75 years ago today, the first Major League Baseball game was televised
Before August 26, 1939, the only way you could watch Major League Baseball was by actually going to the stadium. Sure, you could listen to the games on the radio since 1921 (which was enjoyable and continues to be enjoyable), but to see Babe Ruth, Jimmie Foxx or Mel Ott you had to pay your hard-earned 50 cents.
And then, 75 years ago today, an experimental station in New York City (which would ultimately become WNBC-4), aired the very first contest -- a doubleheader between the Cincinnati Reds and Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field. The legendary Red Barber had the call, utilizing just two cameras (one aimed down the first-base line to pick up infield throws and one above home plate to give an overarching view of the diamond) to entertain the audience at home. Apparently, he also had to guess as to which camera angle was being shown on TV.
The Reds won the first game, 5-2, while the Dodgers took the second, 6-1. Fast-moving plays (like swinging bats, pitching) proved hard to capture. Vin Scully, Barber's protege, talked about the historic day a couple of years ago:
Just 3,000 people were able to enjoy the Reds-Dodgers game in 1939 from their homes, while last year's World Series attracted more than 14 million viewers. With instant replay, slow-mo and blimp cams, nearly every play is covered in today's game. We get to see our favorite players from all around the country play on a nightly basis, and we get to see their athleticism filmed as up-close-and-personal as we need it to be.