Baseball Takes To the Airwaves

It was seventy years ago today that Major League Baseball made it's television debut.  On August 26, 1939, NBC television aired the first game on W2XBS, an experimental network broadcasting out of New York.  The game took place at Ebbets Field between the Brooklyn Dodgers and Cincinnati Reds.  It was a doubleheader, but only the first game, which the Reds won 5 - 2, was televised.

The announcer for the game was Red Barber. Barber was the play by play man for the Dodgers at the time.  He worked the game alone and handled all of the ads by holding up the products, discussing their virtues, putting them down and going back to play by play.  There were two cameras used for the game, one on the ground and one in the upper deck.

Since were only approximately 500 television sets in use at the time and because the signal only reached within a 50 mile radius, very few people actually saw the first braoadcast.

Red Barber continued on as the Dodgers broadcaster until 1953.  He moved to the Yankees and retired from broadcasting baseball in 1966.  NBC continued to air Major League Baseball games periodically from the 1940's through 2000.


Red Barber interviewing Leo Durocher after the game


August 26, 2009 | E-mail | Comments (2) | Comment RSSRSS comment feed

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8/27/2009 8:56:29 AM

There is nothing like the sound of vintage play by play broadcast (radio or tv)- with a little choppiness and authenticity. As a baseball fan in my late 20's - I would've loved to experience baseball in 30's, 40's or 50's. I think the movie Field of Dreams triggered that for me when I was 8 years old. Good post.

Jonathan | Reply

8/27/2009 4:25:41 PM

Too bad no one with a TV also had a kinescope device that day that they started up and running.  What is the oldest TV clip of a game available?  I know that 2 games from the 1952 World Series can be downloaded on iTunes.  I'm not sure I remember TV coverage before that.  Lots of film, obviously, but no TV.  (The oldest full regular season game available, I believe, is a 1969 Phils at Cubs game.  Unfortunately it's a Phillies loss.)

Steve | Reply

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