Major League Baseball on ABC: Wikis

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Major League Baseball on ABC is the de facto title of a program that televises Major League Baseball games on the American Broadcasting Company (ABC). The program has appeared in various forms circa 1953-1965 (ABC Game of the Week), 19761989 (Monday Night and Thursday Night Baseball), and 19941995 (Baseball Night in America). ABC has not televised Major League Baseball since Game 5 of the 1995 World Series (October 26).

Contents

History

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1950s

In 1953, ABC-TV executive Edgar J. Scherick (who would later go on to create Wide World of Sports) broached a Saturday Game of the Week-TV sport's first network series. At the time, ABC was labeled a "nothing network" that had fewer outlets than CBS or NBC. ABC also needed paid programming or "anything for bills" as Scherick put it. At first, ABC hesitated at the idea of a nationally televised regular season baseball program. ABC wondered how exactly the Game of the Week would reach television in the first place and who would notice if it did?

In April 1953, Edgar Scherick set out to sell teams rights but instead, only got the Philadelphia Athletics, Cleveland Indians, and Chicago White Sox to sign on. To make matters worse, Major League Baseball barred the Game of the Week from airing within 50 miles of any ballpark. Major League Baseball according to Scherick, insisted on protecting local coverage and didn't care about national appeal. ABC though, did care about the national appeal and claimed that "most of America was still up for grabs."

In 1953, ABC earned a 11.4 rating for their Game of the Week telecasts. Blacked-out cities had 32% of households. In the rest of the United States, 3 in 4 TV sets in use watched Dizzy Dean and Buddy Blattner call the games for ABC.

CBS took over the Saturday Game in 1955 (the rights were actually set up through the Falstaff Brewing Corporation), retaining Dean and Blattner as the announcers and adding Sunday coverage in 1957. As ABC's Edgar Scherick said, "In '53, no one wanted us. Now teams begged for "Game"'s cash."

In 1959, ABC broadcast the best-of-three playoff series (to decide the National League pennant) between Milwaukee Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers. The cigarette company L&M was in charge of all of the telecasts. Bud Blattner (who was still working for CBS in the regular season) was one of the announcers.

1960s

1960-1961

In 1960[1], ABC returned to baseball broadcasting with a series of late-afternoon Saturday games. Jack Buck and Carl Erskine was the lead announcing crew for this series, which lasted one season.

ABC typically did three games a week. Two of the games were always from the Eastern or Central Time Zone. The late games (no doubleheaders) were usually San Francisco Giants or Los Angeles Dodgers' home games. However, the Milwaukee Braves used to start many of their Saturday home games late in the afternoon. So if the Giants and Dodgers were were both the road at the same time, ABC still would be able to show a late game.

One other note about ABC baseball coverage during this period. Despite temporarily losing the Game of the Week package in 1961, ABC still televised several games in prime time (with Jack Buck returning to call the action). This occurred as Roger Maris was poised to tie and subsequently break Babe Ruth's regular season home run record of 60.

As with all Major League Baseball games in those days, the action was totally blacked out of major league markets. As a matter of fact, as documented in the HBO film 61*, the Maris' family was welcomed into ABC's Kansas City, Missouri affiliate KMBC-TV so they could watch the in-house feed of the game, which was blacked out of Kansas City.

1965

In 1965[2][3], ABC provided the first-ever nationwide baseball coverage with weekly Saturday broadcasts on a regional basis. ABC paid $5.7 million for the rights to the 28 Saturday/holiday Games of the Week. ABC's deal covered all of the teams except the New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies (who had their own television deals) and called for two regionalized games on Saturdays, Independence Day, and Labor Day.

Each Saturday, ABC would broadcast two 2 p.m. games and one 5 p.m. game for the Pacific Time Zone. ABC blacked out the games in the home cities of the clubs playing those games. At the end of the season, ABC declined to exercise its $6.5 million option for 1966, citing poor ratings, especially in New York.

Chris Schenkel, Keith Jackson, and Merle Harmon (and on occasion, Ken Coleman) served as ABC's principal play-by-play voices for this series. Also on the network's announcing team were color commentators Leo Durocher, Tommy Henrich, Warren Spahn (who worked with Chris Schenkel on a July 17 Baltimore-Detroit contest), and Hall of Fame Brooklyn Dodger great Jackie Robinson (who, on March 17, 1965, became the first black network broadcaster for Major League Baseball). According to ABC Sports producer Chuck Howard, "(Robinson) had a high, stabbing voice, great presence, and sharp mind. All he lacked was time."

Schedule[4]
Date Teams Announcers
April 17, 1965 San Francisco @ New York Mets
Baltimore @ Boston
Chris Schenkel and Leo Durocher
April 24, 1965 St. Louis @ Cincinnati Merle Harmon and Jackie Robinson
Ma 1, 1965 Pittsburgh @ St. Louis
Minnesota @ Chicago White Sox
May 8, 1965 New York Yankees @ Washington
Cincinnati @ Pittsburgh
May 15, 1965 Los Angeles Angels @ Chicago White Sox
May 22, 1965 San Francisco @ Houston
May 29, 1965 New York Yankees @ Chicago White Sox
Cleveland @ Detroit
June 5, 1965 Los Angeles Dodgers @ Milwaukee
June 12, 1965 Los Angeles Dodgers @ New York Mets
San Francisco @ Pittsburgh
June 19, 1965 Chicago Cubs @ Cincinnati
June 26, 1965 Baltimore @ Chicago White Sox
July 3, 1965 San Francisco @ Chicago Cubs
New York Yankees @ Boston
July 10, 1965 New York Yankees @ Minnesota
Los Angeles Dodgers @ Pittsburgh
July 17, 1965 Baltimore @ Detroit Chris Schenkel and Warren Spahn
July 24, 1965 Chicago White Sox @ Detroit
July 31, 1965 San Francisco @ Milwaukee
August 7, 1965 San Francisco @ St. Louis
August 14, 1965 Cincinnati @ St. Louis
Minnesota @ Cleveland
August 21, 1965 Milwaukee @ Pittsburgh Chris Schenkel and Leo Durocher
August 28, 1965 Houston @ Pittsburgh
Cleveland @ Minnesota
September 4, 1965 San Francisco @ Chicago Cubs
Pittsburgh @ Milwaukee
September 6, 1965 San Francisco @ Los Angeles Dodgers Chris Schenkel, Leo Durocher and Jackie Robinson
September 11, 1965 Cincinnati @ Pittsburgh

1970s

1976-1977

Under the initial agreement with ABC, NBC, and Major League Baseball (1976[5]-1979[6]), both networks paid $92.8 million. ABC paid $12.5 million per year to show 16 Monday night games in 1976, 18 in the next three years, plus half the postseason (the League Championship Series in even numbered years and World Series in odd numbered years). NBC paid $10.7 million per year to show 25 Saturday Games of the Week and the other half of the postseason (the League Championship Series in odd numbered years and World Series in even numbered years).

Major League Baseball media director John Lazarus said of the new arrangement between NBC and ABC "Ratings couldn't get more from one network so we approached another." NBC's Joe Garagiola wasn't very fond of the new broadcasting arrangement at first saying "I wished they hadn't got half the package. Still, "Game", half of the postseason - we got lots left."

In 1976, ABC would pick up the television rights for Monday Night Baseball games from NBC. For most of its time on ABC, the Monday night games were held on "dead travel days" when few games were scheduled. The team owners liked that arrangement as the national telecasts didn't compete against their stadium box offices. ABC on the other hand, found the arrangement far more complicated. ABC often had only one or two games to pick from for each telecast from a schedule designed by Major League Baseball. While trying to give all of the teams national exposure, ABC ended up with way too many games between sub .500 clubs from small markets.

Just like with Monday Night Football, ABC brought in the concept of the three-man-booth (originally with Bob Prince, Bob Uecker, and Warner Wolf as the primary crew) to their baseball telecasts. Said ABC Sports head Roone Arledge "It'll take something different for it to work - i.e. curb viewership yawns and lulls with Uecker as the real difference", so Arledge reportedly hoped.

Prince disclosed to his broadcasting partner Jim Woods about his early worries about calling a network series for the first time. Prince for one, didn't have as much creative control over the broadcasts on ABC as he did calling Pittsburgh Pirates games on KDKA radio.

On the June 7, 1976 edition of Monday Night Baseball, Prince returned to Pittsburgh, where he had been exiled from for over a year. Although Prince received a warm reception, he was confused when the next day when the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette read:

Ratings are low, negative reviews rampant.

Bob Prince was gone by the fall of 1976, with Keith Jackson, Howard Cosell, and guest analyst Reggie Jackson calling that year's American League Championship Series. (Warner Wolf, Al Michaels and guest analyst Tom Seaver worked the NLCS.) On the subject of his dismissal from ABC, Bob Prince said "I hated Houston, and ABC never let me be Bob Prince."

Howard Cosell said of Bob Uecker that he was the only person in the series to have his reputation helped. Cosell, who hated athletes-turned-announcers, considered Uecker to being the exception. Cosell gloated that "The man's bigger than the game, bigger than the team, bigger than the league, bigger than the sport. They talk about a new commissioner, if I had my pick, it would be you, Bob Uecker." Uecker replied by sighing and telling Cosell that he wished he "had the time."

Schedules[7]
Date Teams Announcers
April 12, 1976 New York Yankees @ Baltimore
Oakland @ Texas
April 19, 1976 New York Mets @ St. Louis
Houston @ Los Angeles
May 10, 1976 Los Angeles @ St. Louis
Chicago White Sox @ Texas
May 31, 1976 New York Yankees @ Boston
Cincinnati @ Houston
June 7, 1976 Cincinnati @ Pittsburgh
Texas @ Baltimore
Bob Prince, Bob Uecker and Warner Wolf
June 14, 1976 Cincinnati @ Chicago Cubs
Kansas City @ Detroit
June 21, 1976 Cincinnati @ Los Angeles
Boston @ Baltimore
June 28, 1976 New York Yankees @ Detroit
Chicago Cubs @ Pittsburgh
Bob Prince, Bob Uecker and Warner Wolf
July 5, 1976 Philadelphia @ Los Angeles
New York Mets @ Houston
August 2, 1976 St. Louis @ Pittsburgh
New York Yankees @ Detroit
August 9, 1976 New York Yankees @ Kansas City
Los Angeles @ Pittsburgh
August 16, 1976 Texas @ New York Yankees
Baltimore @ Minnesota
August 23, 1976 St. Louis @ Cincinnati
Oakland @ Baltimore
Philadelphia @ Atlanta
August 30, 1976 Cincinnati @ St. Louis
Kansas City @ Baltimore
New York Yankees @ Oakland
September 6, 1976 Los Angeles @ San Diego
New York Yankees @ Boston
April 11, 1977 New York Yankees @ Kansas City
Chicago Cubs @ Philadelphia
April 18, 1977 Los Angeles @ Cincinnati
New York Mets @ St. Louis
Cleveland @ Baltimore
May 9, 1977 Cincinnati @ St. Louis
Chicago White Sox @ Texas
May 23, 1977 San Francisco @ St. Louis
New York Mets @ Pittsburgh
May 30, 1977 New York Yankees @ Boston
Los Angeles @ Houston
June 6, 1977 New York Yankees @ Texas
Chicago White Sox @ Minnesota
Boston @ Kansas City
June 13, 1977 Chicago White Sox @ Boston
Cincinnati @ Philadelphia
June 20, 1977 Philadelphia @ Cincinnati
New York Yankees @ Detroit
Chicago Cubs @ San Francisco
June 27, 1977 Pittsburgh @ St. Louis
Los Angles @ Atlanta
July 4, 1977 Cincinnati @ Atlanta
New York Mets @ Philadelphia
Kansas City @ Texas
July 11, 1977 New York Yankees @ Baltimore
Kansas City @ Chicago White Sox
July 25, 1977 Cincinnati @ St. Louis
Chicago White Sox @ Boston
New York Yankees @ Kansas City
August 1, 1977 Chicago Cubs @ Cincinnati
Minnesota @ Kansas City
August 8, 1977 Chicago Cubs @ Pittsburgh
Cincinnati @ Los Angeles
August 15, 1977 Kansas City @ Boston
Chicago White Sox @ New York Yankees
August 22, 1977 Boston @ Minnesota
Los Angeles @ St. Louis
New York Yankees @ Chicago White Sox
August 29, 1977 Oakland @ Boston
Chicago White Sox @ Cleveland
September 5, 1977 New York Yankees @ Cleveland
Boston @ Toronto (not broadcast)
Los Angeles @ San Diego
Minnesota @ Texas

1978-1979

In 1978[8], Baseball Hall of Famer Don Drysdale joined ABC Sports with assignments such as Monday Night Baseball, Superstars, and Wide World of Sports. In 1979, Drysdale covered the World Series Trophy presentation. According to Drysdale "My thing is to talk about inside things. Keith [Jackson] does play-by-play. Howard's [Cosell] role is anything since anything can happen in broadcasting." When ABC released and then rehired him in 1981[9], Drysdale explained it by saying "If there is nothing to say, be quiet." Ultimately, Drysdale seemed to be slowly phased out of the ABC picture as fellow Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer was considered ABC's new poster child "[of] superior looks and...popularity from underwear commercials."

Schedules
Date Teams Announcers
April 10, 1978 New York Yankees @ Texas
Los Angeles @ Houston
April 17, 1978 Cincinnati @ Los Angeles
Baltimore @ New York Yankees
April 24, 1978 Kansas City @ Texas
New York Yankees @ Baltimore
May 1, 1978 Philadelphia @ Cincinnati
Boston @ Baltimore
May 8, 1978 New York Mets @ Cincinnati
May 22, 1978 Los Angeles @ San Diego
Texas @ Minnesota
May 29, 1978 Pittsburgh @ Philadelphia
San Francisco @ Houston
June 5, 1978 San Francisco @ Philadelphia
Los Angeles @ New York Mets
Chicago White Sox @ Cleveland
June 12, 1978 Chicago Cubs @ Cincinnati
Oakland @ New York Yankees
Los Angeles @ Philadelphia
June 19, 1978 New York Yankees @ Boston
Chicago Cubs @ Pittsburgh
June 26, 1978 Boston @ New York Yankees
Kansas City @ California
July 3, 1978 New York Yankees @ Boston
California @ Kansas City
July 17, 1978 Minnesota @ Boston
San Francisco @ St. Louis
July 24, 1978 New York Yankees @ Kansas City
Cincinnati @ New York Mets
July 31, 1978 New York Mets @ Philadelphia
San Francisco @ Houston
August 7, 1978 Atlanta @ Cincinnati
California @ Oakland
August 14, 1978 New York Yankees @ Baltimore
Cincinnati @ Pittsburgh
August 21, 1978 Los Angeles @ Montreal
Chicago Cubs @ Houston
August 28, 1978 Pittsburgh @ Cincinnati
California @ New York Yankees
June 4, 1979 Texas @ Boston
Los Angeles @ Pittsburgh
June 11, 1979 Boston @ Kansas City
Houston @ Pittsburgh
June 18, 1979 Chicago Cubs @ Los Angeles
Cincinnati @ Montreal
June 25, 1979 Cincinnati @ Houston
Montreal @ St. Louis
July 2, 1979 Boston @ New York Yankees
Baltimore @ Texas
July 9, 1979 Los Angeles @ Montreal
Boston @ California
July 13, 1979 New York Yankees @ California
July 23, 1979 California @ Boston
Kansas City @ Texas
July 30, 1979 Baltimore @ Milwaukee
New York Yankees @ Chicago White Sox
Chicago Cubs @ Philadelphia
August 6, 1979 Baltimore @ New York Yankees
Los Angeles @ San Francisco
Keith Jackson, Howard Cosell and Don Drysdale
August 13, 1979 Pittsburgh @ Philadelphia
Montreal @ Houston
August 20, 1979 Texas @ Baltimore
Cincinnati @ Montreal
August 27, 1979 Houston @ Montreal
Cincinnati @ Philadelphia
September 9, 1979 Los Angeles @ Cincinnati
San Francisco @ Houston
September 23, 1979 Cincinnati @ Houston
September 30, 1979 Chicago Cubs @ Pittsburgh
Montreal @ Philadelphia

1980s

1980-1982 schedules

Date Teams Announcers
June 2, 1980 New York Yankees @ Kansas City
Cincinnati @ Los Angeles
June 9, 1980 Los Angeles @ New York Mets
New York Yankees @ California
June 16, 1980 Cincinnati @ Pittsburgh
Oakland @ Boston
June 23, 1980 Los Angeles @ Houston
Boston @ New York Yankees
June 30, 1980 New York Yankees @ Boston
Philadelphia @ Montreal
August 17, 1980 Montreal @ Pittsburgh
New York Yankees @ Baltimore
August 24, 1980 Los Angeles @ New York Mets
Baltimore @ Oakland
August 31, 1980 Cincinnati @ Pittsburgh
September 7, 1980 Oakland @ Baltimore
California @ New York Yankees
September 14, 1980 Montreal @ Pittsburgh
Los Angeles @ Cincinnati
September 21, 1980 Houston @ San Francisco
Cincinnati @ Los Angeles
September 28, 1980 Montreal @ Philadelphia
St. Louis @ Houston
October 5, 1980 Philadelphia @ Montreal
Houston @ Los Angeles
June 1, 1981 New York Yankees @ Cleveland
St. Louis @ Montreal
June 8, 1981 New York Yankees @ Kansas City
Los Angeles @ St. Louis
August 10, 1981 Cincinnati @ Los Angeles
St. Louis @ Philadelphia
August 16, 1981 Baltimore @ Chicago White Sox
St. Louis @ Montreal
August 23, 1981 Los Angeles @ St. Louis
New York Yankees @ Kansas City
September 6, 1981 Cincinnati @ Philadelphia
Oakland @ Baltimore
September 13, 1981 Boston @ New York Yankees
Los Angeles @ Cincinnati
September 20, 1981 Oakland @ Chicago White Sox
Cincinnati @ Los Angeles
September 27, 1981 Milwaukee @ Detroit
October 4, 1981 Detroit @ Milwaukee
June 7, 1982 Oakland @ Chicago White Sox
June 14, 1982 New York Mets @ Pittsburgh
June 21, 1982 Detroit @ Boston
June 28, 1982 St. Louis @ Philadelphia
July 5, 1982 Milwaukee @ Chicago White Sox
July 19, 1982 California @ Baltimore
July 26, 1982 Toronto @ Boston
Chicago White Sox @ Baltimore
August 2, 1982 Montreal @ Philadelphia
Pittsburgh @ St. Louis
August 9, 1982 New York Yankees @ Detroit
Cincinnati @ Los Angeles
August 16, 1982 California @ Oakland
Baltimore @ Boston
August 23, 1982 Philadelphia @ Atlanta
October 3, 1982 Milwaukee @ Baltimore[10]

1983-1989 television package

On April 7, 1983, Major League Baseball, ABC, and NBC agreed to terms of a six year television package worth $1.2 billion. The two networks would continue to alternate coverage of the playoffs (ABC in even numbered years and NBC in odd numbered years), World Series (ABC would televise the World Series in odd numbered years and NBC in even numbered years), and All-Star Game (ABC would televise the All-Star Game in even numbered years and NBC in odd numbered years) through the 1989 season, with each of the 26 clubs receiving $7 million per year in return (even if no fans showed up). The last package gave each club $1.9 million per year. ABC contributed $575 million for regular season prime time and Sunday afternoons and NBC paid $550 million for thirty Saturday afternoon games.

Breakdown
  • 1983[11] - $20 million in advance from the two networks.
  • 1984[12] - NBC $70 million, ABC $56 million, total $126 million.
  • 1985[13] - NBC $61 million, ABC $75 million, total $136 million.

Note: The networks got $9 million when Major League Baseball expanded the League Championship Series from a best-of-five to a best-of-seven in 1985.

  • 1986[14] - NBC $75 million, ABC $66 million, total $141 million.
  • 1987[15] - NBC $81 million, ABC $90 million, total $171 million.
  • 1988[16] - NBC $90 million, ABC $96 million, total $186 million.
  • 1989[17] - NBC $106 million, ABC $125 million, total $231 million.

On June 6, 1983, Al Michaels[18] officially succeeded Keith Jackson as the lead play-by-play announcer for Monday Night Baseball. Michaels, who spent seven seasons working backup games, was apparently very miffed over ABC Sports taking their sweet time with making him their top baseball announcer. Unlike Jackson, whose forte was college football, Michaels had gigs with the Cincinnati Reds and San Francisco Giants before joining ABC in 1976. TV Guide huffed about Jackson by saying "A football guy, on baseball!"

Jackson was unavailable for several World Series games in 1979 and 1981 because of conflicts with his otherwise normal college football broadcasting schedule. Thus, Michaels would do play-by-play for games on weekends.

In 1985, ABC announced that every game of the World Series would be played under the lights for the biggest baseball audience possible. Just prior to the start of the 1985 World Series, ABC removed Howard Cosell from scheduled announcing duties as punishment for his controversial book I Never Played the Game. In Cosell's place came Tim McCarver (joining play-by-play man Michaels and fellow color commentator Jim Palmer), who was beginning his trek of being a part of numerous World Series telecasts. Prior to joining Michaels and Palmer in the booth, McCarver's most notable assignment for ABC Sports was working as a field reporter during the 1984 National League Championship Series (with Don Drysdale, Earl Weaver, and Reggie Jackson in the booth).

Reportedly, by 1985, Cosell was considered to be difficult to work with on baseball telecasts. Apparently, Cosell and Michaels got into a fairly heated argument following the conclusion of their coverage of the 1984 American League Championship Series due to Cosell's supposed drunkenness among other problems. Rumor has it that Michaels went as far as to urged ABC executives to remove Cosell from the booth. Ultimately, Michaels went public with his problems with Cosell. Michaels claimed that "Howard had become a cruel, evil, vicious person."

By 1986, ABC only televised 13 Monday Night Baseball games[19]. This was a fairly sharp contrast to the 18 games to that were scheduled in 1978. The Sporting News believed that ABC paid Major League Baseball to not make them televise the regular season. TSN added that the network only wanted the sport for October anyway. Going into 1987, ABC had reportedly purchased 20 Monday night games but only used eight of those slots. More to the point, CBS Sports president Neil Pilson said "Three years ago, we believed ABC's package was overpriced by $175 million. We still believe it's overpriced by $175 million."[20]

1983-1988 schedules
Date Teams Announcers
June 6, 1983 California @ Milwaukee
June 13, 1983 Philadelphia @ St. Louis
June 20, 1983 New York Yankees @ Baltimore
June 27, 1983 Baltimore @ New York Yankees
July 4, 1983 Kansas City @ California
July 11, 1983 St. Louis @ Los Angeles
July 18, 1983 Kansas City @ Toronto
July 25, 1983 New York Yankees @ Texas
Baltimore @ California
August 1, 1983 New York Yankees @ Chicago White Sox
August 8, 1983 Pittsburgh @ Philadelphia
August 15, 1983 Boston @ Milwaukee
August 22, 1983 Chicago White Sox @ Kansas City
June 4, 1984 Toronto @ Detroit
June 11, 1984 Detroit @ Toronto
June 18, 1984 New York Yankees @ Detroit
June 25, 1984 New York Mets @ Philadelphia
July 2, 1984 Detroit @ Chicago White Sox
July 23, 1984 Chicago Cubs @ Philadelphia
June 3, 1985 New York Mets @ Los Angeles
June 10, 1985 New York Yankees @ Toronto
June 17, 1985 Chicago Cubs@ New York Mets
June 24, 1985 Baltimore @ New York Yankees
July 1, 1985 Cincinnati @ Los Angeles
July 8, 1985 New York Mets @ Cincinnati
Milwaukee @ California

Don Drysdale and Tim McCarver
July 22, 1985 New York Yankees @ Kansas City
July 29, 1985 New York Mets @ Montreal
April 27, 1986 New York Mets @ St. Louis[21]
June 1, 1986 San Francisco Giants @ New York Mets[22]
June 30, 1986 New York Mets @ St. Louis
July 7, 1986 New York Yankees @ Texas
Oakland @ Boston[23]
July 14, 1986 New York Mets @ Cincinnati
July 28, 1986 Boston @ Chicago White Sox
August 4, 1986 Chicago White Sox @ Boston
August 11, 1986 Los Angeles @ Houston
August 18, 1986 New York Mets @ Los Angeles
August 25, 1986 California @ New York Yankees
June 1, 1987 California @ New York Yankees
San Francisco @ Cincinnati
June 8, 1987 Toronto @ New York Yankees
June 15, 1987 New York Mets @ Montreal
June 22, 1987 Montreal @ St. Louis
June 29, 1987 St. Louis @ New York Mets
July 6, 1987 Minnesota @ New York Yankees
July 20, 1987 New York Yankees @ Minnesota
July 27, 1987 San Francisco @ Los Angeles
October 4, 1987 Toronto @ Detroit[24] Al Michaels, Jim Palmer and Tim McCarver
May 30, 1988 New York Yankees at Oakland
June 6, 1988 Boston @ New York Yankees
June 13, 1988 St. Louis @ New York Mets
New York Yankees @ Boston

Gary Bender and Joe Morgan
June 20, 1988 New York Yankees @ Detroit
June 27, 1988 New York Mets @ Pittsburgh
July 4, 1988 Cincinnati @ New York Mets
July 18, 1988 Texas @ New York Yankees
July 25, 1988 New York Mets @ Philadelphia
Los Angeles @ San Francisco
August 1, 1988 Pittsburgh @ New York Mets
Houston @ San Francisco

1987 World Series scheduling conflicts

There have been a few occasions when two Monday Night Football games were played simultaneously. In 1987, a scheduling conflict arose when Major League Baseball's Minnesota Twins went to Game 7 of the World Series (which also aired on ABC[25]), making the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome unavailable for the Minnesota Vikings' scheduled game (against the Denver Broncos) that Sunday.

1989

In 1989 (the final year of ABC's contract with Major League Baseball), ABC moved the baseball telecasts to Thursday nights in hopes of getting leg up against NBC's Cosby Show. After braving the traumatic Loma Prieta earthquake[26] and an all-time low 16.4 rating for the 1989 World Series Al Michaels took ABC's loss of baseball to CBS as "tough to accept." Michaels added that "baseball was such an early stepchild at ABC and had come such a long way." Gary Thorne, who served as ABC's backup play-by-play announcer in 1989 and was an on-field reporter for the World Series that year (and covering the trophy presentation in the process), simply laughed while saying "Great reviews, just as ABC baseball ends." Meanwhile, Dennis Swanson, president of ABC Sports, noted in a statement that baseball had been a blue-chip franchise since 1975 for the network, which was disappointed to lose it[27].

Schedule
Date Teams Announcers
June 8, 1989 New York Mets @ Chicago Cubs
June 15, 1989 Chicago Cubs @ New York Mets
June 22, 1989 Baltimore @ California
Toronto @ Oakland
June 29, 1989 Chicago Cubs @ San Francisco
July 6, 1989 Cincinnati @ New York Mets
Kansas City @ Oakland
July 13, 1989 Kansas City @ New York Yankees
July 20, 1989 San Francisco @ Chicago Cubs
July 27, 1989 Baltimore @ Minnesota

1990s

The Seattle Mariners celebrate their first ever trip to the American League Championship Series in 1995. The game was televised by ABC with Brent Musburger and Jim Kaat calling the action.

After a four year long hiatus (when CBS exclusively carried the Major League Baseball television rights), ABC returned to baseball in 1994[28].

Under a six year plan, Major League Baseball was intended to receive 85% of the first $140 million in advertising revenue (or 87.5% of advertising revenues and corporate sponsorship from the games until sales top a specified level), 50% of the next $30 million, and 80% of any additional money. Prior to this, Major League Baseball was projected to take a projected 55% cut in rights fees and receive a typical rights fee from the networks.

After NBC was finished with their post-1994 All-Star Game six week baseball coverage, ABC (with a reunited Al Michaels, Tim McCarver, and Jim Palmer as the primary crew) would then pick up where NBC left off by televising six more regular season games. Joinning the team of Michaels, McCarver, and Palmer was Lesley Visser, who served as the lead field reporter for the CBS' baseball coverage from 1990-1993.. Visser was reuniting with McCarver, for whom she had worked with on CBS. The regular season games fell under the Baseball Night in America umbrella which premiered on July 16, 1994. On the subject of play-by-play man Al Michaels returning to baseball for the first time since the infamous 1989 World Series, Jim Palmer said "Here Al is, having done five games since 1989 and steps right in. It's hard to comprehend how one guy could so amaze."

In even numbered years, NBC would have the rights to the All-Star Game and both League Championship Series while ABC would have the World Series and newly created Division Series. In odd numbered years the postseason and All-Star Game television rights were supposed to alternate.

ABC won the rights to the first dibs at the World Series in August 1993 after ABC Sports president Dennis Swanson won a coin toss by calling "heads." Ken Schanzer, who was the CEO of The Baseball Network, handled the coin toss. Schanzer agreed to the coin toss by ABC and NBC at the outset as the means of determining the order in which they'd divvy up the playoffs.

The long term plans for The Baseball Network crumbled when the players went on strike on August 12, 1994 (thus forcing the cancellation of the World Series). In July 1995, ABC and NBC, who wound up having to share the duties of televising the 1995 World Series as a way to recoup (with ABC broadcasting Games 1, 4, and 5 and NBC broadcasting Games 2, 3, and 6), announced that they were opting out of their agreement with Major League Baseball. Both networks figured that as the delayed 1995[29] baseball season opened without a labor agreement, there was no guarantee against another strike. Both networks soon publicly vowed to cut all ties with Major League Baseball for the remainder of the 20th century.

ABC Sports president Dennis Swanson, in announcing the dissolution of The Baseball Network, said:

The fact of the matter is, Major League Baseball seems incapable at this point in time, of living with any longterm relationships, whether it's with fans, with players, with the political community in Washington, with the advertising community here in Manhattan, or with its TV partners.

The network's final Major League Baseball game to date was Game 5 of the 1995 World Series (October 26). Calling the final out of the game, Al Michaels yelled, "Back to Georgia!" as the Cleveland Indians took Game 5. As previously mentioned, ABC itself has not shown a Major League Baseball game since.

In relation to ESPN Major League Baseball

Sister network ESPN (under the Walt Disney Company umbrella), which took over ABC Sports operations in 2006 under the name "ESPN on ABC", continues to show MLB contests (beginning in 1990), but it is contractually prohibited from transferring any games to ABC, even if it wanted to, as Fox holds exclusive terrestrial television rights in the U.S. until 2013. Several ABC baseball alumni such as Joe Morgan and Gary Thorne have regularly worked on ESPN's baseball broadcasts. In a way, ESPN's Major League Baseball coverage could be regarded as an in-direct ancestor of ABC's Major League Baseball coverage.

External links

References

  1. ^ The New York Times - 1960
  2. ^ The New York Times - 1965
  3. ^ 1965 ABC Baseball games
  4. ^ [http://the506.com/yabb/YaBB.pl?num=1226437100/0#6 1965 ABC Baseball games]
  5. ^ The New York Times - 1976
  6. ^ The New York Times - 1979
  7. ^ http://www.dbsforums.com/vbulletin/showpost.php?p=4582625&postcount=80
  8. ^ The New York Times - 1978
  9. ^ The New York Times - 1981
  10. ^ Milwaukee at Baltimore � AL East at stake on the season�s final day; Sutton vs. Jim Palmer (ABC/good)
  11. ^ The New York Times - 1983
  12. ^ The New York Times - 1984
  13. ^ The New York Times - 1985
  14. ^ The New York Times - 1986
  15. ^ The New York Times - 1987
  16. ^ The New York Times - 1988
  17. ^ The New York Times - 1989
  18. ^ "I started my career and did a ton of baseball early on and when I stopped doing it I missed the hell out of it. We stopped in ‘89 and we got back into it in the mid ‘90s with the Baseball Network and they shared the World Series with at that time Bob Costas on NBC. We went back and forth from NBC to ABC and that’s the last time I did baseball. So I don’t miss it nearly as much as I did at that point, I’ve learned to live without it obviously."
  19. ^ There were two surprises in yesterday's announcement, but the bottom line was not one of them. One surprise was the small number of weekly games involved. For the last 13 years, NBC has televised as many as 32 games every season, usually on Saturday afternoons and sometimes on Sunday, and ABC has done eight Monday night games a season.
  20. ^ TV SPORTS; QUIET TALKS FOR BASEBALL
  21. ^ N.Y. Mets at St. Louis � The next day, Tim Teufel's two-run HR provides Mets with 5-3 win (ABC; WOR/very good)
  22. ^ San Francisco at N.Y. Mets � Dan Gladden goes 3-for-4 with two RBI in Giants' victory (ABC/excellent)
  23. ^ Oakland at Boston � Tony La Russa's first game as A's manager; Dave Stewart vs. Roger Clemens (ABC/very good) ]
  24. ^ Toronto at Detroit � On final day of year, Frank Tanana pitches Tigers to AL East title (WDIV/excellent or ABC/good)
  25. ^ Producer Curt Gowdy Jr. and a top trio at the mikes gave ABC its best World Series yet
  26. ^ "we're Having An..."
  27. ^ A Billion-Dollar Bid By CBS Wins Rights To Baseball Games
  28. ^ The New York Times - 1994
  29. ^ The New York Times - 1995

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