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Sports Weekend | TV-RADIO / LARRY STEWART

Scully's World Changed in '53

October 24, 2003|LARRY STEWART

This year not only marks the 100th anniversary of the World Series, it also marks the 50th anniversary of Vin Scully's first World Series.

In 1953, the Brooklyn Dodgers played the New York Yankees, and back then the participating teams' lead announcers worked the Series for network television. The Yankees' lead announcer was Mel Allen, the Dodgers' was Red Barber.

Sports broadcast historian David J. Halberstam of Florida, not to be confused with the Pulitzer Prize-winning author from Boston, said Barber got into a salary dispute with the sponsor, Gillette, who paid the announcers.

Barber wanted more than the $200 a game he was to be paid, according to Halberstam. No. 2 Dodger announcer Connie Desmond also declined to work the Series.

So Dodger owner Walter O'Malley recommended that 25-year-old Scully work with Allen.

"The first thing I did was check with Red and Connie to see if it was OK with them," Scully said Thursday. "I told them I was just a kid and could wait, that I wasn't going to do it without their blessing.

"They said, 'If you don't do it, then somebody else will.' "

Scully, who ended up announcing 22 World Series for television, radio or a combination of the two, at the time had done little television. Now he was going to be speaking to a national television audience -- on the World Series, no less.

"I tried to play it pretty cool," he said. "I was living at home with my mother and father and sister, and before the first game I sat down with them for breakfast as if it was just another day. Then I went upstairs and [lost] my entire breakfast."

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Record Setter

Commentator Tim McCarver worked his 79th World Series game Thursday night. No other broadcaster has worked that many Series games for network television. Play-by-play announcer Curt Gowdy had held the record of 78.

Fox surprised McCarver with a little celebration to commemorate the occasion in the middle of the fifth inning, when the game became official.

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No Time to Leave

The most memorable moment of the Series so far was Roger Clemens walking off the mound for probably the last time after the seventh inning Wednesday night. Because Clemens was due to bat first in the eighth, the crowd knew he was done and gave him a standing ovation.

Fox, to its credit, stayed with the moment 30 to 40 seconds longer than normal before going to a commercial break and did show Clemens' curtain call on tape. But ESPN Radio stayed with the celebration throughout, allowing announcers Jon Miller and Joe Morgan to fully describe what was taking place.

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Cable Dispute

Cox Communications chairman Jim Robbins has been leading the cable television industry's attack on ESPN and Fox Sports Net for what are perceived as excessively high programming costs. ESPN charges cable companies about $2 per month per subscriber, with a 20% increase looming. Fox Sports Net's fee varies from region to region.

Robbins has threatened to put those sports networks on a pay tier or drop them altogether.

George Bodenheimer, ESPN and ABC Sports president, responded to those threats in a speech at the National Press Club in Washington on Thursday.

"It is patently absurd to suggest that what Cox offers would be better if ESPN were to be ripped out and placed on a extra-fee tier, or dropped, as Cox has threatened," Bodenheimer said. "Cox's effort to blame ESPN for its retail pricing decisions is just plain wrong. For Cox, this is contract negotiation rhetoric directed solely at improving its already healthy, growing 35% [profit] margin."

Stay tuned. This could get interesting.

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Sounds on the Ice

The Kings and Fox Sports Net have been trying various things to draw more viewers to telecasts, including putting microphones on players and showing Coach Andy Murray's pregame speeches.

For the Kings' home game Saturday night against the Chicago Blackhawks, veteran NHL referee Kerry Fraser will wear a microphone, which should pick up some interesting conversations.

Also, Fox Sports Net announced this week it has added five road games to its King schedule, with four of the additions in November. The added telecasts are for games to be played on Nov. 5, 6, 8, 10 and Jan. 13.

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Short Waves

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