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.