Major League Baseball on CBS: Wikis


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Major League Baseball on CBS
Format Sports
Created by CBS Sports
Starring Sean McDonough
Jack Buck
Tim McCarver
Jim Kaat
Dick Stockton
Greg Gumbel
Pat O'Brien
Jim Gray
Andrea Joyce
Lesley Visser
Country of origin  United States
No. of episodes 118 regular season broadcasts (approximate number)[1][2]
Running time 180 minutes or until game ends
Original channel CBS
Original run April 14, 1990 – October 23, 1993
External links
Official website

Major League Baseball on CBS is the name of the former TV show that televised Major League Baseball games on the American television network CBS (legally known as the Columbia Broadcasting System from 1928 to 1974). Produced by CBS Sports, there have been several variations of the program dating back to the 1950s. The most notable version existed from 1990 to 1993.


August 11, 1951

On August 11, 1951, WCBS-TV in New York (CBS' flagship station) broadcast the first baseball game on color television. It was the Brooklyn Dodgers vs. Boston Braves from Ebbets Field. The Braves beat the Dodgers 8–1.

Original Major League Baseball on CBS program



By 1955[3], Dizzy Dean and the Game of the Week would move from ABC to CBS. "CBS' stakes were higher" said Buddy Blattner, who left Mutual to rejoin Dean. Ron Powers wrote about the reteaming of Dean and Blattner "They wanted someone who'd known Diz, could bring him out."

In 1957[4], CBS added a Sunday Game of the Week. ABC's Edgar Scherick said "In '53, no one wanted us. Now teams begged for "Game"'s cash." That year, the NFL began a $14.1 million revenue-sharing pact. By 1965[5], Major League Baseball ended the big-city blackout, got $6.5 million for exclusivity, and split the pot.

With CBS now carrying the Game of the Week, outlets in Phoenix, Little Rock, and Cedar Rapids were finally receiving the Game of the Week. Bud Blattner said "America had never had TV network ball. Now you're getting two games a week [four, counting NBC, by 1959]."


Jack Whitaker and Frankie Frisch did the backup games from 1959 to 1961. They usually did games that took place in Philadelphia, New York, Washington, D.C., or Baltimore. Whitaker once said in three years, he would only broadcast three innings because CBS wouldn't switch away from Dizzy Dean. However, he said that he learned a lot of baseball just sitting next to Frisch. CBS had other backup crews for games featuring the Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Indians, and Cincinnati Reds. In these cases, Bob Finnegan would handle the play-by-play duties with various analysts depending on the city. CBS did not have Game of the Week rights from any other ballparks in those years.

Pee Wee Reese replaced Blattner as Dean's partner in 1960.


By 1964[6], CBS' Dean and Reese called games from Yankee Stadium, Wrigley Field, St. Louis, Philadelphia, and Baltimore. New York got $550,000 of CBS' $895,000. Six clubs that exclusively played nationally televised games on NBC got $1.2 million.

In 1966, the New York Yankees, who in the year prior played 21 Games of the Week for CBS, joined NBC's television package. The new package under NBC called for 28 games compared to 1960's three-network 123.


1990–1993 version

On December 14, 1988[7][8], CBS (under the guidance of Commissioner Peter Ueberroth[9], Major League Baseball's broadcast director Bryan Burns[10], CBS Inc. CEO Laurence Tisch as well as CBS Sports executives Neil Pilson and Eddie Einhorn) paid approximately $1.8 billion[11] for exclusive over-the-air television rights[12] for over four years (beginning in 1990). CBS paid about $265 million each year for the World Series, League Championship Series, All-Star Game, and the Saturday Game of the Week. It was one of the largest agreements (to date) between the sport of baseball and the business of broadcasting.

The deal with CBS was also intended to pay each team (26 in 1990 and then, 28 by 1993) $10 million a year. They also would be paying an estimated $7.1 million per game or $790,000 per inning, and $132,000 per out.

A separate deal with cable TV would bring each team an additional $4 million. Each team could also cut its own deal with local TV. For example, the New York Yankees signed with a cable network (MSG[13]) that would pay the team $41 million annually for 12 years. Radio broadcast rights can bring in additional money. Reportedly, after the huge TV contracts with CBS and ESPN were signed, ballclubs spent their excess millions on free agents[14].

Before the previous television contract (19841989[15]) with Major League Baseball was signed[16], CBS was at one point, interested in a pact which would have called for three interleague games every Thursday night (only). The proposed deal with CBS involved the American League East teams playing the National League East and the American League West playing the National League West respectively.


A trademark of CBS' baseball coverage was its majestic, uplifting, and harmonious theme music[17] (which was composed by Bob Christianson[18] and Tony Smythe). Besides the prologues (with the play-by-play man previewing the upcoming match up) for the Saturday Game of the Week, the music was usually set to the opening graphic of an opaque rendition of the CBS Eye entering a big, waving red, white, and blue bunting and then a smaller, unfolding red, white, and blue bunting (over a white diamond) and floating blue banner (which usually featured an indicating year like "1991 World Series" for instance) complete with dark red Old English text. Pat O'Brien anchored the World Series and All-Star Game telecasts while usually delivering the prologue (normally set against the live scenery over the theme music). Though O'Brien would be joined by his co-host Andrea Joyce during the 1993 World Series and 1993 MLB All-Star Game.

A recurring theme during CBS' coverage of the postseason was the usage of Michael Kamen's "Overture" from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. From start to finish, an audio montage of baseball's most memorable moments played on top, followed by a video and music only (no narration) recap of both League Championship Series and the World Series from 1991 to 1993. The "Training" cue from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves was played against an all slow-motion montage of the entire series. As Tim McCarver recapped the first six games of the 1991 World Series before Game 7, CBS used Hans Zimmer's "Fighting 17th" from the movie Backdraft for the soundtrack. During the 1993 All-Star Game and postseason, highlights of past All-Star Games and postseason moments were scored using the John Williams composed theme from the movie Jurassic Park. Also during the commercial breaks of the 1993 All-Star Game, CBS provided a snippet of Don Henley's "The Boys of Summer". During the prologue for Game 1 of the 1993 World Series, CBS used Hans Zimmer's "The Walk Home" from the movie Cool Runnings.

CBS' slogan for their regular season, Game of the Week broadcasts was "Baseball's biggest moments are on CBS!"



Major League Baseball's four-season tenure with CBS (19901993) was marred by turmoil and shortcomings throughout. For starters, Brent Musburger, who was originally slated to be the primary play-by-play announcer for baseball telecasts (thus, having the tasks of calling the All-Star Game, National League Championship Series, and World Series) was fired by CBS on April 1, 1990.

Jack Buck was bumped to the top play-by-play spot with just weeks before CBS' first baseball telecast. With Buck now the lead play-by-play man (with ABC baseball alumnus Tim McCarver as his partner), his original back-up spot was filled in by CBS' top NBA announcer Dick Stockton (with Jim Kaat as Stockton's partner). Studio host Greg Gumbel took over for Stockton as the number two play-by-play man in 1993. Gumbel was in return, replaced by Andrea Joyce, who served as a field reporter for the first three seasons of CBS' coverage. On the teaming of Buck and McCarver, Broadcasting magazine wrote "The network has exclusivity, much rides on them."

Joining the team of Buck and McCarver was Lesley Visser (who is, incidentally, married to the aforementioned Dick Stockton), who became the first female MLB beat writer while she worked for the Boston Globe, when she covered the Boston Red Sox. During the CBS' coverage the 1990 World Series, Visser became the first woman to cover the World Series.

Meanwhile, Jim Kaat earned rave reviews for his role as CBS' backup analyst (which flashed a considerable "good-guy air"). Ron Bergman wrote of Kaat's performance during the 1990 ALCS "This was a night for pitchers to excel. Dave Stewart. Roger Clemens. Jim Kaat [on commentary]." Despite the rave reviews, Jim Kaat admitted that he was frustrated. He felt that at that point and time, the idea of figuring out what to talk about during a three-hour broadcast had become intimidating. As a result, Kaat would bring notes into the booth, but in the process, found himself providing too much detail. He ultimately confided in his broadcasting partner, Dick Stockton, that he wanted to work without notes. So Stockton hooked Kaat up with then-lead NFL on CBS color man, John Madden for a telephone seminar. Madden said if he brought notes into the booth he felt compelled to use them and would "force" something into a telecast. On his seminar with John Madden, Jim Kaat said "Then John told me if he did his homework it would be stored in his memory bank. And if it is important it will come out. If it doesn't, it probably wasn't that important."

A mildly notorious moment came during CBS' coverage of the 1990 All-Star Game from Wrigley Field in Chicago. In a game that was marred by rain delays for a combined 85 minutes (including a 68 minute monsoon during the 7th inning), CBS annoyed many diehard fans by airing the William Shatner hosted reality series Rescue 911 during the delay.

CBS' initially didn't want to start their 1990 coverage until after the NBA Finals (also on CBS). Therefore, only 12 regular season telecasts were scheduled[21] The broadcasts would've been each Saturday from June 16 through August 25 and a special Sunday telecast on the weekend of August 11-12 (the New York Yankees against the Oakland Athletics in Oakland on both days). Ultimately, four more telecasts were added - two in April and two on the last two Saturdays of the season.

Date Teams Announcers
April 14, 1990 Chicago Cubs @ Pittsburgh
Los Angeles @ Houston
April 21, 1990 Montreal @ New York Mets[22]
California @ Minnesota
June 16, 1990 Boston @ Baltimore
San Diego @ Los Angeles
June 23, 1990 St. Louis @ Chicago Cubs
San Francisco @ Houston
June 30, 1990 Oakland @ Toronto
July 7, 1990 Chicago Cubs @ San Francisco[23]
Minnesota @ New York Yankees
July 10, 1990 All-Star Game (Wrigley Field, Chicago) Jack Buck and Tim McCarver
July 14, 1990 Kansas City @ Boston
San Diego @ Pittsburgh
July 21, 1990 San Francisco @ Chicago Cubs
Philadelphia @ Cincinnati
July 28, 1990 St. Louis @ New York Mets
Baltimore @ Kansas City
August 4, 1990 Los Angeles @ San Francisco[24]
New York Mets @ St. Louis
August 11, 1990 New York Yankees @ Oakland
Texas @ Chicago White Sox
August 12, 1990 New York Yankees @ Oakland
August 18, 1990 California @ Boston
Kansas City @ Milwaukee
Dick Stockton and Jim Kaat
Jack Buck and Tim McCarver
August 25, 1990 New York Mets @ Los Angeles
Boston @ Toronto
September 22, 1990 St. Louis @ Pittsburgh
September 29, 1990 Wild Card


After sustaining huge losses from 1990's abbreviated postseason (which ended with the Cincinnati Reds shockingly sweeping the defending World Champion Oakland Athletics in the World Series), CBS made several notable adjustments for 1991. Regular season telecasts had been reduced to a meager handful. In return, pregame shows during the League Championship Series were entirely eliminated, to minimize the ratings damage. The 1991 season was perhaps most noteworthy for CBS having the opportunity of covering of the now legendary World Series between the Minnesota Twins and Atlanta Braves.

Earlier in the postseason, CBS' coverage of the ALCS meant that they could not carry the live testimony of Clarence Thomas, whose confirmation to the United States Supreme Court was put into question because of charges of sexual harassment from former staffer Anita Hill. Meanwhile, ABC, NBC, CNN and PBS all carried the testimony.

As CBS' baseball coverage progressed, they dropped the 8:00 p.m. pregame coverage[27] (in favor of sitcoms such as Evening Shade), before finally starting their coverage at 8:30 p.m. Eastern Time. The first pitch would generally arrive at approximately 8:45 p.m. Perhaps as a result, Joe Carter's World Series clinching home run[28] off Mitch Williams in 1993, occurred at 12:00 a.m. on the East Coast.

Date Teams Announcers
April 20, 1991 New York Mets @ Montreal
Detroit @ Chicago White Sox
April 27, 1991 Chicago Cubs @ Cincinnati
Seattle @ Minnesota
May 5, 1991 Boston @ Chicago White Sox
Cleveland @ Oakland
May 18, 1991 New York Mets @ Los Angeles
May 25, 1991 Los Angeles @ Cincinnati
Cleveland @ Milwaukee
June 15, 1991 Chicago Cubs @ San Diego
June 22, 1991 Pittsburgh @ Los Angeles
June 29, 1991 St. Louis @ Chicago Cubs
Boston @ Baltimore
July 9, 1991 All-Star Game (SkyDome, Toronto) Jack Buck and Tim McCarver
July 14, 1991 Baltimore @ Oakland
July 20, 1991 Los Angeles @ New York Mets
Detroit @ Kansas City
Jack Buck and Tim McCarver
Dick Stockton and Jim Kaat
August 3, 1991 Toronto @ Boston
Pittsburgh @ St. Louis
August 24, 1991 Cincinnati @ New York Mets
Minnesota @ Baltimore
September 14, 1991 Chicago White Sox @ California (dropped)
Los Angeles @ Atlanta
Oakland @ Toronto
September 21, 1991 San Francisco @ San Diego
New York Yankees @ Boston
September 28, 1991
October 5, 1991 Houston @ Atlanta[29]
Los Angeles @ San Francisco
Dick Stockton and Jim Kaat
Jack Buck and Tim McCarver

Sean McDonough replaces Jack Buck

After two years of calling baseball telecasts for CBS, Jack Buck was dismissed in December 1991. According to the radio veteran Buck, he had a hard time adjusting to the demands of a more constricting television production. CBS felt that Buck should've done more to make himself appear to be a set-up man for lead analyst Tim McCarver[30]. Jack Buck's son Joe tried to rationalize his father's on-air problems by saying "My dad was brought up in the golden age of radio, I think he had his hands tied somewhat, being accustomed to the freedom of radio. I'm more used to acquiescing to what the producer wants to do, what the director wants to do."

Jack Buck himself sized up CBS' handling of the announcers by saying "CBS never got that baseball play-by-play draws word-pictures. All they knew was that football stars analysts. So they said, 'Let [analyst Tim] McCarver run the show.' In television, all they want you to do is shut up. I'm not very good at shutting up." Buck though, would add that although he knew Tim McCarver well, they never developed a good relationship with each other on the air despite high hopes to the contrary. Phil Mushnick added insult to injury to Buck by accusing him of "Trying to predict plays, as if to prove he was still on top."

My biggest problem was understanding my role. They wanted him to dominate the broadcast and have me be the mechanic and stay out of the way. I didn't want to broadcast that way. I guess I should have accepted it, but relying on my experience on GrandStand (NBC's NFL pregame show that Buck hosted in 1975) when I had not challenged anyone, I couldn't let others make all the decisions that put me in a position where I couldn't perform at all. — Jack Buck in his autobiography That's a Winner.

Jack Buck got into deep trouble with CBS executives (namely, executive producer Ted Shaker, who approached Buck in the hotel lobby to tell him that he was in trouble) over questionable comments made towards singer Bobby Vinton. While on air prior to Game 4 of the 1990 National League Championship Series in Pittsburgh, Buck criticized Vinton's off-key rendition of the "Star-Spangled Banner". Buck got into trouble because his pot-shot towards Vinton sounded like a prejudicial remark centered on Vinton's Polish heritage. Joe Buck believed that the Bobby Vinton situation was ironic because his father was "trying to help the guy." Legend has it, that Buck soon received death threats from Pirate fans and discovered a footprint on his pillow once he returned to his hotel room.


Jack Buck was soon replaced by Boston Red Sox announcer Sean McDonough. Ted Shaker called McDonough about his interests for the top announcing job. After McDonough hung up the telephone, he claimed that he didn't want to act like a 10 year old, but he jumped so high that he put a hole in his ceiling. In 1992, McDonough at 30 years of age, became the youngest man to call all nine innings of national broadcast of a World Series, while working as a full-time network employee. As McDonough would join the team of Tim McCarver and Lesley Visser.

Also in 1992, McCarver ran afoul of Atlanta Braves outfielder Deion Sanders while in the Braves' clubhouse following Game 7 of the NLCS. Sanders dumped a bucket of ice water on McCarver (who was wired for sound and feared electrocution) as retaliation for McCarver's on-air comments that criticized Sanders' life as a two-sport athlete (the other sport being as a member of the Atlanta Falcons of the NFL).

Speaking of McCarver, during the 1992 postseason, Norman Chad criticized McCarver in Sports Illustrated by saying that he's someone who 'when you ask him the time, will tell you how a watch works.' Chad's critique of McCarver was a reference to McCarver's supposed habit of overanalyzing. Chad went further by saying "What's the difference between Tim McCarver and appendicitis? Appendicitis is covered by most health plans."

McCarver was also known to make many gaffes from time to time. One of his more amusing miscues came during the 1992 National League Championship Series when he repeatedly referred to Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Tim Wakefield as "Bill Wakefield." He finally explained that Bill Wakefield was one of his old minor-league teammates, and he laughed at himself because "I forgot my own name!"'

During the 1992 postseason, CBS missed covering one of the three debates among U.S. presidential candidates George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and H. Ross Perot. The network had planned to join other broadcast and cable networks in the telecast; however, Game 4 of the ALCS between the Toronto Blue Jays and Oakland Athletics did not end until 8:30 p.m. Eastern Time, about the time the debate ended. The Blue Jays won the game 7-6 in 11 innings. The other networks reported very good ratings for the debate, part of one of the more compelling election campaigns in recent times.

Date Teams Announcers
April 18, 1992 Chicago Cubs @ St. Louis
Detroit @ Baltimore
Oakland @ Texas (1 PM)
April 25, 1992 Oakland @ Minnesota (1 PM)
May 2, 1992 New York Mets @ Atlanta
Texas @ Chicago White Sox (1 PM)
June 13, 1992 Boston @ Toronto
Los Angeles @ Cincinnati
Chicago White Sox @ Minnesota (1 PM)
June 20, 1992 Oakland @ California
Los Angeles @ Houston
San Diego @ San Francisco (3 PM)
June 27, 1992 New York Mets @ St. Louis
Atlanta @ Cincinnati
Milwaukee @ Boston (1 PM)
July 4, 1992 Chicago Cubs @ Atlanta
Cincinnati @ Pittsburgh
Milwaukee @ Kansas City (1 PM)
July 11, 1992 St. Louis @ Los Angeles
Philadelphia @ San Diego
Montreal @ San Francisco (3 PM)
July 14 All-Star Game (Jack Murphy Stadium, San Diego) (8 PM) Sean McDonough and Tim McCarver
July 18, 1992 Boston @ Minnesota (dropped)
Atlanta @ Houston (dropped)
Texas @ Baltimore (1 PM)

Sean McDonough and Tim McCarver
July 25, 1992 Minnesota @ Boston
Texas @ Baltimore
Detroit @ California (3 PM)
August 1, 1992 New York Yankees @ Toronto
St. Louis @ Pittsburgh
Oakland @ Kansas City (1 PM)
August 8, 1992 Los Angeles @ Atlanta
New York Mets @ Chicago Cubs (1 PM)
August 29, 1992 Cincinnati @ New York Mets
San Francisco @ Chicago Cubs (dropped)
Kansas City @ Detroit (dropped)
Milwaukee @ Toronto (1 PM)
September 19, 1992 Boston @ Detroit
Los Angeles @ San Francisco
St. Louis @ Chicago Cubs (3 PM)
September 26, 1992 Oakland Athletics @ Milwaukee[33]
October 3, 1992
Note: All times eastern


Visser missed the first half of the 1993 season because she suffered a bizarre jogging accident in New York's Central Park. Visser broke her hip and skidded face-first across the pavement. She required reconstructive plastic surgery on her face and more than a decade later required an artificial hip replacement. She returned to CBS Sports in July 1993 to cover the Major League Baseball All-Star Game as a pre-game analyst instead of a field reporter due to the bizarre jogging accident. So in Visser's place, came Jim Kaat while she recoperated. She ultimately, returned to the baseball world in late August 1993.

As previously mentioned, also during the 1993 season, Andrea Joyce replaced Greg Gumbel (who in return, replaced Dick Stockton as the #2 play-by-play man) as studio host. Joyce would be joined at the anchor desk by Pat O'Brien. At the 1993 World Series, she became the first woman to co-host the network television coverage for a World Series.

During CBS' coverage of the 1993 World Series, umpires were upset with the overhead replays being televised by CBS. Dave Phillips, the crew chief, said just prior to Game 2 that the umpires want "CBS to be fair with their approach." Rick Gentile, the senior vice president for production of CBS Sports, said that Richie Phillips, the lawyer for the Major League Umpires Association, tried to call the broadcast booth during Saturday's game, but the call was not put through. Richie Phillips apparently was upset when Dave Phillips called the Philadelphia Phillies' Ricky Jordan out on strikes in the fourth inning, and a replay showed the pitch to be about 6 inches outside. National League President Bill White, while using a CBS headset in the broadcast booth during Game 1, was overheard telling Gentile and the producer Bob Dekas:

You guys keep using that camera the way you want. Don't let Phillips intimidate you.
Date Teams Announcers
April 17, 1993 New York Mets @ Cincinnati
April 24, 1993 Florida @ Colorado
Cincinnati Reds @ Chicago Cubs
Sean McDonough and Tim McCarver
Greg Gumbel and Jim Kaat
May 1, 1993 St. Louis @ Atlanta
May 8, 1993 Baltimore @ Toronto
May 15, 1993 Los Angeles @ Houston
May 22, 1993 New York Yankees @ Boston
California @ Texas
Sean McDonough and Tim McCarver
Greg Gumbel and Jim Kaat
May 29, 1993 San Francisco @ Atlanta
July 10, 1993 San Francisco @ Philadelphia
July 13, 1993 All-Star Game (Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore) Sean McDonough and Tim McCarver
July 17, 1993 Oakland @ New York Yankees
July 24, 1993 Philadelphia @ San Francisco[36]
July 31, 1993 Detroit @ Toronto
August 7, 1993 Boston @ Detroit
August 28, 1993 Chicago Cubs @ Atlanta
September 18 Boston @ New York Yankees
New York Mets @ Atlanta
September 25 Atlanta @ Philadelphia
October 2, 1993 San Francisco @ Los Angeles[37]

Reasons for CBS losing so much money may include

In the end, CBS wound up losing approximately half a billion dollars from their television contract with Major League Baseball. CBS repeatedly asked Major League Baseball for a rebate[38][39], but Major League Baseball wasn't willing to do this. According to Curt Smith's book The Voice - Mel Allen's Untold Story, one CBS executive wore a St. Louis Cardinals cap at a 1988 Christmas party. However, by 1992, pining to shed baseball, that same executive wore a cap styled "One More Year."

  • CBS alienated and confused fans with their sporadic treatment of regular season telecasts[40]. With a sense of true continuity destroyed, fans eventually figured that they couldn't count on CBS to satisfy their needs (thus poor ratings were a result). CBS televised about 16 regular season Saturday afternoon games (not counting back-up telecasts) which was 14 less than what NBC televised during the previous contract. According to Commissioner Peter Ueberroth, the reason for the cut back in regular season telecasts was in order for teams to sell them locally in order to make a direct profit[41]. CBS used the strategy of broadcasting only a select amount of games in order to build a demand in response to supposedly sagging ratings. In response to this, NBC Sports chairman Dick Ebersol grinned "I assume [its] baseball strategy has to be a big disappointment." Counting the All-Star Game, both League Championship Series, and the World Series, CBS would've televised just 38 games. This comes on the account of both League Championship Series and the World Series going to a full seven games. In their first year in 1990, CBS Sports had a pretty loaded schedule (much came at the expense of the regular season baseball coverage): the NBA Playoffs (the 1989–90 season marked CBS' final year with the NBA before the over-the-air package moved over to NBC), College World Series, and college football (like the NBA, CBS would lose the CFA package soon after winning the Major League Baseball contract). CBS never scheduled baseball on Masters weekend, and seldom on other weekends when they had a PGA Tour event. It was around this time that CBS started expanding their weekend coverage from two hours to three on weekends when there was no baseball, generally from 3 to 6 p.m. ET. Most of their baseball dates landed on weeks when other networks covered golf.

Marv Albert, who hosted NBC's baseball pregame show for many years said about CBS' baseball coverage "You wouldn't see a game for a month. Then you didn't know when CBS came back on." Sports Illustrated joked that CBS stood for Covers Baseball Sporadically. USA Today added that Jack Buck and Tim McCarver "may have to have a reunion before [their] telecast." Mike Lupica of the New York Daily News took it a step further by calling CBS' baseball deal "The Vietnam of sports television."

NBC play-by-play man Bob Costas believed that a large bulk of the regular season coverage beginning in the 1990s to cable (namely, ESPN) because CBS, the network that was taking over from NBC the television rights beginning in 1990 didn't really want the Saturday Game of the Week. Many fans who didn't appreciate CBS' approach to scheduling regular season baseball games[42] believed that they were only truly after the marquee events (i.e. All-Star Game, League Championship Series, and the World Series) in order to sell advertising space (especially the fall entertainment television schedule[43][44][45]).

  • The Toronto Blue Jays were in back-to-back World Series from 1992 to 1993. CBS' telecasts were simulcast on CTV in Canada, and got very high ratings north of the border. Unfortunately, Canada does not factor in the Nielsen Ratings so as a consequence, CBS got the lowest ratings[46] in over 20 years for a World Series (not counting the earthquake interrupted 1989 World Series that was televised by ABC). In any other World Series, viewership would be higher since two American teams would be involved, to say nothing of spikes to off-the-chart ratings shares in the two competing cities (especially in 1991 when CBS was fortunate to cover the riveting, ultra intense, seven-game battle between the Minnesota Twins and Atlanta Braves). Another reasoning behind the poor ratings likely has to do with the gradual attrition of the audience for almost all network programming.
  • CBS couldn't properly maximize the deal because the Division Series wasn't created yet (thus automatically giving CBS more games to carry) and they didn't have a cable outlet like Fox's Fox Sports Net. In reality, they were competing with ESPN and local broadcasts outside of CBS' broadcast window. More postseason games could've increased the advertising inventory[48]. It should be noted that both ABC and NBC lost money on their in-season games the last three years they carried baseball (19871989).
  • CBS simply made way too high of a bid[49][50][51] (especially for a network that wound up frustrating fans with its lack of regular season coverage) and substained a shortfall in advertising revenue[52][53]. Perhaps it is somewhat ironic that back in 1987, CBS Sports president Neal Pilson said of ABC's then ongoing contract with Major League Baseball "Three years ago, we believed ABC's package was overpriced by $175 million. We still believe it's overpriced by $175 million."[54]

In 1991, it cost CBS $4.8 million per game in venue productions alone to show the National League Championship Series. This doesn't include studio backup operations or the satellite time needed to transmit the game to New York for broadcast on their network frequencies. The American League Championship Series (between the Minnesota Twins and Toronto Blue Jays) was another problem because of the tariffs and labor laws they had to endure going into Canada. CBS averaged $1.9–$2.4 million per regular season game. In return, it was typical for the production cost to double come playoff time.

The end of Major League Baseball on CBS

The final Major League Baseball game that CBS has televised to date, was Game 6 of the 1993 World Series on October 23. Before Major League Baseball decided to seek the services of other networks[55], CBS offered $120 million in annual rights fees over a two-year period, as well as advertising revenues in excess of $150 million a season.

In October 1995[56], when it was a known fact that ABC and NBC were going to end their television deal/joint venture with Major League Baseball, preliminary talks rose about CBS returning. It was rumored that CBS would show Thursday night games (more specifically, a package of West Coast interleague games scheduled for the 11:30 ET/8:30 PT slot) while Fox would show Saturday afternoon games. CBS and Fox were also rumored to share rights to the postseason. In the end however, CBS' involvement did not come to pass.

Miscellaneous quotes

Everyone at CBS who cared about baseball felt like they went through hell with it.
CBS Sports producer Ed Goren
The overall revenues of the game have more than doubled since the early 1990s. The problem isn't that the game has insufficient popularity or revenues, the problem is that the game has an imperfect economic system, which often renders any amount of revenue, in the long run, inadequate. You know, they get another source of revenue and they flush it right down the drain. Look what happened when NBC lost baseball in the late 1980s. CBS comes in with this enormous deal for baseball, so the revenues are exponentially increased, but they frittered it all away immediately when the salary structure just immediately exploded right after that. At that time the top paid player made about $2 million a year. Within a couple of years you had dozens and dozens of players making $5 million a year.


Memorable calls

If you're Polish and you're from Pittsburgh, you can do anything you want with the words.
Jack Buck in response to Bobby Vinton's less-than-perfect rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner" prior to Game 4 of the 1990 National League Championship Series.
Fly ball into deep, deep center field, McGee going's going to go!!! You would think they had just won the World Series!
Jack Buck calling Eric Davis' home run off Dave Stewart in Game 1 of the 1990 World Series.
That ball is...FAIR!!! Cincinnati's ahead two games to none!!!
Jack Buck calling Joe Oliver's game winning base hit in Game 2 of the 1990 World Series.
(Billy) Hatcher flies to right field and (José) Canseco can't get it! It's off his glove...Hatcher's gonna end up at third!
Jack Buck calling Billy Hatcher's seventh consecutive hit in the 1990 World Series.
Cincinnati, the champions of baseball for 1990...with an improbable sweep over Oakland!!!
Jack Buck calling the final out in Game 4 of the 1990 World Series.
Robby Thompson gets to it...In Atlanta let the celebration begin!!!
Jack Buck informing the viewers that the Atlanta Braves have clinched the 1991 Western Division title in the National League. This was ensured immediately after the Los Angeles Dodgers lost a game against the San Francisco Giants at Candlestick Park.
And the Minnesota Twins have gone from the cellar to the penthouse in the American League!
Dick Stockton calling the final out in Game 5 of the 1991 American League Championship Series.
And John Smoltz has pitched Atlanta into the World Series!
Jack Buck at the conclusion of Game 7 of the 1991 National League Championship Series.
That's going to be a winner for Atlanta!!! The runner tags at third, here's the throw from Mack, here's Lemke...he is, safe, safe!!! They called him safe! Atlanta wins and they're going to say that Harper did not tag him!
Jack Buck calling Jerry Willard's game winning sacrifice fly in Game 4 of the 1991 World Series.
Into deep left-center, for Mitchell...and we'll see you...TOMORROW NIGHT!
Jack Buck, announcing Minnesota Twins center fielder Kirby Puckett's game winning 11th inning walk-off home run in Game 6 of the 1991 World Series against Charlie Leibrandt.
The play is to home! Out there...out there!!!
Jack Buck calling Atlanta Brave Sid Bream hitting into a top of the 8th inning ending double play in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series.
Atlanta hasn't scored in ten innings against Jack Morris!
Jack Buck calling the end of the top of the 10th inning in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series.
The Twins are going to win the World Series!!! The Twins have won it! It's a base hit! It's a 1-0 10th inning victory!
Jack Buck calling Gene Larkin's game winning bloop single in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series.
Deep to left...and there goes Ron Gant's first ever grand slam!Sean McDonough calling Ron Gant's home run off Bob Walk in Game 2 of the 1992 National League Championship Series.
And a drive hit to right field, Sierra going back, looking up...and this game is tied, Roberto Alomar!
Dick Stockton calling Roberto Alomar's top of the 9th inning home run off Dennis Eckersley in Game 4 of the 1992 American League Championship Series.
High fly ball, toward the line in left, calling for it is Maldonado, and the Blue Jays have finally won the pennant!
Dick Stockton calling the final out in Game 6 of the 1992 American League Championship Series.
Line-drive and a base-hit!!! Justice has scored the tying run, Bream to the plate...and he's safe, safe at the plate!!! The Braves go to the World Series! The unlikeliest of heroes wins the National League Championship Series for the Atlanta Braves. Francisco Cabrera, who had only ten at-bats in the major leagues during the regular season, singled through the left side, scoring Sid Bream from second base with the winning run. Bream, who’s had five knee operations in his lifetime, just beat the tag from his ex-mate Mike LaValliere, and Atlanta pulls out Game 7 with three runs in the bottom of the ninth inning. This place is bedlam. There will be no second nightmare for Bobby Cox. The final score in Game 7 of the National League Championship Series: the Braves 3 and the Pirates 2.
Sean McDonough calling Francisco Cabrera's dramatic game winning base hit in Game 7 of the 1992 National League Championship Series.
Well hit to left field to the wall Deion Sanders, home run Ed Sprague! Off the bench with a pinch hit two run homer off Jeff Reardon to give the Toronto Blue Jays a 5-4 lead!
Sean McDonough during Game 4 of the 1992 World Series.
The runners go on the 3-and-2 to Winfield...down the line, a base hit into the left-field corner! One run is in, Alomar comes around...The ball gets away from Gant...It's a two-run double for Dave Winfield, and a 4-2 Toronto lead!
Sean McDonough calling Dave Winfield's 1992 World Series winning double.
Timlin...Nixon bunts, Timlin on it, throws to first...for the first time in history, the World Championship banner will fly north of the border! The Toronto Blue Jays are baseball's best in 1992!
Sean McDonough calling the final out of Game 6 of the 1992 World Series.
Fair ball, into the left field corner! Kruk around to score and Kim Batiste goes from goat to hero in a matter of minutes!
Sean McDonough calling Phillies infielder Kim Batiste's 10th-inninng game-winning single in Game 1 of the 1993 National League Championship Series. Batiste had committed a 9th-inning error to allow the Atlanta Braves to tie the score and force extra innings.
And the Philadelphia Phillies have won the National League pennant!
Sean McDonough calling the final out of Game 6 of the 1993 National League Championship Series.
Henderson to the plate with the go-ahead run!!!
Sean McDonough responding to the Toronto Blue Jays regaining the lead in what turned out to be a wild 15-14 contest in Game 4 of the 1993 World Series.
In Canada, when you say PM they think of Prime Minister, but now they might start thinking Paul Molitor!
Tim McCarver during Game 6 of the 1993 World Series.
Well-hit down the left-field line! Way back and gone! Joe Carter with a three-run homer! The winners and still world champions, the Toronto Blue Jays!
Sean McDonough calling Joe Carter's dramatic World Series home run off Mitch Williams.


  1. ^ CBS' 1990–1993 Major League Baseball Schedule Retrieved
  2. ^ Regular season baseball games to air on CBS
  3. ^ The New York Times - 1955
  4. ^ The New York Times - 1957
  5. ^ The New York Times - 1965
  6. ^ The New York Times - 1964
  7. ^ The New York Times - 1988
  8. ^ A Whole New Game: Two megabuck TV deals may change the face of baseball for good, or not so good
  9. ^ It's reminiscent of the quick-cash Peter Ueberroth days. In 1989, MLB sold exclusive national rights to CBS, even knowing that CBS planned to provide far less baseball than NBC had before it.
  10. ^ The contract was negotiated over the last two months primarily by Mr. Ueberroth's deputy for broadcasting, Bryan Burns, who said that the three networks were asked only this week to submit their dollar offers after weeks of discussing other factors. The decision was made by Mr. Ueberroth and confirmed unanimously by the club owners. He indicated that one network, presumably NBC, had come close to the CBS offer. But he declined to discuss the amounts involved. Mr. Burns said only Peter has seen the figures.
  11. ^ A Billion-Dollar Bid By CBS Wins Rights To Baseball Games
  12. ^ By the late 1980s the advertising industry was announcing that the era of megabuck sports TV packages was over because advertisers no longer had enough money to pay for them. What the ad pundits didn't realize was that network TV saw value in televising the League Championship Series and the World Series-prime vehicles for introducing their new fall programming lineups. When time came to renegotiate a national TV package, NBC (which had carried the Saturday Game of the Week for years) and ABC (which had carried some Monday night games and had alternated the League Championship Series and World Series with NBC) were both outslugged at the bargaining table by third-rated CBS.
  13. ^ With a larger consumer base for both streams, teams in big markets cleaned up and the revenue disparity between the haves and have-nots reached new heights (see Yankees/MSG deal).
  14. ^ CBS' deal for a handful of Saturday games plus all postseason play was for $1.1 billion over four years. When ESPN kicked in another $400 million for the same period of time, each team became instantly richer to the tune of $14 million a year. The result was felt immediately on the field. Free agency reached new heights, as the "$3 Million Man" was created, then surpassed. When the owners tried to claim poverty at the 1990 labor negotiations, the players scoffed. The average player increased his annual wealth by $70,000 overnight
  15. ^ The New York Times - 1989
  16. ^ The New York Times - 1983
  17. ^ CBS Major League Baseball (1990 - 1993).wma
  18. ^ Bob Christianson - COMPOSER · ARRANGER · MUSICIAN
  19. ^ The New York Times - 1990
  20. ^ Major League Baseball on CBS - January 01, 1990 to December 31, 1990
  21. ^ On Dec. 13, CBS obtained exclusive network rights to major league baseball for four years, beginning in 1990, with a bid of $1.08 billion. Each season CBS will televise the All-Star Game, both league championship series and the World Series, as well as 12 regular-season games.
  22. ^ Montreal at N.Y. Mets — Strawberry and Kevin Elster belt home runs in the Mets’ 5-4 victory (CBS/very good)
  23. ^ Chicago Cubs at San Francisco — Giants score two runs in ninth to win wild 10-9 affair (CBS/excellent)
  24. ^ Los Angeles at San Francisco — Trevor Wilson's two-hitter enables Giants to post 2-1 victory (CBS/excellent)
  25. ^ The New York Times - 1991
  26. ^ Major League Baseball on CBS - January 01, 1991 to December 31, 1991
  27. ^ CBS scraps pregame baseball playoff shows
  28. ^ 1990-93 Major League Baseball airs on CBS. The highlight is October 23, 1993, when Toronto's Joe Carter hits a World Series-ending home run against the Philadelphia Phillies, giving the Blue Jays their second consecutive World Series crown.
  29. ^ Houston at Atlanta — Ron Gant homers, John Smoltz fires complete game as Braves clinch NL West title (CBS/good)
  30. ^ McCarver said he and Buck plan only to fine-tune their chemistry, which they feel improved in the post season after a regular season of 16 games broken up by two lengthy hiatuses. "It's a matter of timing and pacing, when to come in and not step on each other," he said. "Normal stuff."
  31. ^ The New York Times - 1992
  32. ^ Major League Baseball on CBS - January 01, 1992 to December 31, 1992
  33. ^ Oakland at Milwaukee � Four Brewers pitchers limit Athletics to six hits in 2-1 triumph (CBS/excellent)
  34. ^ The New York Times - 1993
  35. ^ Major League Baseball on CBS - January 01, 1993 to December 31, 1993
  36. ^ Philadelphia at San Francisco — Robby Thompson doubles, homers to lead Giants over Phillies (CBS/excellent)
  37. ^ San Francisco at Los Angeles — Giants win 5-3, stay tied with Braves with one game left in season (CBS/very good)
  38. ^ Before long CBS and ESPN were doubting the wisdom of their profligate ways. Viewership had not risen enough to pay the higher tab, and both networks claimed huge losses. Even though CBS admitted the postseason had helped its new lineup, it asked for (and was refused) rebates from baseball.
  39. ^ In 1990, when the owners kept spring training camps closed and delayed the start of the season, CBS asked for an adjustment on its payments to baseball, but was rebuffed.
  40. ^ VIEWS OF SPORT; Fight Baseball's TV Fadeout
  41. ^ 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. The reason for the cutback to 12 games, Mr. Ueberroth said with a laugh, was simple. The teams sell them locally and get a lot of money, he said. The prime example was the recent sale of television rights by the Yankees, who will collect $500 million over a 12-year period from the Madison Square Garden cable network for as many as 150 games a season by 1991. The 12 others are reserved for the national television package, now owned by CBS. The Yankees thereby became the first baseball team to award its local broadcast package entirely to cable television, which could set the pattern for other teams in the future.
  42. ^ * This contract abandons the network whose baseball reverence is perhaps TV's worst-kept secret; NBC, which has covered the pastime since 1947, wanted to broadcast a 1990 Game each Saturday. In contrast, CBS's sports head, Neal Pilson, flaunts his network's baseball nescience by saying, The emphasis on baseball will now be on the post-season. (Bart Giamatti often said, Of all sports, baseball's regular season matters most.) Giamatti, like Vincent, knew that baseball and any network need a healthy regular season for the post-season to prosper. Like readers deprived of a novel's first six chapters, October viewers will have to watch something they know little of from April to September.
  43. ^ 'For years, said Howard Stringer, the president of the CBS Broadcast Group, we watched the baseball playoffs and World Series give our rivals a clear edge in the fall program ratings. We always had to catch up. Fewer Games Will Be Shown
  44. ^ Negotiating the contract, Ueberroth lured $1.1 billion from CBS for the entire package, and for the simplest reason. Only CBS needed baseball's post-season games so desperately - to lift October audiences, and promote its flagging prime-time schedule -that it would pay anything to gain exclusivity. Baseball was something to be used, not loved. That CBS wouldn't telecast a weekly Game didn't trouble Ueberroth. Nor does it Pilson, today.
  45. ^ But the factors that induced CBS to outbid NBC by $380 million to get the current deal are not at play anymore. CBS's losses mean that no network will enter the talks wishing to merely break even. Or, as CBS envisioned, to use baseball as a loss-leader platform, enabling it to gain exposure for prime-time programs in October.
  46. ^ The 1992 and 1993 World Series received two of the three all-time lowest TV ratings for a Series. This was due in part to Canadian viewership not being counted in the ratings. During the 1992 Series ESPN announced it was willing to pay a $13 million penalty to forego its option to carry 1994–95 games for $250 million. Owners, afraid that their glory days of network TV billions were gone, decided to reopen negotiations on the Basic Agreement a year early. Had the owners' century-old fear of "giving the game away" finally come true? Had baseball fans finally seen enough? No, and no.
  47. ^ In 1990 CBS, like other companies dependent on advertising, saw its income drop precipitously as the country remained stuck in a recession, and prospects for an economic recovery seemed bleak as a war in the Persian Gulf threatened to erupt. Also contributing to the poor fiscal performance that year were the huge hits CBS took on major sports contracts, particularly on professional baseball: the company was forced to swallow $171.2 million in losses.
  48. ^ *An additional playoff series would create more advertising time to sell, a daunting prospect for any network. But the idea is fancied by Bill Giles, the owner of the Philadelphia Phillies and a member of the TV committee. "This September tells me we need to create more interest in more cities," Giles said, referring to the lack of stirring pennant races.
  49. ^ By far Tisch's worst decision was not in selling but in spending $1.4 billion in 1989 for Major League Baseball, a grandstand effort to boost programming that struck out. How much did CBS overpay? In 1990 and 1991 the company wrote off some $600 million in total for baseball and a National Football League deal. CBS made only a smidgen of profit in 1990 and had a loss in 1991. It was not our finest hour, admits Stringer, but it showed that Larry was prepared to spend money, which people doubted at the time. It told our 216 affiliates we were determined to be competitive.
  50. ^ As in 1990, the company racked up huge losses in its sports divisions, proving to some observers what had always been suspected: the network had grossly overpaid for its baseball and football contracts, which were to expire after their respective 1993 seasons.
  51. ^ What Ueberroth also liked was the $1.08 billion that CBS was willing to spend. No sooner was CBS's victory announced than word leaked out that ABC and NBC had proffered bids in the mid-$600 million range for an equivalent package. If true, that meant CBS had overspent by some $400 million—perhaps because it simply didn't dare lose this bidding war.
  52. ^ DBSForums Discussion Forums — View Single Post — TBS signs on to air LCS games
  53. ^ In 1993, cash flows from operating activities were lower than in 1992. This was primarily caused by the excess of payments for baseball and football program rights over their related revenues, the rights fee paid for the 1994 Olympic Winter Games, and a higher level of year-end accounts receivable, due to increased sales in the fourth quarter.
  55. ^ The New York Times - 1994
  56. ^ The New York Times - 1995
  57. ^ [1]

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