Center Field Shot: A History of Baseball on Television

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Overview

In Baseball Weekly’s list of things that most affected baseball in the twentieth century, television ranked second—behind only the signing of Jackie Robinson. The new medium of television exposed baseball to a genuinely national audience; altered the financial picture for teams, owners, and players; and changed the way Americans followed the game. Center Field Shot explores these changes—all even more prominent in the first few years of the twenty-first century—and makes sense of their meaning for America’s pastime. Center Field Shot traces a sometimes contentious but mutually beneficial relationship from the first televised game in 1939 to the new era of Internet broadcasts, satellite radio, and high-definition TV, considered from the perspective of businessmen collecting merchandising fees and advertising rights, franchise owners with ever more money to spend on talent, and broadcasters trying to present a game long considered “unfriendly” to television. Ultimately the association of baseball with television emerges as a reflection of—perhaps even a central feature of—American culture at large.
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Editorial Reviews

The Hardball Times

“At last an intensive analysis of this complicated and fascinating phenomenon has been produced. . . . Center Field Shot is at once a fun, engaging read that can be enjoyed in random five-minute snippets, and a serious full-length work of scholarship. Like the very best of television, it informs as it entertains.”

—Steve Treder, The Hardball Times

Variety

"Center Field Shot: A History of Baseball on Television successfully tells the story of how the sport made a huge breakthrough arriving in people''s homes. . . . Walker and Bellamy provide perhaps the definitive history of the evolution of baseball on television without ever getting too scholarly or slipping into fanciful nostalgia."

—Josh Marks, Variety

Choice

"A well-told story of owners and networks, businessmen and merchandizing. The best part of this history of baseball on television is its revelation of how broadcasters learned a new craft, a new art form."

— S. Gittleman, Choice

NINE

"More than just baseball history shot through a video lens, Center Field Shot is also a history of television shot through the lens of the national pastime."

—Roberta Newman, NINE

Jonathan Eig

Center Field Shot is a winner. It’s smart, crisply written, and packed with eye-opening research and analysis. I learned something new on every page. Turn off the TV and start reading. I guarantee you’ll be glad you did.”

—Jonathan Eig, best-selling author of Luckiest Man: The Life and Death of Lou Gehrig and Opening Day: The Story of Jackie Robinson’s First Season

Andrew Zimbalist

“Walker and Bellamy have provided a lucid, comprehensive, and penetrating analysis of the historical evolution of the relationship between professional baseball and television. There is no better way to anticipate how the relationship will morph in the future than by understanding its past.”

—Andrew Zimbalist, author of In the Best Interests of Baseball? The Revolutionary Reign of Bud Selig

American Studies

"Bellamy and Walker offer a cogent and sophisticated analysis of the consequences of television for baseball, both positive and negative. Their work contains much new information and synthesizes the old with the new in meaningful ways. . . . Center Field Shot is a must for anyone interested in the impact of television on American culture, and on baseball, an American sporting institution that once carried the designation of National Pastime."—Richard C. Crepeau, American Studies

The Hardball Times - Steve Treder
“At last an intensive analysis of this complicated and fascinating phenomenon has been produced. . . . Center Field Shot is at once a fun, engaging read that can be enjoyed in random five-minute snippets, and a serious full-length work of scholarship. Like the very best of television, it informs as it entertains.”—Steve Treder, The Hardball Times
Variety - Josh Marks
"Center Field Shot: A History of Baseball on Television successfully tells the story of how the sport made a huge breakthrough arriving in people's homes. . . . Walker and Bellamy provide perhaps the definitive history of the evolution of baseball on television without ever getting too scholarly or slipping into fanciful nostalgia."—Josh Marks, Variety
Choice - S. Gittleman
"A well-told story of owners and networks, businessmen and merchandizing. The best part of this history of baseball on television is its revelation of how broadcasters learned a new craft, a new art form." S. Gittleman, Choice
NINE - Roberta Newman
"More than just baseball history shot through a video lens, Center Field Shot is also a history of television shot through the lens of the national pastime."—Roberta Newman, NINE
American Studies - Richard C. Crepeau
"Bellamy and Walker offer a cogent and sophisticated analysis of the consequences of television for baseball, both positive and negative. Their work contains much new information and synthesizes the old with the new in meaningful ways. . . . Center Field Shot is a must for anyone interested in the impact of television on American culture, and on baseball, an American sporting institution that once carried the designation of National Pastime."—Richard C. Crepeau, American Studies
Jonathan Eig
Center Field Shot is a winner. It’s smart, crisply written, and packed with eye-opening research and analysis. I learned something new on every page. Turn off the TV and start reading. I guarantee you’ll be glad you did.”—Jonathan Eig, best-selling author of Luckiest Man: The Life and Death of Lou Gehrig and Opening Day: The Story of Jackie Robinson’s First Season
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803248250
  • Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
  • Publication date: 6/1/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 402
  • Sales rank: 1,134,509
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

James R. Walker is professor of communication and chair of the Department of Communications at Saint Xavier University. Robert V. Bellamy Jr. is an associate professor in the Department of Journalism and Multimedia Arts at Duquesne University.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments     ix
Introduction: The Game in the Box     xi
The Local Game
The Experimental Years     3
The First Seasons of Televised Baseball     22
Team Approaches to Television in the Broadcast Era     43
The National Game
Televising the World Series     67
Origins of the Game of the Week     97
The National Television Package, 1966-89     120
National Broadcasts in the Cable Era     146
The Pay Television Era     163
Television and Baseball's Dysfunctional Marriage
Television As Threat, Television As Savior     179
Television and the "Death" of the Golden Age Minors     204
Baseball, Television, Congress, and the Law     219
Baseball and Television Synergy     236
How the Game Was Covered
The Announcer in the Television Age     257
Innovations in Production Practices     277
Epilogue: Baseball in the Advanced Media Age     311
Televised Baseball Games, 1949-81     323
Notes     335
Index     371

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