I’ll talk these up tomorrow when the latest Hardball History video comes out, but it’s worth noting a couple of notable baseball broadcast anniversaries on the day they happened.
Seventy-four years ago today, on August 26, 1939, NBC televised the first major league game in history on its experimental station W2XBS. It was a Dodgers-Reds tilt, as they played a doubleheader that day. We don’t have any attendance numbers for those games and we certainly don’t have any Nielsen ratings for the broadcast given that, like, four people on the planet had TVs then. But we do know this much: thanks to Major League Baseball’s ridiculous blackout rules, more people were able to watch that 1939 Reds-Dodgers game than people in Las Vegas in 2013 can watch a Dodgers-Padres game or people in parts of Iowa can watch a Cubs-Cardinals game.
Also of note: while 1939 seems like ages and ages ago, it was only 11 years after that when Vin Scully began calling Dodgers games. He’s, of course, still at it today.
Moving to the digital age: On August 26, 2002 the first video streaming coverage of a major league baseball game took place on the internet. Approximately 30,000 fans visited MLB.com to see the Yankees defeat the Rangers, 10-3. That’s far short of the over 42,000 who saw the game live in Yankee Stadium, but it’s a pretty solid number for the pre-Facebook/Twitter age.
Some day all games will be available on multiple platforms and watched wherever and whenever the viewer deigns it so, without blackouts. Hopefully it takes less than 74 years for it to happen.
The Royals honored former pitcher Yordano Ventura prior to their first Cactus League game against the Rangers on Saturday. Ventura was killed in a car accident in his native Dominican Republic in late January.
Rangers’ third baseman Adrian Beltre and center fielder Carlos Gomez paid their respects to the pitcher with a floral arrangement that was laid on the mound. Both teams stood along the foul lines during a pregame video tribute that highlighted Ventura’s tenure with Kansas City. Following the game, Gomez spoke to the media about his relationship with Ventura, describing their frequent conversations during the season and commending the pitcher for having “the same passion that I had early in my career” (via WFAA.com’s Levi Weaver).
A plaque dedicated to the 25-year-old was also presented to club manager Ned Yost as a more permanent commemoration of Ventura’s contributions to the sport. Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star reports that the plaque will be mounted in the club’s spring training facilities alongside tributes to members of the Royals’ 2014 and 2015 playoff teams.
The full text of the plaque is below, via MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan:
A brother and a teammate, Yordano Ventura, passed away on the morning of January 22 in his native Dominican Republic, at the age of 25. He signed with the Royals as a 17-year-old, eventually making the big league team in 2013 as a 22-year-old. On most days, he could be found laughing and joking with his baseball family in the clubhouse. However, on days when he pitched, that smile was replaced by a quiet confidence and an intense fire, which he brought to the mound for every start. He had many highlights in his abbreviated career, not the least of which was throwing eight shutout innings in Game #6 of the 2014 World Series to force a Game #7 vs. San Francisco.
Right-hander Gerrit Cole is set to take the mound for the Pirates on Opening Day, according to a team announcement on Saturday. It’s a spot that was most recently occupied by former Pirate Francisco Liriano, who made three consecutive Opening Day starts for the club before getting dealt to the Blue Jays last August.
The 26-year-old produced career-worst numbers during his fourth run with the Pirates in 2016, due in large part to bouts of inflammation in his right elbow. He finished the year with a 3.88 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 over 116 innings before getting shut down in September to avoid further injury to his elbow. When healthy, however, Cole has been lights-out for the Pirates. Prior to his injury-laden campaign last year, he touted a career 3.07 ERA, 2.2 BB/9, 8.5 SO/9 and cumulative 10.2 fWAR from 2013 through 2015.
Cole will go toe-to-toe with the Red Sox during Boston’s home opener on Monday, April 3. Right-hander Jameson Taillon is scheduled to make the second start of the year, while fellow righty Ivan Nova will cover the Pirates’ home opener against the Braves on April 7. The Pirates’ third and fifth starters have yet to be announced.