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25th Anniversary of First Televised Sports Event

May 2, 1964 - Two weeks from tomorrow will mark the 25th anniversary of what is said to be the first televised sports event in the United States. It occurred May 17, 1939, when W2XBS, NBC’s experimental station in New York, televised a college baseball game (pictured) between Columbia and Princeton at Baker Field. With less than 400 receivers in use, the event got little attention. No one envisioned that it was the forerunner of the Ballantine blast and the White Owl wallop.

Bill Stern was the play-by-play commentator. The single camera was on a 12-foot-high wooden stand on the third base side of the diamond. The camera panned back and forth from pitcher to catcher each time the ball was thrown.

To mark the anniversary a little ahead of time, Columbia University invited the NBC production crew to return to Baker Field this Tuesday, when its baseball team plays Princeton. Athletes who played in the 1939 game also have been invited. Television, which has gone on to many other historic firsts, will not be available for live coverage.


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