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Saturday, October 3, 2015

Maris homer was replayed on CBS in 1961 during the Giants football game.

Ken Singleton has a memory of it similar but different than mine.  Singleton was born June 10, 1947, so he's about 10 months older than I.
Photo of Ken Singleton
Ken Singleeton
Oct. 1 was the anniversary of Roger Maris breaking the season home run record of Babe Ruth in the new 162 game season, which resulted from the American League expanding by adding the Los Angeles Angels and new Washington Senators with the old Senators moving and morphing into the Minnesota Twins.   During a showing of the film of Maris hitting home run number 61 at Yankee Stadium on the final day of the 1961 season, Singleton recounted his recollection of that on Oct. 1 2015 while announcing the Yankee game.

Both Singleton and I recall that we were watching, in our respective homes, the New York (football) Giants NFL game on CBS.  They were called the football Giants to distinguish them from the recently departed baseball Giants who had more history and weight in New York in 1961.  The football Giants had been 6-4-2 in 1960.  The National Football League (NFL) also expanded in 1961 by adding the Dallas Cowboys and Minnesota Vikings, so the Giants were playing the new 14 game schedule in 1961 when they would go 10-3-1 under new coach Allie Sherman but ultimately lose the championship game in Green Bay to the Packers.  The Giants played their 1961 home games in Yankee Stadium.

New York Giants 24 at Washington Redskins 21
Sunday, October 1, 1961
District of Columbia Stadium

That win made the Giants record 2-1.

But here is where our memories diverge and I'm pretty sure that Singleton is incorrect and he is combining two things into one: watching the Giants and not the Yankees and much later, maybe even a later day, seeing the film of Maris hitting number 61.  A digital file of that film can easily be found on youtube.com

Singleton stated that he switched from the Giants game to the Yankee game.  Stop right there.  Television sets back then did not have remote controls, at least not the TVs in my house in the Cambria Heights section of Queens in New York City and I'm guessing also not in the Singleton house in Mt. Vernon, NY in Westchester county to the north, which the Singleton family bought from the family of Ralph Branca.  Yes, that Ralph Branca.

Wednesday, October 3, 1951,, Polo Grounds V
Attendance: 34,320, Time of Game: 2:28
Giants 5, Dodgers 4

HR: Bobby Thomson (32, off Ralph Branca, 9th inn, 2 on, 1 out to Deep LF).

Giants announcer Russ Hodges on radio: "The Giants win the pennant!  The Giants win the pennant!  The Giants win the pennant!  They're going crazy!"

That Ralph Branca.

Back to the tale of the video tape.  In addition to a lack of a remote control the old knobs for changing TV channels were often loose and required the deftness of a safe cracker to fine tune the position just to get a picture.  That's in conjunction with the adjustment of a "rabbit ears" antenna attached to the TV, which often required movement when the channel was changed.  Believe me, Singleton was not switching back and forth between the football Giants and Yankees.

What I have recalled all along is that the Giants game was interrupted as if a breaking news story had occurred and CBS showed Maris hitting the home run.  Then right back to the football game.  I've mentioned this to people over the years but until yesterday nobody had a similar recollection.  My friend Joe says that he remembers it as I do.

How likely is it?


While the first near-instant replay system was developed and used in Canada, the first instant replay was developed and deployed in the United States.

During a 1955 Hockey Night in Canada broadcast on CBC Television, producer George Retzlaff used a "wet-film" (kinescope) replay, which aired several minutes later. Videotape was introduced in 1956 with the Ampex Quadruplex system...

CBS Sports Director Tony Verna invented a system to enable a standard videotape machine to instantly replay on December 7, 1963, for the network's coverage of the Army–Navy Game... After technical hitches, the only replay broadcast was (Army QB) Rollie Stichweh's touchdown.


So, it seems likely that CBS had the necessary primitive technology to quickly replay the homer.  But how did CBS quickly get access to the replay medium.  Here's a guess.  Both the Giants game in Washington televised in New York and the Yankee game at the Stadium went through a common New York distribution facility and CBS had access to that.  CBS must have been recording the Yankee as it passed through the transmission facility and then replayed the brief portion on its own network in New York.

Any specific recollections or information on the 1961 technology are welcome.

1 comment:

Mark said...

Hello! Don't know if you'll still be looking here, but.....I got here from a link on baseball-reference.com. (This page is currently linked from Bobby Thomson's page there.) Enjoyed your account! Just wanted to mention, it wouldn't have been unusual at all for Singleton to have switched between channels. The difficulty that you describe was unusual -- or, at least, it was unknown to me, either in my home (in Queens) or at any of my friends' (all around the New York area). We all switched quickly back and forth between channels all the time, without difficulty, and of course yes, it wasn't with a 'remote' but by turning the knob on the TV. This still doesn't mean that Singleton's version is exactly right, but I doubt there's any technical issue of switching between channels that argues against it.