesota
Chicago Cubs @ New York Mets
Curt Gowdy
Jim Simpson
Tony Kubek
Sandy Koufax
May 30, 1970 Houston @ New York Mets
Chicago White Sox @ Boston
San Francisco @ Pittsburgh
Curt Gowdy

Tony Kubek

June 6, 1970 San Francisco @ Chicago Cubs
Baltimore @ Milwaukee
Curt Gowdy
Jim Simpson
Tony Kubek
Sandy Koufax
June 13, 1970 Atlanta @ New York Mets
Boston @ Minnesota
Curt Gowdy
Jim Simpson
Tony Kubek
Sandy Koufax
June 20, 1970 Los Angeles @ Cincinnati
St. Louis @ Chicago Cubs
Curt Gowdy
Jim Simpson
Tony Kubek
Sandy Koufax
June 27, 1970 Boston @ New York Yankees
California @ Kansas City
Curt Gowdy
Jim Simpson
Tony Kubek
Sandy Koufax
July 4, 1970 Pittsburgh @ Chicago Cubs
Washington @ New York Yankees
Curt Gowdy
Jim Simpson
Tony Kubek
Sandy Koufax
July 11, 1970 Baltimore @ Detroit
Philadelphia @ Chicago Cubs
Curt Gowdy
Jim Simpson
Tony Kubek
Sandy Koufax
July 18, 1970 Minnesota @ Baltimore Curt Gowdy Tony Kubek
July 25, 1970 Houston @ Pittsburgh
Baltimore @ Minnesota
Curt Gowdy
Jim Simpson
Tony Kubek
Sandy Koufax
August 1, 1970 Pittsburgh @ Atlanta
New York Yankees @ Milwaukee
Curt Gowdy
Jim Simpson
Tony Kubek
Sandy Koufax
August 8, 1970 New York Mets @ Pittsburgh
Oakland @ Minnesota
Curt Gowdy
Jim Simpson
Tony Kubek
Sandy Koufax
August 15, 1970 Minnesota @ Boston
Montreal @ Houston
Curt Gowdy
Jim Simpson
Tony Kubek
Sandy Koufax
August 22, 1970 Cincinnati @ New York Mets
Washington @ Minnesota
Curt Gowdy
Jim Simpson
Tony Kubek
Sandy Koufax
August 29, 1970 Oakland @ Detroit
New York Mets @ Houston
Curt Gowdy
Jim Simpson
Tony Kubek
Sandy Koufax
September 5, 1970 New York Mets @ Chicago Cubs
Baltimore @ Boston
Curt Gowdy
Jim Simpson
Tony Kubek
Sandy Koufax
September 12, 1970 Pittsburgh @ Chicago Cubs
St. Louis @ New York Mets
Curt Gowdy
Jim Simpson
Tony Kubek
Sandy Koufax
September 19, 1970 Pittsburgh @ New York Mets
Chicago Cubs @ Montreal
Curt Gowdy
Jim Simpson
Tony Kubek
Sandy Koufax
September 26, 1970 New York Mets @ Pittsburgh
Chicago Cubs @ Philadelphia
Curt Gowdy
Jim Simpson
Tony Kubek
Sandy Koufax
April 10, 1971 Detroit @ Baltimore Curt Gowdy Tony Kubek
April 17, 1971 Atlanta @ Philadelphia
California @ Minnesota
Curt Gowdy
Jim Simpson
Tony Kubek
Sandy Koufax
April 24, 1971 Los Angeles @ Cincinnati Curt Gowdy Tony Kubek
May 1, 1971 Minnesota @ Boston
Milwaukee @ New York Yankees
Curt Gowdy
Jim Simpson
Tony Kubek
Sandy Koufax
May 8, 1971 St. Louis @ New York Mets
Washington @ Minnesota
Curt Gowdy
Jim Simpson
Tony Kubek
Sandy Koufax
May 15, 1971 Baltimore @ Boston
Chicago White Sox @ Minnesota
Curt Gowdy
Jim Simpson
Tony Kubek
Sandy Koufax
May 22, 1971 Atlanta @ New York Mets
Milwaukee @ Kansas City
Curt Gowdy
Jim Simpson
Tony Kubek
Sandy Koufax
May 29, 1971 Oakland @ Boston
Baltimore @ Minnesota
Curt Gowdy
Jim Simpson
Tony Kubek
Sandy Koufax
June 5, 1971 St. Louis @ Cincinnati Curt Gowdy Tony Kubek
June 12, 1971 San Francisco @ New York Mets
Cincinnati @ Chicago Cubs
Curt Gowdy
Jim Simpson
Tony Kubek
Sandy Koufax
June 19, 1971 Montreal @ Pittsburgh
Chicago White Sox @ Minnesota
Curt Gowdy
Jim Simpson
Tony Kubek
Sandy Koufax
June 26, 1971 Baltimore @ Boston
Milwaukee @ Minnesota
Curt Gowdy
Jim Simpson
Tony Kubek
Sandy Koufax
July 3, 1971 Pittsburgh @ Chicago Cubs
Atlanta @ New York Mets
Curt Gowdy
Jim Simpson
Tony Kubek
Sandy Koufax
July 10, 1971 Boston @ New York Yankees
Kansas City @ Minnesota
Curt Gowdy
Jim Simpson
Tony Kubek
Sandy Koufax
July 17, 1971 Los Angeles @ Atlanta Curt Gowdy Tony Kubek
July 24, 1971 Oakland @ Detroit
Boston @ Minnesota
Curt Gowdy
Jim Simpson
Tony Kubek
Sandy Koufax
July 31, 1971 Boston @ Chicago White Sox
California @ Detroit
Curt Gowdy
Jim Simpson
Tony Kubek
Sandy Koufax
August 7, 1971 Baltimore @ New York Yankees
Detroit @ Boston
Curt Gowdy
Jim Simpson
Tony Kubek
Sandy Koufax
August 14, 1971 Kansas City @ Boston
Oakland @ New York Yankees
Detroit @ Minnesota
Curt Gowdy

Tony Kubek

August 21, 1971 Pittsburgh @ Cincinnati
Houston @ Chicago Cubs
Curt Gowdy
Jim Simpson
Tony Kubek
Sandy Koufax
August 28, 1971 Los Angeles @ New York Mets
Atlanta @ Chicago Cubs
Curt Gowdy
Jim Simpson
Tony Kubek
Sandy Koufax
September 4, 1971 Chicago Cubs @ St. Louis
Montreal @ Pittsburgh
Curt Gowdy
Jim Simpson
Tony Kubek
Sandy Koufax
September 11, 1971 St. Louis @ Chicago Cubs
Pittsburgh @ Montreal
Curt Gowdy
Jim Simpson
Tony Kubek
Sandy Koufax
September 18, 1971 Atlanta @ Los Angeles Curt Gowdy Tony Kubek
September 25, 1971 San Francisco @ Cincinnati Curt Gowdy Tony Kubek
April 8, 1972 Boston @ Detroit (PPD due to strike) 2:15
April 15, 1972 Los Angeles @ Cincinnati
Pittsburgh @ New York Mets[29]
2:15
April 22, 1972 Pittsburgh @ Philadelphia
Chicago Cubs @ New York Mets
1:15
April 29, 1972 Chicago White Sox @ Detroit
Minnesota @ Milwaukee
2:15
May 6, 1972 Houston @ Chicago Cubs 2:15
May 13, 1972 Boston @ Oakland
Detroit @ Kansas City
3:15
May 20, 1972 Atlanta @ San Francisco
Minnesota @ Texas
3:15
May 27, 1972 Chicago White Sox @ Oakland
Texas @ Minnesota
3:15
June 3, 1972 Pittsburgh @ San Francisco
Boston @ Kansas City
3:15
June 10, 1972 Chicago Cubs @ San Francisco[30]
Boston @ California
Jim Simpson
Tony Kubek 3:15
June 17, 1972 Los Angeles @ Chicago Cubs
Baltimore @ Minnesota
2:15
June 24, 1972 St. Louis @ New York Mets
Pittsburgh @ Chicago Cubs
2:15
July 1, 1972 Baltimore @ Detroit
Milwaukee @ Boston
2:15
July 8, 1972 Chicago Cubs @ Cincinnati[31]


Los Angeles @ New York Mets

Curt Gowdy
Jim Simpson
Tony Kubek
Sandy Koufax
2:15
July 15, 1972 Houston @ Pittsburgh
Oakland @ New York Yankees
2:15
July 22, 1972 Oakland @ Boston[32]
Cleveland @ Chicago White Sox
Curt Gowdy Tony Kubek 2:15
August 5, 1972 Baltimore @ Boston 2:15
August 12, 1972 Cleveland @ Detroit 2:15
August 19, 1972 Boston @ Chicago White Sox
Cincinnati @ New York Mets
2:15
August 26, 1972 Baltimore @ Oakland 2:15
September 2, 1972 Chicago White Sox @ New York Yankees 2:15
September 16, 1972 Baltimore @ Detroit
New York Mets @ Houston
2:15
September 23, 1972 Detroit @ Boston 2:15
September 30, 1972 Milwaukee @ Detroit 2:15
Monday Night Baseball (1972–1975)[edit]

From 1972–1975, NBC televised Monday games under a contract worth $72 million. In 1973, NBC extended the Monday night telecasts (with a local blackout) to 15 straight. September 1, 1975 saw NBC's last Monday Night Baseball game, in which the Montréal Expos beat the Philadelphia Phillies 6–5. Curt Gowdy called the games for NBC with Tony Kubek in 1972–1974, being joined in the 1973 and 1974 seasons by various guest commentators from both in and out of the baseball world (among them Dizzy Dean, Joe DiMaggio, Satchel Paige, Bobby Riggs, Dave DeBusschere, Howard Cosell, Mel Allen, Danny Kaye, and Willie Mays). Jim Simpson and Maury Wills called the secondary backup games. Joe Garagiola hosted the pre-game show, The Baseball World of Joe Garagiola, and teamed with Gowdy to call the games in 1975.

During NBC's telecast of the Monday night Dodgers-Braves game on April 8, 1974, in which Hank Aaron hit his record-breaking 715th career home run,[33] Kubek criticized Commisssioner Bowie Kuhn on air for failing to be in attendance at Atlanta on that historic night. Kuhn argued that he had a prior engagement that he could not break.

Schedules:
Date Teams Guest commentator
June 12, 1972 Detroit @ Minnesota
Montreal @ Houston
June 19, 1972 Los Angeles @ Pittsburgh
New York Mets @ Houston
June 26, 1972 Pittsburgh @ New York Mets
Oakland @ Texas
July 3, 1972 Baltimore @ Detroit
Atlanta @ Houston
July 17, 1972 St. Louis @ Houston
Atlanta @ Pittsburgh
July 31, 1972 Boston @ Detroit
San Diego @ Houston
August 7, 1972 Atlanta @ Cincinnati
Cleveland @ Boston
August 14, 1972 Oakland @ Baltimore
San Francisco @ Houston
August 28, 1972 Chicago White Sox @ Boston
Baltimore @ Minnesota
September 4, 1972 Cleveland @ Detroit
New York Yankees @ Baltimore
May 21, 1973 San Francisco @ Houston Dizzy Dean
May 28, 1973 Oakland @ Detroit
Boston @ Kansas City
Joe DiMaggio

June 4, 1973 Kansas City @ Boston
Philadelphia @ Houston
Satchel Paige

June 11, 1973 San Francisco @ New York Mets Bobby Riggs
June 18, 1973 California @ Chicago White Sox
Oakland @ Kansas City
Dave DeBusschere

June 25, 1973 Detroit @ Boston
Cincinnati @ Houston
Howard Cosell

July 2, 1973 Los Angeles @ Cincinnati
San Diego @ Houston
Mel Allen

July 9, 1973 Cincinnati @ Montreal
Los Angeles @ New York Mets
Danny Kaye

July 16, 1973 San Francisco @ St. Louis
Los Angeles @ Montreal
Dizzy Dean

July 30, 1973 Detroit @ Baltimore
Atlanta @ Houston
Charley Pride

August 6, 1973 New York Yankees @ Detroit
Boston @ Baltimore
George C. Scott

August 13, 1973 Cincinnati @ Pittsburgh
Oakland @ Boston
Red Barber

August 20, 1973 New York Yankees @ Kansas City
Pittsburgh @ Houston
Bob Uecker

August 27, 1973 Los Angeles @ Montreal
St. Louis @ Houston
Glen Campbell

September 3, 1973 Los Angeles @ San Francisco
Cincinnati @ Houston
Chuck Connors

April 8, 1974 Los Angeles @ Atlanta Joe Garagiola
May 27, 1974 Baltimore @ Kansas City Joe Garagiola
June 3, 1974 Atlanta @ Philadelphia
Boston @ Minnesota
Emmett Ashford

June 10, 1974 Oakland @ Boston
Philadelphia @ Houston
Dick Williams

June 17, 1974 Montreal @ Cincinnati
Houston @ Philadelphia
Dizzy Dean

June 24, 1974 Philadelphia @ Monteal
Cincinnati @ Houston
Leo Durocher

July 1, 1974 Kansas City @ Chicago White Sox
Boston @ Baltimore
Willie Mays

July 8, 1974 Los Angeles @ Philadelphia
St. Louis @ Houston
Joe Garagiola

July 15, 1974 Cincinnati @ St. Louis
Oakland @ Baltimore
Jack Brickhouse

July 29, 1974 New York @ Boston[34]
San Francisco @ Houston
Bob Uecker

August 5, 1974 Cincinnati @ Los Angeles
Boston @ New York Yankees
Don Drysdale

August 12, 1974 Pittsburgh @ Cincinnati
Los Angeles @ New York Mets
Don Meredith

August 19, 1974 Philadelphia @ Cincinnati
New York Mets @ Houston
Monte Irvin

August 26, 1974 Cincinnati @ Philadelphia
Oakland @ Milwaukee
Red Barber

September 2, 1974 San Francisco @ Los Angeles
Cincinnati @ Houston
Joe Garagiola

April 14, 1975 Cincinnati @ Los Angeles
Chicago Cubs @ Pittsburgh
April 21, 1975 San Diego @ Houston
June 2, 1975 Los Angeles @ Montreal
June 9, 1975 Pittsburgh @ Cincinnati
Chicago Cubs @ Houston
June 16, 1975 Boston @ Detroit
Milwaukee @ New York Yankees
June 23, 1975 New York Yankees @ Baltimore
Los Angeles @ Houston
June 30, 1975 St. Louis @ Philadelphia
Houston @ Cincinnati
July 7, 1975 Milwaukee @ Kansas City
Philadelphia @ Cincinnati
July 21, 1975 Oakland @ Baltimore
Milwaukee @ Chicago
July 28, 1975 Milwaukee @ Boston
San Francisco @ Cincinnati
August 4, 1975 Pittsburgh @ St. Louis
Baltimore @ Boston
August 11, 1975 Los Angeles @ Philadelphia
St. Louis @ Houston
August 18, 1975 Cincinnati @ St. Louis
New York Mets @ Houston
August 25, 1975 Baltimore @ Kansas City
Atlanta @ Pittsburgh
September 1, 1975 Montreal @ Philadelphia
New York Yankees @ Boston
Joe Garagiola replaces Curt Gowdy[edit]

Starting in 1975, Joe Garagiola and Curt Gowdy alternated as the Saturday Game of Week play-by-play announcers with Tony Kubek doing color analysis. Then on weeks in which NBC had Monday Night Baseball, Gowdy and Garagiola worked together. One would call play-by-play for four and a half innings, the other would handle color analysis. Then in the bottom of the 5th inning, their roles switched. Ultimately, in November 1975, Chrysler forced NBC to totally remove Curt Gowdy from NBC's top baseball team. Instead, they wanted their spokesman, Joe Garagiola, to call all "A" regular season games, All-Star Games (when NBC had them), the top League Championship Series (when NBC had it), and the World Series (when NBC had it).

NBC hoped that, in replacing Curt Gowdy, Joe Garagiola's charm and unorthodox dwelling on the personal would stop the decade-long ratings dive for the Game of the Week. Instead, the ratings bobbed from 6.7 (1977) via 7.5 (1978) to 6.3 (1981–1982). "Saturday had a constituency but it didn't swell" said NBC Sports executive producer Scotty Connal. Some believed that millions missed Dizzy Dean while local-team TV split the audience. Scotty Connal believed that the team of Joe Garagiola and Tony Kubek were "A great example of black and white". Connal added by saying "A pitcher throws badly to third, Joe says, 'The third baseman's fault.' Tony: 'The pitcher's'." Media critic Gary Deeb termed theirs "the finest baseball commentary ever carried on network TV."

Another factor behind Gowdy's dismissal was because of criticism from the national media alleging that he sided with the Boston Red Sox (a franchise that he had covered prior to his days at NBC) over a controversial play in the 10th inning of Game 3 of the 1975 World Series. Cincinnati Reds pitcher Ed Armbrister reached base on what was ruled an error by Red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk on Armbrister's bunt attempt. Gowdy said numerous times that, in his opinion, Armbrister had interfered with Fisk. Gowdy had been given the correct interpretation by NBC Radio Producer Jay Scott (who was a Triple-A fill-in umpire at the time as well), but did not use it.[35] Umpire Larry Barnett claimed he had received death threats on account of Gowdy's criticism. More to the point, Tony Kubek, on the NBC telecast, immediately charged that Armbrister interfered (with the attempted forceout), even though home plate umpire Barnett did not agree. Later, Kubek got 1,000 letters dubbing him a Boston stooge. Prior to Game 2 of the 1986 World Series, NBC did a feature on replays narrated by Bob Costas. One of the plays cited by Costas was the Armbrister play, and Barnett and Costas both insisted that Barnett had made the correct call, although Barnett declared, "You won't find many people in Boston who believe it was the right call." Costas used the feature to condemn the suggested notion of instant replay to settle calls, noting that it was the "same kind of mentality that adds color to classic movies and calls it progress."

While Gowdy was on hand in the press box for Carlton Fisk's legendary home run in Game 6 of the 1975 World Series, the actual calls went to two of Gowdy's Red Sox successors, Dick Stockton on TV and Ned Martin on radio. Gowdy was Martin's color man on that home run. Meanwhile, according to the NBC cameraman Lou Gerard located above the third base stands, cameramen at the time were instructed to follow the flight of the ball. Instead Gerard was distracted by a rat nearby, thus he lost track of the baseball and instead decided to capture the image of Fisk "magically" waving the ball fair.[36]

Notes[edit]
  • In 1970, NBC televised the second games of both League Championship Series on a regional basis. Some markets got the NLCS at 1 pm ET along with a 4 pm football game while other markets got the ALCS at 4 pm along with a 1 pm football game.
  • In 1971, Game 1 of the ALCS was rained out on Saturday, October 2. NBC did not televise[37] the rescheduled Game 1 the following day (they had only planned an NLCS telecast that day), but added a telecast of Game 2 on Monday, October 4 (which had been a scheduled travel day).
  • Except for Game 1 in both series, all games in 1975 were regionally televised. Game 3 of both League Championship Series were aired in prime time, the first time such an occurrence happened.
1976–1979[edit]

On June 18, 1977, in the New York Yankees' 10–4 loss to the Boston Red Sox in a nationally-televised game at Fenway Park in Boston, Jim Rice, a powerful hitter but a slow runner, hit a ball into right field that Reggie Jackson seemed to get to without much speed, and Rice reached second base. Furious, Yankees manager Billy Martin removed Jackson from the game without even waiting for the end of the inning, sending Paul Blair out to replace him. When Jackson arrived at the dugout, Martin yelled that Jackson had shown him up. They argued, and Jackson said that Martin's heavy drinking had impaired his judgment. Despite Jackson being eighteen years younger, about two inches taller and maybe forty pounds heavier, Martin lunged at him, and had to be restrained by coaches Yogi Berra and Elston Howard. Red Sox fans could see this in the dugout and began cheering wildly, and the NBC TV cameras showed the confrontation to the entire country.

Alternating coverage with ABC: 1976–1979[edit]

Under the initial agreement with ABC, NBC, and Major League Baseball (1976–1979), both networks paid $92.8 million. ABC paid $12.5 million per year to show 16 Monday night games in 1976, 18 in the next three years, plus half the postseason (the League Championship Series in even numbered years and World Series in odd numbered years). NBC paid $10.7 million per year to show 25 Saturday Games of the Week and the other half of the postseason (the League Championship Series in odd numbered years and World Series in even numbered years).

Major League Baseball media director John Lazarus said of the new arrangement between NBC and ABC "Ratings couldn't get more from one network so we approached another." NBC's Joe Garagiola wasn't very fond of the new broadcasting arrangement at first saying "I wished they hadn't got half the package. Still, 'Game', half of the postseason – we got lots left." By 1980, income from TV accounted for a record 30% of the game's $500 million in revenues.

Schedules (1976-1979)[edit]
Date Teams Play-by-play Color commentator(s) Times (EST)
April 10, 1976 Houston @ Cincinnati
2:25
April 17, 1976 San Francisco @ Cincinnati
2:25
April 24, 1976 Baltimore @ Minnesota
2:25
May 1, 1976 Oakland @ Baltimore(Postponed)
Milwaukee @ Minnesota
2:25
May 8, 1976 Cincinnati @ Chicago
2:25
May 15, 1976 Los Angeles @ Pittsburgh
2:25
May 22, 1976 Kansas City @ Minnesota
2:25
May 29, 1976 Los Angeles @ Cincinnati
2:25
June 5, 1976 Oakland @ New York
2:25
June 12, 1976 Boston @ Minnesota
2:25
June 19, 1976 Cincinnati @ Philadelphia
2:25
June 26, 1976 Detroit @ Boston
2:25
July 3, 1976 Philadelphia @ Pittsburgh
2:25
July 10, 1976 Pittsburgh @ Cincinnati
2:25
July 17, 1976 Atlanta @ Pittsburgh
2:25
July 24, 1976 Boston @ New York
Detroit @ Cleveland
2:25
July 31, 1976 New York @ Boston
Oakland @ Minnesota
2:25
August 7, 1976 Philadelphia @ St. Louis
2:25
August 14, 1976 New York @ Minnesota
2:25
August 21, 1976 Baltimore @ Chicago
2:25
August 28, 1976 Philadelphia @ Cincinnati
2:25
September 4, 1976 Philadelphia @ New York
2:25
September 11, 1976 Kansas City @ Minnesota
2:25
September 18, 1976 Philadelphia @ Chicago
2:25
September 25, 1976 Pittsburgh @ St. Louis
2:25
October 2, 1976 Minnesota @ Kansas City
Detroit @ Milwaukee
2:25
June 18, 1977 New York Yankees @ Boston
April 15, 1978 Philadelphia @ St. Louis[39]
Chicago White Sox @ New York Yankees[40]
Joe Garagiola
Monte Moore
Tony Kubek
Maury Wills
June 9, 1979 New York Yankees @ Kansas City[41] Joe Garagiola Tony Kubek
June 16, 1979 Baltimore @ Minnesota
California @ Detroit[42]
2:00
September 29, 1979 Chicago Cubs @ Pittsburgh[43] Joe Garagiola Tony Kubek

1980s[edit]

1980–1982[edit]

The 1980 World Series is tied with the 1978 World Series for the highest overall television ratings to date, with the six games averaging a Nielsen rating of 32.8 and a share of 56.[44]

In 1981, as means to recoup revenue lost during a players' strike, Major League Baseball set up a special additional playoff round (as a prelude to the League Championship Series). ABC televised the American League Division Series while NBC televised the National League Division Series.[45] The Division Series round wouldn't be officially instituted until 14 years later. Games 1, 3 and 5 of the Phillies/Expos series and Games 2, 3 and 5 of the Dodgers/Astros series were regionally televised.

Even though Dick Enberg did play-by-play for the 1981 NLCS for NBC (working alongside Tom Seaver), Merle Harmon was for the most part, NBC's backup baseball play-by-play man (serving behind Joe Garagiola, who called that year's ALCS for NBC with Tony Kubek) in 1981. Harmon's broadcast partner during this period was Ron Luciano.[46] In late 1979, Harmon left the Milwaukee Brewers completely in favor of a multi-year pact with NBC. Harmon saw the NBC deal as a perfect opportunity since according to The Milwaukee Journal he would make more money, get more exposure, and do less traveling. At NBC, Harmon did SportsWorld, the backup Game of the Week, and served as a field reporter for the 1980 World Series. Harmon most of all, had hoped to cover the American boycotted 1980 Summer Olympics from Moscow. After NBC pulled out of their scheduled coverage of the 1980 Summer Olympics, Harmon considered it to being "A great letdown." To add insult to injury, NBC fired Harmon in 1982 in favor of Bob Costas.[47]

According to his autobiography, Oh My, Dick Enberg (then the lead play-by-play voice for The NFL on NBC) was informed by NBC that he would become the lead play-by-play voice of Major League Baseball Game of the Week beginning with the 1982 World Series (where he shared the play-by-play duties with Joe Garagiola alongside analyst Tony Kubek) and through subsequent regular seasons. He wrote that on his football trips, he would read every Sporting News to make sure he was current with all the baseball news and notes. Then he met with NBC executives in September 1982, and they informed him that Vin Scully was in negotiations to be their lead baseball play-by-play man (teaming with Joe Garagiola while Tony Kubek would team with Bob Costas[48]) and would begin with the network in the spring of 1983. Therefore, rather than throw him in randomly for one World Series, Enberg wrote that he hosted the pregame/postgame shows while the team of Joe Garagiola and Tony Kubek did the games. According to the book, Enberg was not pleased about the decision (since he loved being the California Angels' radio voice in the 1970s and was eager to return to baseball) but the fact that NBC was bringing in Scully, arguably baseball's best announcer, was understandable. Enberg added that NBC also gave him a significant pay increase as a pseudo-apology for not coming through on the promise to make him the lead baseball play-by-play man.

Schedules (1980–1982)[edit]
Date Teams Play-by-play Color commentator(s) Times (EST)
April 12, 1980 Los Angeles @ Houston
April 19, 1980 Texas @ Boston
April 26, 1980 Baltimore @ Kansas City
May 3, 1980 Los Angeles @ Philadelphia
May 10, 1980 Philadelphia @ Cincinnati
May 17, 1980 Oakland @ Toronto
May 24, 1980 Los Angeles @ Chicago Cubs
May 31, 1980 Milwaukee @ Boston
California @ Detroit
June 7, 1980 St. Louis @ Montreal
June 14, 1980 Boston @ California
New York Yankees @ Oakland
June 21, 1980 California @ Boston
June 28, 1980 Baltimore @ Boston
July 5, 1980 Boston @ Baltimore
July 12, 1980 Milwaukee @ Toronto
July 19, 1980 Los Angeles @ Pittsburgh
July 26, 1980 Boston @ Minnesota
August 2, 1980 Chicago Cubs @ San Francisco Joe Garagiola[49] Tony Kubek
August 9, 1980 Philadelphia @ Pittsburgh
August 16, 1980 Cincinnati @ Los Angeles
August 23, 1980 Baltimore @ Oakland
New York Yankees @ California
August 30, 1980 Cincinnati @ Pittsburgh
September 6, 1980 Cincinnati @ Chicago Cubs
September 9, 1980 Los Angeles @ Houston
Pittsburgh @ Philadelphia[50]
September 13, 1980 Pittsburgh @ Montreal
September 20, 1980 Montreal @ St. Louis
September 27, 1980 Montreal @ Philadelphia
October 4, 1980 Philadelphia @ Montreal
April 11, 1981 Philadelphia @ St. Louis
Texas @ New York Yankees
April 18, 1981 Pittsburgh @ Houston
St. Louis @ Cincinnati
April 25, 1981 Boston @ Baltimore
Kansas City @ Milwaukee
May 2, 1981 Minnesota @ Boston
May 9, 1981 Houston @ Cincinnati
San Francisco @ Montreal

Merle Harmon[51]

Ron Luciano
May 16, 1981 Cincinnati @ Pittsburgh
May 23, 1981 Los Angeles @ Cincinnati
May 30, 1981 Oakland @ Toronto
June 6, 1981 Los Angeles @ Chicago Cubs
August 15, 1981 St. Louis @ Montreal[52]
August 22, 1981 Houston @ Philadelphia
August 29, 1981 Oakland @ Boston
September 5, 1981 Houston @ Montreal
September 12, 1981 Montreal @ Chicago Cubs
September 19, 1981 Pittsburgh @ Philadelphia
September 26, 1981 Los Angeles @ Houston
Milwaukee @ Detroit
Joe Garagiola[53] Tony Kubek
October 3, 1981 Detroit @ Milwaukee
Atlanta @ Cincinnati
Joe Garagiola[54] Tony Kubek
April 10, 1982 San Diego @ Los Angeles
April 17, 1982 Philadelphia @ St. Louis
New York Yankees @ Detroit
April 24, 1982 St. Louis @ Philadelphia
May 1, 1982 St. Louis @ Cincinnati
Milwaukee @ Minnesota (DOUBLEHEADER)
May 8, 1982 Los Angeles @ Montreal
May 15, 1982 Boston @ Kansas City
May 22, 1982[55] Philadelphia @ Atlanta
Oakland @ Boston
Joe Garagiola
Bob Costas[56]
Tony Kubek
Sal Bando
May 29, 1982[57] Cincinnati @ Montreal[58]
Chicago White Sox @ Cleveland
Atlanta @ Philadelphia
Milwaukee @ California (DOUBLEHEADER)
Bob Costas
Jay Randolph
Dick Enberg 1:00
June 5, 1982 Seattle @ Detroit
San Francisco @ Chicago Cubs[59]
2:00
June 12, 1982 California @ Chicago White Sox
June 19, 1982 Cincinnati @ Los Angeles
June 26, 1982 Milwaukee @ Boston Joe Garagiola Tony Kubek
July 3, 1982 Oakland @ Texas
July 10, 1982 Minnesota @ Boston
July 17, 1982 Kansas City @ Boston
July 24, 1982 Houston @ St. Louis
July 31, 1982 Los Angeles @ Atlanta
Cleveland @ Milwaukee
August 7, 1982 Chicago White Sox @ Boston
August 14, 1982 Baltimore @ Boston
Philadelphia @ Montreal
August 21, 1982 Montreal @ Houston
August 28, 1982 California @ Boston
September 4, 1982 Houston @ Philadelphia
September 11, 1982 Los Angeles @ Houston
September 18, 1982 California @ Toronto
September 25, 1982 San Diego @ Atlanta
October 2, 1982 Milwaukee @ Baltimore
Oakland @ Kansas City
Los Angeles @ San Francisco (DOUBLEHEADER)
Additional notes[edit]
  • Tom Seaver provided periodic commentary during the 1982 World Series, but was not in the booth. As previously mentioned, Dick Enberg and Joe Garagiola traded off play-by-play duties (just like what Tony Kubek had done with Garagiola in NBC's previous World Series broadcasts) for NBC's coverage in 1982. Garagiola called the first three and last three innings. Enberg meanwhile, hosted the pregame show and then, called the middle innings.
Alternating coverage with ABC: 1983–1989[edit]

On April 7, 1983, Major League Baseball, ABC, and NBC agreed to terms of a six-year television package worth $1.2 billion. The two networks would continue to alternate coverage of the playoffs (ABC in even numbered years and NBC in odd numbered years), World Series (ABC would televise the World Series in odd numbered years and NBC in even numbered years), and All-Star Game (ABC would televise the All-Star Game in even numbered years and NBC in odd numbered years) through the 1989 season, with each of the 26 clubs receiving $7 million per year in return (even if no fans showed up). The last package gave each club $1.9 million per year. ABC contributed $575 million for regular season prime time and Sunday afternoons and NBC paid $550 million for thirty Saturday afternoon games.

1984 was the first year that the Game of the Week wasn't blackout. NBC and ABC generally still did two games each week, with a primary game to most of the country and a secondary game to mostly to the markets of the secondary game. This was mostly done for rainout insurance. During the 1970s & early '80s, many of the "rainout insurance" games involved the Houston Astros since they played in a domed ballpark. Therefore, if the Astros were at home on a given Saturday or Monday night, then was a safe bet that the game would be on network television, due to being the only "dome" team (until the Seattle Mariners debuted in the Kingdome in 1977).

The New York Times observed the performance of the team of Vin Scully and Joe Garagiola by saying "The duo of Scully and Garagiola is very good, and often even great, is no longer in dispute." A friend of Garagiola's said "He understood the cash" concerning NBC's 1984–1989 407% Major League Baseball hike. At this point the idea was basically summarized as Vin Scully "being the star" whereas, Joe Garagiola was Pegasus or NBC's junior light. When NBC inked a $550 million contract for six years in the fall of 1982, a return on the investment so to speak demanded Vin Scully to be their star baseball announcer. Vin Scully reportedly made $2 million a year during his time with NBC in the 1980s. NBC Sports head Thomas Watson said about Scully "He is baseball's best announcer. Why shouldn't he be ours?" Dick Enberg mused "No room for me. 'Game' had enough for two teams a week." Henry Hecht once wrote "NBC's Curt Gowdy, Tony Kubek, and Monte Moore sounded like college radio rejects vs. Scully." Vin Scully earned approximately $2 million per year for his NBC baseball broadcasting duties. Scully also reworked his Dodgers schedule during this period, as he would only broadcast home games on the radio and road games for television.

When Tony Kubek first teamed with Bob Costas in 1983, Kubek said "I'm not crazy about being assigned to the backup game, but it's no big ego deal." Costas said about working with Kubek "I think my humor loosened Tony, and his knowledge improved me." The team of Costas and Kubek proved to be a formidable pair. There were even some who preferred the team of Kubek and Costas over the musings of Vin Scully and the asides of Joe Garagiola. Costas was praised by fans for both his reverence and irreverence while Kubek was praised for his technical approach and historical perspective. One of the pair's most memorable broadcasts was the "Sandberg Game" on June 23, 1984. Bob Costas considered the Game of the Week his dream job saying "You can put a personal stamp on a baseball broadcast, be a reporter, something of a historian, a storyteller, conversationalist, dispenser of opinion."

Breakdown[edit]
  • 1983 – $20 million in advance from the two networks.
  • 1984 – NBC $70 million, ABC $56 million, total $126 million.
  • 1985 – NBC $61 million, ABC $75 million, total $136 million.

Note: The networks got $9 million when Major League Baseball expanded the League Championship Series from a best-of-five to a best-of-seven in 1985.

  • 1986 – NBC $75 million, ABC $66 million, total $141 million.
  • 1987 – NBC $81 million, ABC $90 million, total $171 million.
  • 1988 – NBC $90 million, ABC $96 million, total $186 million.
  • 1989 – NBC $106 million, ABC $125 million, total $231 million.
Schedules (1983–1988)[edit]

Ratings for the Game of the Week had dropped from an average of 6.1 in 1984 to 5.5 in 1988 and an average of 4.8 by July 1989. According to a Major League Baseball report, fewer than five million households viewed the average Saturday afternoon Game of the Week in 1988. In an effort to push the ratings, NBC tried to feature a club from one of the major media markets. Of the 32 games it aired 1988, only three did not feature a club from New York, Chicago or Los Angeles.[61]

Date Teams Play-by-play Color commentator(s) Times (EST)
April 9, 1983 Montreal @ Los Angeles
Milwaukee @ Kansas City
Vin Scully[62] Joe Garagiola
April 16, 1983 Kansas City @ Milwaukee
Montreal @ Houston
April 23, 1983 Los Angeles @ Pittsburgh
Seattle @ Detroit
April 30, 1983 Houston @ Philadelphia
May 7, 1983[63] California @ Detroit
Philadelphia @ Montreal

Bob Costas[64]

Tony Kubek
May 14, 1983 Montreal @ St. Louis
New York Yankees @ Chicago White Sox
Los Angeles @ San Diego (DOUBLEHEADER)[65]
May 21, 1983 Chicago White Sox @ Kansas City
May 28, 1983 Pittsburgh @ Cincinnati
San Francisco @ Los Angeles
June 4, 1983 California @ Milwaukee
St. Louis @ Atlanta
June 11, 1983 Baltimore @ Boston
June 18, 1983 California @ Toronto
Cincinnati @ Los Angeles
June 25, 1983 Pittsburgh @ St. Louis
July 2, 1983 Baltimore @ Detroit
July 9, 1983 California @ Boston
Milwaukee @ Chicago White Sox[66]
July 13, 1983 Texas Rangers @ New York Yankees Vin Scully[67] Joe Garagiola
July 16, 1983 Oakland @ Boston
July 23, 1983 Philadelphia @ Atlanta
July 30, 1983 Milwaukee @ Boston
August 6, 1983 Montreal @ Pittsburgh
August 13, 1983 Pittsburgh @ Montreal
August 20, 1983 Kansas City @ Baltimore
August 27, 1983 Toronto @ Detroit
September 3, 1983 Pittsburgh @ Atlanta
September 10, 1983 Kansas City @ Minnesota
September 17, 1983 St. Louis @ Philadelphia
September 24, 1983 Los Angeles @ Atlanta
October 1, 1983 Los Angeles @ San Francisco
April 7, 1984 Detroit @ Chicago White Sox[68]
Baltimore @ Minnesota
Vin Scully[69]
Bob Costas[70]
Joe Garagiola
Tony Kubek
1:30
April 14, 1984 Chicago White Sox @ New York Yankees
San Francisco @ Los Angeles
Vin Scully Joe Garagiola 3:00
April 21, 1984 San Diego at Los Angeles (PPD)
New York Mets @ Philadelphia
3:00
April 28, 1984 St. Louis @ Montreal
Atlanta @ Houston
12:00
May 5, 1984 Los Angeles @ Pittsburgh
Chicago White Sox at Boston
1:00
May 12, 1984 Chicago Cubs at Houston
California @ Detroit
1:00
May 19, 1984 California @ New York Yankees
Houston @ Chicago Cubs
2:00
May 26, 1984 Los Angeles @ New York Mets
Kansas City @ Boston
4:00
June 2, 1984 Baltimore @ Detroit
Chicago Cubs @ Philadelphia
2:00
June 9, 1984 Atlanta @ Los Angeles
Detroit @ Baltimore
3:00
June 16, 1984 Pittsburgh @ Montreal
Philadelphia @ Chicago Cubs
Baltimore @ New York Yankees
Chicago White Sox @ Oakland (DOUBLEHEADER)
1:00
4:00
June 23, 1984 Los Angeles @ Atlanta
St. Louis @ Chicago Cubs

Bob Costas[71]

Tony Kubek
1:30
June 30, 1984 Atlanta @ New York Mets
New York Yankees @ Kansas City (PPD)
1:30
July 7, 1984 California @ Boston (PPD)
Atlanta @ Philadelphia
Chicago Cubs @ San Francisco


Jay Randolph[72]


Mike Shannon
2:00
July 14, 1984 Chicago White Sox @ Baltimore
San Francisco @ Pittsburgh
1:30
July 21, 1984 Baltimore @ Kansas City
Philadelphia @ Atlanta
Boston @ California
Los Angeles @ St. Louis (DOUBLEHEADER)
1:00
4:00
July 28, 1984 Chicago Cubs @ New York Mets
St. Louis at Pittsburgh
1:30
August 4, 1984 Los Angeles @ Cincinnati
Chicago White Sox @ Milwaukee
2:00
August 11, 1984 Baltimore @ Toronto
Chicago Cubs @ Montreal
2:00
August 18, 1984 California @ Baltimore
Atlanta @ St. Louis
2:00
August 25, 1984 Atlanta @ Chicago Cubs
Los Angeles @ Philadelphia
2:00
September 1, 1984 Chicago Cubs @ Atlanta
Los Angeles @ Montreal
1:30
September 7, 1984 Chicago Cubs @ New York Mets[73]
September 8, 1984 California @ Chicago White Sox
Detroit @ Toronto
2:00
September 15, 1984 Chicago White Sox @ California
Toronto @ Detroit
2:00
September 22, 1984 Oakland @ Kansas City
New York Yankees @ Detroit
2:00
September 29, 1984 Kansas City @ Oakland
Minnesota @ Detroit
3:00
April 13, 1985 Detroit @ Kansas City
April 20, 1985 Boston @ Chicago White Sox
New York Mets @ Philadelphia
1:20
April 27, 1985 Kansas City @ Boston
New York Yankees @ Chicago White Sox
1:20
May 4, 1985 San Diego @ Chicago Cubs
New York Mets @ Cincinnati
Bob Costas[74] Tony Kubek 1:20
May 11, 1985 Detroit @ Chicago White Sox
New York Mets @ Philadelphia
New York Yankees @ Kansas City
Pittsburgh @ Los Angeles (DOUBLEHEADER)
1:20
4:05
May 18, 1985 New York Yankees @ California 3:20
May 25, 1985 Los Angeles @ New York Mets
Chicago Cubs @ Atlanta
Vin Scully[75]
Joe Garagiola 1:20
June 1, 1985 California @ Detroit
Cincinnati @ St. Louis

Bob Costas[76]

Tony Kubek
1:20
June 8, 1985 Pittsburgh @ Chicago Cubs
Los Angeles @ Atlanta
1:20
June 15, 1985 Milwaukee @ Baltimore
Los Angeles @ Houston
Chicago White Sox @ California
Detroit @ New York Yankees (DOUBLEHEADER)
1:20
4:05
June 22, 1985 California @ Chicago White Sox[77]
Atlanta @ Cincinnati
New York Yankees @ Detroit[78]
San Francisco @ San Diego (DOUBLEHEADER)
Bob Costas

Vin Scully
Tony Kubek

Joe Garagiola
1:20
4:05
June 29, 1985 Philadelphia @ Montreal
Atlanta @ Los Angeles
3:50
July 6, 1985 Baltimore @ Kansas City
New York Mets @ Atlanta
Boston @ California
2:20
1:20 PDT for Boston @ California
July 7, 1985 Chicago Cubs @ Los Angeles[79] Vin Scully Joe Garagiola
July 13, 1985 Los Angeles @ Chicago Cubs
San Francisco @ Pittsburgh
1:20
July 20, 1985 Oakland @ Toronto
Kansas City @ Baltimore
Atlanta @ New York Mets
Pittsburgh @ San Diego (DOUBLEHEADER)


Vin Scully[80]


Joe Garagiola
1:20
4:05
July 27, 1985 Atlanta @ Philadelphia
Chicago Cubs @ Los Angeles[81]

Vin Scully

Joe Garagiola
3:20
August 3, 1985 Chicago White Sox @ New York Yankees
Milwaukee @ Detroit
1:20
August 10, 1985 Chicago Cubs @ New York Mets
California @ Minnesota
Vin Scully[82]
Joe Garagiola
1:20
August 17, 1985 Boston @ New York Yankees
Kansas City @ Toronto

Bob Costas[83]

Tony Kubek
2:20
August 24, 1985[84] Detroit @ California
Minnesota @ Boston
Vin Scully[85]
Joe Garagiola
3:20
August 31, 1985 California @ New York Yankees
Chicago White Sox @ Toronto
1:20
September 7, 1985 New York Mets @ Los Angeles
Philadelphia @ San Diego
Vin Scully[86] Joe Garagiola 3:20
September 14, 1985 New York Mets @ Montreal
San Diego @ Houston
1:20
September 21, 1985 Montreal @ St. Louis
Pittsburgh @ New York Mets
Vin Scully[87]
Joe Garagiola
1:20
September 28, 1985 St. Louis @ Montreal Vin Scully[88] Joe Garagiola 3:50
October 5, 1985 California @ Texas 3:50
April 12, 1986 New York Mets @ Philadelphia 1:00
April 19, 1986 Los Angeles @ Atlanta
St. Louis @ Montreal
Chicago White Sox @ Boston
Minnesota @ California (DOUBLEHEADER)
Vin Scully
Jay Randolph
Bob Costas
Phil Stone
Joe Garagiola
Joe Morgan
Tony Kubek
Jim Kaat
1:00
4:00
April 26, 1986 New York Mets @ St. Louis
Chicago White Sox @ Detroit[89]
Vin Scully
Bob Costas
Joe Garagiola
Tony Kubek
1:00
May 3, 1986 California @ Milwaukee[90]
Atlanta @ Philadelphia[91]
Vin Scully
Bob Costas
Joe Garagiola
Tony Kubek
1:00
May 10, 1986 Cincinnati @ New York Mets
San Diego @ Chicago Cubs
Vin Scully
Bob Costas
Joe Garagiola
Tony Kubek
1:00
May 17, 1986 California @ Detroit
Kansas City @ Chicago White Sox
New York Mets @ Los Angeles (DOUBLEHEADER)
Vin Scully
Ted Robinson
Bob Costas
Joe Garagiola
John Lowenstein
Tony Kubek
1:00
4:00
May 24, 1986 California @ New York Yankees
Houston @ Chicago Cubs
Vin Scully
Bob Costas
Joe Garagiola
Tony Kubek
1:00
May 31, 1986 St. Louis @ Cincinnati
San Diego @ Philadelphia
Vin Scully
Jay Randolph
Joe Garagiola
Tony Kubek
1:00
June 7, 1986 Houston @ Los Angeles
St. Louis @ Chicago Cubs
Vin Scully
Bob Costas
Joe Garagiola
Tony Kubek
3:00
June 14, 1986 New York Yankees @ Baltimore[92]
Cincinnati @ Atlanta
Kansas City @ California[90][93] (DOUBLEHEADER)
Bob Costas
Jay Randolph
Vin Scully
Tony Kubek
Jim Kaat
Joe Garagiola
1:00
4:00
June 21, 1986 Baltimore @ Boston
New York Yankees @ Toronto
Vin Scully
Bob Costas
Joe Garagiola
Tony Kubek
1:00
June 28, 1986 New York Mets @ Chicago Cubs
Boston @ Baltimore
Vin Scully
Bob Costas
Joe Garagiola
Tony Kubek
3:00
July 5, 1986 New York Yankees @ Chicago White Sox
Baltimore @ Minnesota
Vin Scully
Bob Costas
Joe Garagiola
Tony Kubek
2:00
July 11, 1986 Atlanta @ New York Mets Vin Scully Joe Garagiola 8:30
July 12, 1986 Atlanta @ New York Mets
Philadelphia @ Houston
Vin Scully
Jay Randolph
Joe Garagiola
Joe Morgan
1:30
July 19, 1986 Los Angeles @ St. Louis
Philadelphia @ Cincinnati
Chicago White Sox @ New York Yankees
Toronto @ California (DOUBLEHEADER)
Vin Scully
Jay Randolph
Bob Costas
Ted Robinson
Joe Garagiola
Mike Shannon
Tony Kubek
Joe Morgan
1:00
4:00
July 26, 1986 Boston @ California Vin Scully Joe Garagiola 3:00
August 2, 1986 Atlanta @ San Francisco
Chicago Cubs @ Philadelphia
Vin Scully
Bob Costas
Joe Garagiola
Tony Kubek
3:00
August 9, 1986 Kansas City @ New York Yankees
Los Angeles @ Cincinnati
Vin Scully
Bob Costas
Joe Garagiola
Tony Kubek
2:00
August 16, 1986 New York Yankees @ Kansas City
St. Louis @ New York Mets
Vin Scully
Bob Costas
Joe Garagiola
Tony Kubek
2:00
August 20, 1986 New York Mets @ Los Angeles Vin Scully Joe Garagiola 8:00
August 23, 1986 California @ Baltimore
Cincinnati @ Chicago Cubs
Vin Scully
Bob Costas
Joe Garagiola
Tony Kubek
2:00
August 30, 1986 Los Angeles @ New York Mets
Chicago Cubs @ Atlanta
Vin Scully
Bob Costas
Joe Garagiola
Tony Kubek
2:00
September 6, 1986 San Diego @ New York Mets
St. Louis @ Houston
Vin Scully
Jon Miller
Joe Garagiola
Tony Kubek
2:00
September 13, 1986 Boston @ New York Yankees
Cincinnati @ Los Angeles
Vin Scully[94]
Jon Miller
Joe Garagiola
Tony Kubek
2:00
September 20, 1986 Boston @ Toronto
Chicago White Sox @ California
Vin Scully
Jon Miller
Joe Garagiola
Tony Kubek
2:00
September 27, 1986 Toronto @ Boston
Houston @ Atlanta[95]
Vin Scully
Bob Costas
Joe Garagiola
Tony Kubek
2:00
October 4, 1986 New York Yankees @ Boston
Atlanta @ Houston
Vin Scully
Bob Costas
Joe Garagiola
Tony Kubek
2:00
April 11, 1987 Atlanta @ New York Mets
April 18, 1987 Boston @ Toronto
April 25, 1987 New York Yankees @ Cleveland
Baltimore @ Milwaukee[96]

Bob Costas

Tony Kubek
May 2, 1987 Montreal @ New York Mets[97] Vin Scully Joe Garagiola
May 9, 1987 New York Mets @ Atlanta
May 16, 1987 Chicago Cubs @ Houston
May 23, 1987 Los Angeles @ New York Mets[98] Vin Scully Joe Garagiola
May 30, 1987 Boston @ Chicago White Sox
June 6, 1987 Los Angeles @ Cincinnati
June 13, 1987 Chicago Cubs @ St. Louis
June 20, 1987 New York Yankees @ Boston
June 27, 1987 New York Mets @ Philadelphia
July 4, 1987 Texas @ New York Yankees
July 11, 1987 New York Mets @ Houston
July 18, 1987 Chicago Cubs @ San Francisco
Baltimore @ Kansas City
Vin Scully[99] Joe Garagiola
July 25, 1987 Chicago Cubs @ Los Angeles
August 1, 1987 Detroit @ New York Yankees
August 8, 1987[100] New York Yankees @ Detroit
August 15, 1987 New York Mets @ Chicago Cubs
August 22, 1987 New York Yankees @ Oakland[101] Vin Scully Joe Garagiola
August 29, 1987 Atlanta @ Cincinnati
September 5, 1987 California @ New York Yankees
September 12, 1987 St. Louis @ New York Mets
September 19, 1987 Toronto @ New York Yankees
Milwaukee @ Detroit
Cincinnati @ San Francisco[102]


Bob Carpenter


Joe Morgan
September 26, 1987 Detroit @ Toronto[103]
St. Louis @ Chicago Cubs
Vin Scully
Joe Garagiola
October 3, 1987 Toronto @ Detroit[104]
April 9, 1988 Toronto @ Minnesota
New York Mets @ Philadelphia
April 16, 1988 New York Mets @ St. Louis
New York Yankees @ Milwaukee (DOUBLEHEADER)
April 23, 1988 Boston @ Milwaukee
Chicago Cubs @ Pittsburgh
April 30, 1988 Oakland @ Cleveland[105][106] Vin Scully Joe Garagiola
May 7, 1988 San Francisco @ Chicago Cubs
May 14, 1988 California @ New York Yankees
May 21, 1988 California @ Boston
May 28, 1988 Houston @ Chicago Cubs
June 4, 1988 Chicago Cubs @ New York Mets
June 11, 1988 Baltimore @ New York Yankees
June 18, 1988 New York Yankees @ Cleveland
June 25, 1988 New York Mets @ Chicago Cubs
Minnesota @ Oakland (DOUBLEHEADER)
July 2, 1988 New York Yankees @ Chicago White Sox
July 9, 1988 New York Mets @ Houston
July 16, 1988 Los Angeles @ Chicago Cubs
Chicago White Sox @ New York Yankees
July 23, 1988 San Francisco @ St. Louis[107]
Montreal @ Cincinnati[108]
Vin Scully
Bob Costas
Joe Garagiola
Tony Kubek
July 30, 1988 Houston @ Los Angeles
August 6, 1988 Boston @ Detroit
August 9, 1988 New York Mets @ Chicago Cubs
Los Angeles @ Cincinnati[109]
Vin Scully
Bob Costas
Joe Garagiola
Tony Kubek
August 13, 1988 Detroit @ Boston[110]
New York Yankees @ Minnesota
Vin Scully
Joe Garagiola
August 20, 1988 Oakland @ Boston[111]
Houston @ Pittsburgh
August 27, 1988 New York Yankees @ California
September 3, 1988 Los Angeles @ New York Mets
September 10, 1988 Detroit @ New York Yankees
September 17, 1988 New York Yankees @ Boston
September 24, 1988 Oakland @ Milwaukee
October 1, 1988 Boston @ Cleveland Ted Robinson[112] Tony Kubek
Additional notes[edit]
  • In the latter part of his career, National League umpire Doug Harvey became known for appearing in the "You Make the Call" segments on NBC's televised Game of the Week.[113]
  • For NBC's 1983 All-Star Game coverage, Don Sutton was in New York, periodically tracking pitches with the aid of NBC's "Inside Pitch" technology.
  • Vin Scully's call of the final play in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series on NBC television would quickly become an iconic one to baseball fans, with the normally calm Scully growing increasingly excited: "So the winning run is at second base, with two outs, three and two to Mookie Wilson. [A] little roller up along first... behind the bag! It gets through Buckner! Here comes Knight, and the Mets win it!" Scully then remained silent for more than three minutes, letting the pictures and the crowd noise tell the story. Scully resumed with "If one picture is worth a thousand words, you have seen about a million words, but more than that, you have seen an absolutely bizarre finish to Game 6 of the 1986 World Series. The Mets are not only alive, they are well, and they will play the Red Sox in Game 7 tomorrow!"
  • The 1988 World Series marked the last time that NBC[121] would televise a World Series for seven years. Beginning in 1990, NBC would be shut out of Major League Baseball coverage completely, after CBS signed a four year, exclusive television contract. After splitting coverage of the 1995 World Series with ABC, NBC would next cover a World Series exclusively in 1997.
    • Also as previously mentioned, longtime Los Angeles Dodgers' broadcaster Vin Scully called the 1988 World Series for a national television audience on NBC with Joe Garagiola. Unknown to the fans and the media at the time, Kirk Gibson was watching the game on television while undergoing physical therapy in the Dodgers' clubhouse.[122] At some point during the game, television cameras scanned the Dodgers dugout and Scully, observed that Gibson was nowhere to be found.[122] This spurred Gibson to tell Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda that he was available to pinch hit.[122] Gibson immediately returned to the batting cage in the clubhouse to take practice swings.[122] Bob Costas, who along with Marv Albert, hosted NBC's World Series pregame coverage and handled postgame interviews made on-air statements that enraged many in the Dodgers' clubhouse (especially manager Tommy Lasorda). After the Dodgers won Game 4, Lasorda (during a postgame interview with Marv Albert) sarcastically said that the MVP of the World Series should be Bob Costas. While Kirk Gibson was taking practice swings in the Dodgers' clubhouse during Game 1, Orel Hershiser set up the hitting tee for his teammate. Along the way, Costas could hear Gibson's agonized-sounding grunts after every hit.[123] Costas said that the 1988 Dodgers possibly had the weakest hitting line-up in World Series history.
      • The following is Vin Scully's call of Kirk Gibson's game inning home run in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series: "All year long, they looked to him to light the fire, [Scully began] and all year long, he answered the demands, until he was physically unable to start tonight—with two bad legs: The bad left hamstring, and the swollen right knee. And, with two out, you talk about a roll of the dice... this is it." Scully made repeated references to Gibson's legs, noting at one point that the batter was "shaking his left leg, making it quiver, like a horse trying to get rid of a troublesome fly." Gibson worked the count to 3–2 as Mike Davis stole second base; the camera turned at that point to Steve Sax getting ready for his turn at the plate, and Scully reminded the viewers that Sax waiting on deck but the game right now is at the plate. "High fly ball into right field, she i-i-i-is... gone!!" Scully said nothing for over a minute, allowing the pictures to tell the story. Finally, he said, "In a year that has been so improbable... the impossible has happened!" Returning to the subject of Gibson's banged-up legs during a replay, Scully joked, "And, now, the only question was, could he make it around the base paths unassisted?!" "You know, I said it once before, a few days ago, that Kirk Gibson was not the Most Valuable Player; that the Most Valuable Player for the Dodgers was Tinkerbell. But, tonight, I think Tinkerbell backed off for Kirk Gibson. And, look at Eckersley—shocked to his toes!" "They are going wild at Dodger Stadium—no one wants to leave!" As NBC showed a replay of Gibson rounding second base in his home run trot, Scully then made a point to note Eckersley's pitching performance throughout the 1988 season, to put things in perspective. "Dennis Eckersley allowed five home runs all year. And we'll be back."
The end of an era[edit]

After calling the 1988 World Series with Vin Scully, Joe Garagiola resigned from NBC Sports.[124][125] Although it wasn't official at the time, NBC was on the verge of losing the television rights to cover Major League Baseball to CBS.[126][127] Garagiola claimed that NBC left him "twisting" while he was trying to renegotiate his deal. Joe Garagiola was replaced by Tom Seaver[128] for the 1989 season.

NBC's final Major League Baseball broadcast was televised on October 9, 1989; Game 5 of the National League Championship Series between the San Francisco Giants and Chicago Cubs from Candlestick Park. Vin Scully said "It's a passing of a great American tradition. It is sad. I really and truly feel that. It will leave a vast window, to use a Washington word, where people will not get Major League Baseball and I think that's a tragedy. It's a staple that's gone. I feel for people who come to me and say how they miss it, and I hope me."

Bob Costas said that he would rather do a Game of the Week that got a 5 rating than host a Super Bowl. "Who thought baseball'd kill its best way to reach the public? It coulda kept us and CBS-we'd have kept the 'Game'[129]-but it only cared about cash. Whatever else I did, I'd never have left 'Game of the Week'" Costas claimed. Tony Kubek,[130] who (as previously mentioned) teamed with Bob Costas since 1983, said "I can't believe it!" when the subject came about NBC losing baseball for the first time since 1947.

Author and presidential speechwriter Curt Smith went a step further in saying that Major League Baseball's deal with CBS Sports was "sportscasting's Exxon Valdez." Had baseball valued national promotion provided by the Game of the Week, said Smith, it never would have crafted a fast-bucks plan that has cut off the widest viewership. "It's an obscene imbalance," Smith also said, "to have 175 games going to 60 percent of the country (in reference to Major League Baseball's corresponding cable TV deal with ESPN, which at the time was only available in about 60% of the country) and 16 games going to the rest." He added: "Baseball has paid a grievous price for being out of sight and out of mind. It's attacked the lower and middle classes that forms baseball's heart. . . . In the end, the advertising community has come to view baseball as a leper."[131]

Arthur Watson, president of NBC Sports, said in a statement that NBC had aggressively bid to continue its 41-year involvement in baseball (NBC's bid was reportedly in the $800 million range[132]) and was deeply saddened when learning of CBS' deal.[133]

After NBC lost the Major League Baseball package to CBS, they aggressively counterprogrammed[134] CBS' postseason baseball coverage with made-for-TV movies and miniseries geared towards female viewers.[135]

Since this is indeed...a sad moment for us as we sever our relationship with baseball...for a while at least, we would like to ask your indulgence and let us take this time to thank a lot of people!

Vin Scully prior to reading off the credits for NBC's 1989 NLCS coverage following the San Francisco Giants' pennant clinching victory against the Chicago Cubs.

And to all of the marvelous and wonderful cameramen and technicians who have represented NBC...over the 42 years of baseball broadcasts...and I think that can sum it up, each and everyone of us...we gave it our best shot! As did the Giants and the Cubs! And it's the Giants who go to the World Series, beating the Cubs 3 to 2. And we get the BART Series, the Bay Area Rapid Transit, the series that will be played in the memory of A. Bartlett Giamatti. There's a sweetness to that thought! It's over for us...time to surrender the stage...and the Giants have won the pennant! For Tom Seaver and for Mike Schmidt, this is Vin Scully saying so long...for the last time...from San Francisco!

—Vin Scully's final words as NBC signs off from its Major League Baseball coverage for the final time on October 8, 1989.[136]
Schedule (1989)[edit]
Date Teams Play-by-play Color commentator(s) Times (EST)
April 8, 1989 Los Angeles @ Atlanta[137]
Pittsburgh @ Chicago Cubs
3:00
April 15, 1989 New York Mets @ St. Louis[138]
April 22, 1989 Chicago Cubs @ New York Mets
Detroit @ Milwaukee
April 29, 1989 Los Angeles @ St. Louis
May 6, 1989 Houston @ New York Mets
May 13, 1989 Toronto @ Minnesota
New York Yankees @ California
Milwaukee @ Oakland (DOUBLEHEADER)[139]


Jay Randolph[140]


Joe Torre
May 20, 1989 San Francisco @ New York Mets
Pittsburgh @ Houston
May 27, 1989 Oakland @ New York Yankees
Cincinnati @ Chicago Cubs[141]
June 3, 1989 Chicago Cubs @ St. Louis
June 10, 1989 Detroit @ Toronto
June 17, 1989 Cincinnati @ San Francisco[142][143]
Oakland[144] @ Baltimore

Bob Costas[145]

Tony Kubek
June 24, 1989 Los Angeles @ Cincinnati
July 1, 1989 New York Mets @ Cincinnati
July 8, 1989 New York Yankees @ Boston
July 15, 1989 Kansas City @ New York Yankees
July 22, 1989 San Francisco @ Chicago Cubs
Cincinnati @ Montreal[146]
Vin Scully[147] Tom Seaver
July 29, 1989 San Francisco @ Houston
August 1, 1989 San Francisco @ Los Angeles Vin Scully[148] Tom Seaver
August 5, 1989 Houston @ San Francisco
Chicago Cubs @ Pittsburgh
August 12, 1989 Oakland @ California
August 19, 1989 Los Angeles @ New York Mets
Boston @ Milwaukee
August 26, 1989 Baltimore @ New York Yankees
Milwaukee @ Toronto
September 2, 1989 New York Mets @ San Francisco
September 9, 1989 New York Yankees @ Oakland
September 16, 1989 Chicago Cubs @ Pittsburgh
September 23, 1989 Pittsburgh @ Chicago Cubs[149]
Montreal @ New York Mets[150]
Vin Scully
Bob Costas
Tom Seaver
Tony Kubek
September 30, 1989 Baltimore @ Toronto[151][152] Bob Costas Tony Kubek
Additional notes (1989)[edit]
  • Former President of the United States, Ronald Reagan (who had just left office) served as the color commentator instead of Tom Seaver (Vin Scully's normal NBC broadcasting partner at the time) for the first inning of the 1989 game.[153]
    • Bo Jackson became a popular figure for his athleticism in multiple sports through the late 1980s and early 1990s. He endorsed Nike and was involved in a popular ad campaign called "Bo Knows" which envisioned Jackson attempting to take up a litany of other sports, including tennis, golf, luge, auto racing, and even playing blues music with Bo Diddley, who scolded Jackson by telling him, "You don't know diddley!"[154] (In a later version of the spot, Jackson is shown playing the guitar expertly, after which an impressed Diddley says, "Bo...you do know Diddley, don't you?") Serendipitously, the original spot first aired during the commercial break immediately following Jackson's lead-off home run in the 1989 Major League Baseball All-Star Game (as Vin Scully exclaimed, "Look at that one! Bo Jackson says hello!").
  • Vin Scully was unable to call Game 2 of the 1989 National League Championship Series (on Wednesday, October 4) because he had laryngitis. Thus, number two play-by-play man Bob Costas filled-in for him. Around the same time, Costas was assigned to call the American League Championship Series between Oakland and Toronto. Game 2 of the NLCS occurred on Thursday, October 5, which was an off day for the ALCS. NBC then decided to fly Costas from Toronto to Chicago to substitute for Scully on Thursday night. Afterwards, Costas flew back to Toronto, where he resumed work on the ALCS the next night.

The Baseball Network: 1994–1995[edit]

After a four-year hiatus, ABC and NBC returned to Major League Baseball under the umbrella of a revenue sharing venture called The Baseball Network.

The Baseball Network kicked off its coverage on July 12, 1994 with the All-Star Game[157] out of Pittsburgh's Three Rivers Stadium. The game was televised on NBC with Bob Costas, Joe Morgan, and Bob Uecker calling the action and Greg Gumbel hosting the pre-game show. Helping with the interviews were Hannah Storm and Johnny Bench. The 1994 All-Star Game reportedly sold out all its advertising slots. This was considered an impressive financial accomplishment, given that one thirty-second spot cost $300,000.

After the All-Star Game was complete, NBC was scheduled to televise six regular season games on Fridays or Saturdays in prime time. The networks had exclusive rights for the 12 regular season dates, in that no regional or national cable service or over-the-air broadcaster may telecast a Major League Baseball game on those dates.

In even numbered years, NBC would have the rights to the All-Star Game and both League Championship Series while ABC would have the World Series and newly created Division Series.[158] In odd numbered years the postseason and All-Star Game television rights were supposed to alternate.

The long term plans for The Baseball Network crumbled when the players went on strike on August 12, 1994 (thus forcing the cancellation of the World Series). In July 1995, ABC and NBC, who wound up having to share the duties of televising the 1995 World Series as a way to recoup (with ABC broadcasting Games 1, 4, and 5 and NBC broadcasting Games 2,[159] 3,[160] and 6[161]), announced that they were opting out of their agreement with Major League Baseball. Both networks figured that as the delayed 1995 baseball season opened without a labor agreement, there was no guarantee against another strike. Both networks soon publicly vowed to cut all ties with Major League Baseball for the remainder of the 20th century.

Five years after The Baseball Network dissolved, NBC Sports play-by-play man Bob Costas wrote in his book Fair Ball: A Fan's Case for Baseball that The Baseball Network was stupid and an abomination. Costas wrote that the agreement involving the World Series being the only instance of The Baseball Network broadcasting a national telecast, believed that it was an unprecedented surrender of prestige, as well as a slap to all serious fans. Unlike the National Hockey League and the National Basketball Association the so-called Big Two of North American professional sports leagues, the National Football League and Major League Baseball had nationally televised all playoff games for decades. While he believed that The Baseball Network fundamentally corrupted the game (except in Costas' point-of-view, the sense that the fans steadfast, spaniel-like loyalty), Costas himself acknowledged that the most impassioned fans in baseball were now prevented from watching many of the playoff games they wanted to see. Costas added that both the divisional series and the League Championship Series now merited scarcely higher priority than regional coverage provided for a Big Ten football game between Wisconsin and Michigan.

Additional notes[edit]

  • Prior to Game 3 of the 1995 World Series, Cleveland Indians slugger Albert Belle unleashed a profanity-laced tirade at reporter Hannah Storm of NBC. Storm was waiting in the Indians' dugout for a prearranged interview with Indians leadoff man, Kenny Lofton. Then out of nowhere, Belle came screaming profanities towards Storm. On the same day, Belle snapped at a photographer near the first base line during batting practice. Belle was ultimately fined US$50,000 for his behavior towards Storm. This particular World Series was remembered for baseball television history being made two times by Hannah Storm. Prior to Game 2, she became the first female sportscaster to serve as solo host of a World Series game, and after Game 6 she would be the first female sportscaster to preside over the presentation of the Commissioner's Trophy to the World Series champions. But she was not the first female sportscaster to cover the World Series. That honor fell to CBS Sports reporter Lesley Visser, who served as a field reporter for the 1990 World Series-1993 World Series. She would also cover that same World Series but for a different network ABC Sports

Trouble at NBC: 1996–2000[edit]

NBC viewers followed every pitch in the 1997 World Series with the aid of SuperVision, a pitch-tracking system developed by QuesTec Imaging Inc.

Despite of the failure of The Baseball Network, NBC decided to stay on with Major League Baseball but on a far more restricted basis. Under the five-year deal (from 1996–2000) for a total of approximately $400 million, NBC didn't televise any regular season games. Instead, NBC only handled the All-Star Game, three Division Series[162] games (on Tuesday[163] /Friday/Saturday nights), and the American League Championship Series in even numbered years and the World Series,[164] three Division Series games (also on Tuesday/Friday/Saturday nights), and National League Championship Series in odd numbered years. Also around this particular period, NBC adapted composer Randy Edelman's theme from the short-lived Fox series The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. as the main theme music[163] for their baseball telecasts. It should be mentioned however, that for their 1996 All-Star Game[165] coverage only, NBC used Edelman's "Emotions Run High" from the film The Big Green as the baseball theme.[166]

1997–1998[edit]

In 1997, just before the start of NBC's coverage of the World Series, West Coast entertainment division president and former NBC Sports executive producer Don Ohlmeyer came under fire after publicly announcing that he hoped that the World Series would end in a four game sweep. Ohlmeyer[167] believed that baseball now lacked broad audience appeal (especially in the aftermath of the 1994–95 Major League Baseball strike). As opposed to teams from the big three television markets (New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago) in the country, the 1997 World Series featured match-up of the upstart Florida Marlins and the Cleveland Indians, who made their second World Series appearance in three years. In addition, Ohlmeyer feared that the World Series would disrupt NBC's efforts to attract enough viewers for its new fall roster in order to stay on top of the ratings heap. Ohlmeyer said "If the A&E channel called, I'd take the call." Game 5 fell on a Thursday, which had long been the highest rated night on NBC's schedule, if not on all of television.

In 1998, Bob Uecker abruptly left NBC Sports before a chance to call the All-Star Game from Coors Field in Colorado. Uecker underwent a back operation in which four discs were replaced. For the remainder of the contract (1998–2000), only Bob Costas and Joe Morgan called the games. Also in 1998, NBC's coverage of the ALCS was the highest rated for any League Championship Series since before the 1994 strike. NBC averaged a 9.4 rating for the six games, which was a 6% increase than the network's coverage of the 1997 NLCS in the same time slot. The rating was 13% more than Fox's ALCS coverage in 1997 and 12% more than NBC's coverage in 1996.

A NBC Sports media pin for the 1997 World Series.

The Jim Gray/Pete Rose interview[edit]

In 1999,[168] NBC's field reporter Jim Gray, who had previously covered Major League Baseball for CBS, came under fire for a confrontational interview with banned all-time hit king Pete Rose.[169] Just prior to the start of Game 2 of the World Series, Gray pushed Rose—on hand (by permission of Commissioner Bud Selig) at Atlanta's Turner Field as a fan-selected member of MasterCard's All-Century Team—to admit to having wagered on baseball games as manager of the Cincinnati Reds ten years earlier. After NBC was flooded with tons of viewer complaints, Gray was forced to clarify his actions to the viewers at home prior to Game 3. Regardless of Gray's sincerity, Game 3 hero Chad Curtis of the New York Yankees boycotted Gray's request for an interview live on camera;[170] Curtis had hit a game-winning home run to send the World Series 3–0 in the Yankees' favor. Curtis said to Gray "Because of what happened with Pete, we decided not to say anything."[171][172]

Despite the heavy criticism he received, Gray offered no apology for his line of questioning toward Rose:

Although Dick Ebersol (then-president of NBC Sports)[174] and Keith Olbermann—among others—have maintained that Gray was simply doing his job,[175] It should be noted that in 2004, Pete Rose would admit to betting on baseball (along with other sports) while the manager of the Cincinnati Reds.[176]

2000[edit]

A NBC Sports media pin for their coverage of the 2000 Major League Baseball All-Star Game.

In 2000, NBC was caught in the dilemma of having to televise a first round playoff game between the New York Yankees and Oakland Athletics over the first presidential debate between George W. Bush and Al Gore. NBC decided to give its local stations the option of carrying the debate or the baseball game. If the NBC affiliate decided to carry the debate, then local Pax affiliate could carry the game. NBC also placed a crawl at the bottom of the screen to inform viewers that they could see the debate on its sister channel MSNBC.

On the other end, Fox said that it would carry baseball on the two nights when its schedule conflicts with the presidential or vice presidential debates. NBC spokeswoman Barbara Levin said "We have a contract with Major League Baseball. The commission was informed well in advance of their selecting the debate dates. If we didn't have the baseball conflict we would be televising it." Although there has not been confirmation, anecdotal reports indicate that many NBC affiliates in swing states (i.e., Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania) chose to air the debate over the baseball game. This is an option that CBS affiliates did not have in 1992, when that network refused to break away from Game 4 of the American League Championship Series (which had gone into extra innings) to the first Clinton-Bush-Perot debate. Like NBC and Fox would do in 2000, CBS cited its contract with Major League Baseball.

During NBC's coverage of the 2000 Division Series, regular play-by-play man Bob Costas decided to take a breather after anchoring NBC's prime time coverage of the Summer Olympic Games from Sydney. In Costas' place came Atlanta Braves announcer Skip Caray, who teamed with Joe Morgan before Costas' return for the ALCS.

Baseball leaves NBC again[edit]

In September 2000, Major League Baseball signed a six year, $2.5 billion contract with Fox[177] to show Saturday baseball, the All-Star Game, and exclusive coverage of the Division Series, League Championship Series and World Series. 90% of the contract’s value to Fox, who was paying Major League Baseball $417 million per year, came from the postseason, which not only attracted large audiences, but also provided an irreplaceable opportunity for the network to showcase its fall schedule to people who don’t otherwise watch much TV. Under the previous five-year deal with NBC (1996–2000), Fox paid $115 million while NBC only paid $80 million per year. Fox paid about $575 million overall while NBC paid about $400 million overall. The difference between the Fox and the NBC contracts implicitly values Fox's Saturday Game of the Week at less than $90 million for five years. Before NBC officially decided to part ways with Major League Baseball (for the second time in about 12 years) on September 26, 2000,[178] Fox's payment would've been $345 million while NBC would've paid $240 million. As previously mentioned, before 1990, NBC had carried Major League Baseball (in some shape or form) since 1947.

We have notified Major League Baseball that we have passed on their offer and we wish them well going forward.

NBC Sports president Ken Schanzer[179]

NBC Sports chairman Dick Ebersol added that it wasn't cost-effective for NBC to be putting out the kind of money that Major League Baseball wanted. NBC was also reportedly concerned over disruption to their regular fall prime time programming that would result from presentation of the playoffs and World Series. Also, NBC had several NASCAR auto races scheduled during the summer.

As previously mentioned, Game 6 of the 2000 ALCS is the last baseball game that NBC has televised to date.[180] In Houston, due to the coverage of the 2000 Presidential Debate, KPRC-TV elected to carry NBC News' coverage of the debate while KNWS-TV carried NBC's final baseball game.

The loss of Major League Baseball was part of a slow decline for NBC's sports division.[181] This began with their loss of the National Football League's American Football Conference rights to CBS at the end of the 1997 season. In 2002, NBC lost its National Basketball Association rights to ABC. This all culminated in the unproductive 2004–05 prime time season (despite heavy lineup promotion during the 2004 Summer Olympics), when NBC carried no major sporting championships during prime time. NBC did however, acquire National Hockey League rights in 2004,[182] but that league was in lockout).

In 2001, Bob Costas claimed that despite still loving the game, he now felt a certain alienation from the institution. By the time that NBC lost Major League Baseball for the second time in 12 years, the sport endured a strike, realignment, the wild card, and NBC's complete loss of the regular season Game of the Week. Costas would add that since NBC only did a few games each year and he lacked the forum that he would eventually have (HBO's On the Record with Bob Costas, Inside the NFL, and Costas Now as well as Costas on the Radio) to express his views, he to some extent, started editorializing in games. When asked about whether or not the fact that NBC no longer had the baseball rights was disappointing, Bob Costas said "I'm a little disappointed to lose baseball, but that's the way the business is. And it's not nearly as disappointing as it was when we lost it at the end of the '80s. Because then it was like baseball was the birthright for NBC. ... (Baseball is) not going to affect any decision that I have in the future. It's nowhere near as devastating as a decade ago. Different circumstances, different time. I miss it a little bit but not a lot. I am very philosophical about this stuff. I have had wonderful opportunities in my career and no one wants to hear me complain about anything." In 2009, Costas would become a contributor and occasional play-by-play announcer for MLB Network.

Future of Major League Baseball on NBC[edit]
2007-2013:

A June 4, 2006 article from Broadcasting & Cable stated that Fox may have considered a partnership with another network (which ultimately, turned out to be TBS) for the next contract. NBC was the only network named in connection to a possible partnership in the article. The setup being suggested was similar to the last time NBC had the rights to baseball, that being NBC getting some League Championship Series games and alternating the World Series and All-Star Game with Fox, who may or may not have kept the Game of the Week. After weeks of speculation and rumors, on July 11, 2006 at the All-Star Game, Major League Baseball and the Fox Broadcasting Company announced a renewal of their current contract through 2013. The contract would continue to give Fox exclusive rights to televise the World Series and the All-Star Game for the duration of the contract. The World Series would begin the Wednesday after the League Championship Series are completed. OLN (now NBCSN) was briefly considering picking up the rights to the Sunday and Wednesday games, which expired after the 2005 season. On September 14, 2005 however, ESPN, then the current rights holder, signed an eight-year contract with Major League Baseball, highlighted by the continuation of ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball series with additional, exclusive team appearances.

The New York Times however, reported that NBC was unlikely to get baseball, as they would have to preempt up to three weeks of National Football League coverage on Sunday nights. But the NFL used to not schedule a Sunday night game on the second night of the World Series, which meant that NBC was not completely out of the question (however, the following Sunday, which would possibly be Game 7 of the World Series, a Sunday night NFL game is scheduled). In addition to this, other Sunday playoff games, such as the ALCS and NLCS could be pushed to the afternoon. This might not be appetizing to baseball, as major playoff games would go up head-to-head against highly rated afternoon NFL games (as opposed to today's system, where only one game out of two for the day would go up against network NFL fare).[183]

On July 11, 2006, Fox and Major League Baseball signed a seven-year contract, which gives the network exclusive coverage of the All-Star Game and World Series through 2013. Also, Fox will retain the Fox Saturday Baseball Game of the Week and will broadcast one League Championship Series every year. This will rule out baseball returning to NBC until at least 2014, as the two annual showpiece events will not be available in any contract the network might obtain before then. Currently, the owner of NBC Universal, Comcast, owns a 5.44% stake in the MLB Network and featured a New York Mets-San Francisco Giants game with Bob Costas and Al Michaels (who while working for the Cincinnati Reds had previously helped NBC call the 1972 World Series and as of 2006, serves as the play-by-play voice for NBC's Sunday Night Football telecasts) in July 2011.

2014-2021:

During the summer of 2012, NBC Sports was reportedly involved in negotiations for Major League Baseball TV rights. NBCSN was expected to play a large part of NBC's bid.[184] However, it was likely that NBC would want either marquee event (All-Star Game and World Series) to air on the NBC network rather than cable. This could've potentially conflict with Sunday Night Football on NBC, which generally has had a game or two on World Series nights since 2010; however, prior to this no game was scheduled on these nights so it would not be unprecedented. Besides the potential conflicts with Sunday Night Football, another disadvantage[185] for NBCSN is that it was available in fewer than 80 million homes, trailing both Fox Sports 1 and TBS.

On August 28, 2012, Major League Baseball and ESPN agreed to an eight-year, $5.6 billion contract extension, the largest broadcasting deal in Major League Baseball history. It gives ESPN up to 90 regular-season games, one of the two Wild Card games which will rotate between American League and National League teams each year, and the rights to all regular-season tiebreaker games. On September 19, 2012, Sports Business Daily[186][187] reported that Major League Baseball would agree to separate eight-year television deals[188] with Fox Sports and Turner Sports[189] through the 2021 season. On October 2, 2012, the new deal between Major League Baseball and TBS was officially confirmed[190][191][192] NBC looked to be left without a package,[193] because though it made an offer, MLB didn’t consider NBC a serious bidder after the ESPN deal was made public. Sources said that NBC did not make a strong offer, and that it was most interested in ESPN’s package, which includes exclusivity on Sunday night and the two midweek games. When ESPN took that package, NBC’s interest waned.[194]

Related coverage[edit]

Major League Baseball on NBC Radio[edit]

For many years, the NBC Radio Network also had a role in Major League Baseball coverage. The network shared World Series broadcast rights with CBS beginning in 1927, with All-Star Game broadcasts added in 1933. The Mutual network joined NBC and CBS in 1935; the three networks continued to share coverage of baseball's "jewels" in this manner through 1938, with Mutual gaining exclusive rights to the World Series in 1939 and the All-Star Game in 1942.

In 1957, NBC replaced Mutual as the exclusive national radio broadcaster for the World Series and All-Star Game. The network would continue in this role through 1975, with CBS taking over the rights the following year. NBC Radio did not air regular season games in this period (save for the three-game National League pennant playoff series in 1959 and 1962); nor did the network cover the League Championship Series from 1969–1975, those series instead having local team radio broadcasts syndicated nationally over ad hoc networks.

Major League Baseball on former NBC-owned radio stations[edit]

Team/Market Station Years
Chicago White Sox WMAQ
(now WSCR)
19241934; 19671970; 19821995; 2006–present
Cleveland Indians WTAM 19291931; June 28, 1946; 19731991; 1998–present
Colorado Rockies KOA 1993–present
New York Mets WFAN 19882013
New York Yankees WFAN 2014–present
San Francisco Giants KNBR 1979–present

Major League Baseball coverage on NBC's owned and operated television stations[edit]

Team Stations Years
New York Yankees W2XBS/WNBT
(now WNBC-TV)
19391945
Philadelphia Phillies WCAU 2014–present
San Diego Padres KCST-TV
(now KNSD)
19711972; 19841986
San Francisco Giants KNTV 2008–present

Comcast SportsNet[edit]

As the result of the acquisition of a majority share in NBC Universal by Comcast in February 2011, the operations of CSN, along with sister national sports channels (Versus) and Golf Channel, were aligned into a new NBC Sports Group division.[195][196] While plans were made to re-brand the Comcast SportsNet channels under the NBC name as well, these plans have since been shelved. However, they will soon take on graphical elements from the new NBC Sports design.[197]

In the Summer 2011, NBC Owned Television Stations started to sell national advertising on behalf of affiliated cable channel, New England Cable News (NECN). With the success of the NECN advertising partnership in April 2012, NBC Owned Stations and the Comcast Sports Group extended the partnership nationwide with four additional markets where there are both a Comcast SportsNet channel and a NBC Owned station (New England, Mid-Atlantic, Northwest and Philadelphia). For "unwired sales", the Group will be continue to be represented by Home Team Sports.[198]

Name Region served Year Joined/ Launced Home to Former Name Notes
SportsNets
Bay Area Northern and central California, northwestern Nevada (including the Lake Tahoe-Reno-Carson City region), and parts of southern Oregon. 2008 San Francisco Giants (MLB), Golden State Warriors (NBA), San Jose Earthquakes (MLS) and local coverage of the Pacific-12, West Coast, Mountain West, and Western Athletic conferences. Pacific Sports Network (PSN),
SportsChannel Bay Area,
SportsChannel Pacific,
FSN Bay Area
Acquired majority share from Cablevision in April 2007. Comcast owns 45%, the Giants own 25%, and Fox owns 25%.[citation needed] While previously branded as an FSN affiliate, it switched to the Comcast SportsNet branding in March 2008.[199]
California Northern and central California. 2008 Oakland Athletics (MLB), Sacramento Kings (NBA), San Jose Sharks (NHL), San Jose Earthquakes (MLS), San Jose SaberCats (AFL), California Golden Bears (NCAA), other local sports coverage. CSN West Created in conjunction with Maloof Sports & Entertainment, owners of the Kings and Monarchs, after they did not renew their previous contract with FSN Bay Area. Originally launching as CSN West, the channel was renamed CSN California on Sept. 4, 2008 to serve as a compliment to CSN Bay Area.[citation needed]
Chicago Illinois, northwestern Indiana, Iowa, non-Milwaukee market areas of southern Wisconsin 2004 Chicago Bulls (NBA), Chicago Cubs (MLB), Chicago White Sox (MLB), Chicago Blackhawks (NHL), Chicago Fire S.C. (Major League Soccer), coverage of local women's college basketball games, as well as softball (the Chicago Bandits), and arena football (mainly the Chicago Rush). Created in conjunction with the Bulls, Blackhawks, White Sox, and Cubs (who own 20% each) in order to effectively replace FSN Chicago by giving them better editorial control over their broadcasts.[citation needed]
Houston Houston area 2012 Will become exclusive home of the Houston Rockets starting in the 2012-13 NBA season and the Houston Astros starting in the 2013 MLB season.
New York (SNY) New York City, New York state, Connecticut (except northeastern areas), northern and central New Jersey, northeastern Pennsylvania 2006 New York Mets (MLB), Big East, Sun Belt and other athletic conferences. Owned jointly by the New York Mets, Time Warner Cable, and Comcast SportsNet.
Philadelphia Philadelphia, eastern Pennsylvania, Delaware, southern and central New Jersey 1997 Philadelphia Phillies (MLB), Philadelphia Flyers (NHL), Philadelphia 76ers (NBA), Philadelphia Union (MLS), Philadelphia Wings (NLL), and college sports. PRISM & SportsChannel Philadelphia Flagship of the Comcast regional sports networks. Originally a joint venture between Comcast, the Phillies, and Spectacor (owner of the Flyers and 76ers), controlling interest in Spectacor was acquired by Comcast in 1996. Due to its re-use of the infrastructure from PRISM (which does not use any satellite uplinks to distribute programming to providers), it was legally exempt from requirements to offer its programming to satellite broadcasters until the FCC closed the loophole in 2010. Until then, CSN Philadelphia was exclusive to Comcast Cable and Verizon FiOS.

Announcers[edit]

References[edit]

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