The game of baseball has a rich tradition when it comes to broadcasting, and a long list of iconic personalities who have sat behind the mic. But it wasn’t always that way. Harold Arlin’s first telecast of a Major League Baseball game took place in 1921, when most fans had to actually be at the ballpark to follow along with the score. Until then, it was a matter of looking up at a wooden scoreboard and changing the numbers manually.
Radio became the main way to watch a game until NBC got the rights for coast-to-coast telecasts starting in 1976, when it aired the first ever Monday Night Baseball games as well as half of the postseason (League Championship Series in odd-numbered years and World Series in even-numbered ones). ABC then picked up where NBC left off in 1978, and its new contract included a Thursday night game of the week and a Saturday afternoon telecast.
MLB’s current rights deal is set to expire in 2023, and Commissioner Rob Manfred has said he wants to revert back to the old system of teams owning their own local broadcasting rights. He would also like to allow MLB Network to be available on cable, and perhaps make it more accessible for cord-cutters.
Today, the vast majority of MLB games are televised locally through regional sports networks, or RSNs. In addition, some large-market teams (like the Yankees, Cubs and Mets) own their own national network, which shows a limited number of MLB regular season games. Other teams work with national outlets, including ESPN, Fox Sports 1, TBS and the MLB Channel. Some of these games are blacked out in the team’s market, while others — such as telecasts of League Championship Series and World Series games — are not.
Before the advent of TV, some broadcasters were still reluctant to have their teams’ games televised, as they worried that fans would tune in at home rather than come to the stadium. The Sporting News editorialized against baseball on radio in 1925: “Broadcasting stories of a game as it progresses is the equivalent of a succotash party with neither corn nor beans.”
But once broadcasting began in earnest, the popularity of the game increased. In the 1950s, Chicago’s WGN pioneered closeup cameras that allowed viewers to see the faces of the players and umpires as they called a game. The station also introduced center field cameras, a camera that has been in use for decades and is now a staple at every stadium.
The most famous names of all time have sat in the broadcast booth, with some becoming legendary. There’s Vin Scully, the voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers for more than 50 years; Red Barber, who called Cincinnati Reds and Brooklyn Dodgers games from the 1940s through the 1980s; and Harry Caray, whose famous call from the stands of Wrigley Field (“Holy cow!”) made him a household name. Those are just a few examples, but there are many more who have helped shape the history of MLB broadcasting. 메이저리그중계