50 Years Ago Today, Game 1 Of The World Series Was Played
See How Baseball Was Played & Covered By NBC & Decide For Yourself If Anything Is Better Today
The Cincinnati Reds swept the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Baltimore Orioles swept the Minnesota Twins in the 1970 playoffs. The Reds and Orioles faced each other in game one of the 1970 World Series, 50 years ago today, Saturday, October 10 in Cincinnati.
Here is the entire broadcast of the game from NBC via the Canadian Broadcast Company (CBC) who preserved their copy. Pardon the interruptions for the “Special Bulletins.” The game was broadcast in color but apparently NBC’s copy is missing.
For the few people who do not know the outcome of this particular game I will not reveal it in the article.
Below is a breakdown of things you should look for in a game which took only two hours and twenty four minutes.
There are only two play by play announcers in the booth, Curt Gowdy (NBC) and Jim McIntyre (Reds announcer). They evenly split the call of the game with Gowdy doing the first half and McIntyre the second. Former Yankee Tony Kubek interviews people before and during the game in cut-aways that are brief.
Both announcers are professional announcers making astute observations, not former ballplayers with “inside knowledge.” Gowdy never screams or needs to add “emphasis” to his calls. He lets the action speak for itself. There are no stupid or superfluous comments by any of the broadcast team. There is little meaningless banter between the announcers and McIntyre doesn’t feel the need to fill in every moment with talking when there’s a break in the action.
The two announcers were not required to make commercial announcements during the game, allowing the home audience to take in the action without distractions. At the end of every inning Gowdy recaps it like this, “one run, three hits no errors, and two men left at the end of the first inning it’s Cincinnati one and Baltimore nothing.”
The coverage itself has many features that today’s broadcasts lack; most notably the behind the plate camera angles during pitch sequences. You can actually see the defensive setups and where the ball is headed when it is put into play. There is also the use of split screen when there is a runner on base with stolen base potential. Instant replay is used sparingly. Fewer cameras are used than today. Obviously no instant replay challenges and thank god no box superimposed on the screen to artificially set a faulty strike zone.
Graphics are sparsely used and the screen remains clear of distractions. When a graphic is put up it is an interesting one, “Tommy Helms only struck out 33 times in 1970.” Not mentioned was Helms had 607 plate appearances.
The Game Itself
First and most notably the game is a day game! The natural ambience of the brand new Riverfront Stadium can be heard clearly meaning there is no pumped in extra noise or music blaring over the sound system. You can clearly hear vendors calling out “hot dogs” or some leather lunged fans screaming among the din. A few times you will hear the bugle call and the fans yelling charge but that’s about it. No need to spur on the masses telling them when to cheer or make noise. When the crowd does make noise it is polite yet raucous cheering or booing as when Bernie Carbo is called out at home, more on that later.
The batters generally do not step out of the box. Few players wear the recent innovation, batting gloves, therefore there is not the constant need to step out of the box to readjust them.
Both pitchers, the Reds Gary Nolan and Orioles Jim Palmer work quickly. Nolan throws a pitch about every 15 seconds, Palmer slightly less at 13 seconds. Neither rely on their hard fastballs, mixing up their pitches and using the craft of pitching around the entire plate.
In general there is little arguing over missed calls of strikes. Orioles manager Earl Weaver does come out of the dugout to argue a check swing by Lee May. Most players gracefully, if grudgingly accept the umpire’s calls. There are few mound visits by catchers or coaches.
Everyone hustles, not just Pete Rose aka “Charlie Hustle.”
There is restrained showmanship by the players upon celebrating home runs or scoring. These are grown men; professional athletes competing against one another, and they’re not good friends with the other teams players. The celebrating players shake hands or slap one another on the shoulders. They respectfully retire to the dugout and do not jump up and down acting like giddy four-year-olds.
Things you may not notice.
Reds shortstop Woody Woodward choking up on the bat a good ten inches. Pinch hitter Angel Bravo (I don’t remember him at all) chokes up even further.
Third baseman Brooks Robinson’s outstanding defensive skills.
There is a shift put on for Boog Powell with three Reds playing between first and second. Powell goes with the pitch the other way and hits a home run to left.
The hit and run play is used. Pitcher Nolan successfully lays down a two strike sacrifice bunt.
Starting pitcher Jim Palmer is left in a tight game to hit, not just once, but twice late in the game. In the seventh and the ninth innings, Palmer who hit .150 in 1970, bats with two men on base. This would NEVER happen today unless the pitcher was Shoehai Ohtani, who of course if starting would never still be pitching in the ninth inning.
A 20 game winner in 1970, Palmer did not have one strikeout through the first eight innings. Palmer allowied five hits and five walks but was inducing batters to hit the ball to his fielders. Manager Earl Weaver’s faith was also unswerving in his ace.
The last thing to watch is the now infamous play on Bernie Carbo being called out on a play at the plate in the sixth inning. It still ranks as one of the most bizarre calls in the history of televised baseball. Umpire Ken Burkhart does not ask for help from the other umpires on the call. Amazing, considering Burkhart was facing the wrong way when Carbo slid into home and never even saw the attempted tag by Elrod Hendricks. Henricks had the ball in his hand yet tagged Carbo with his empty glove. Carbo never touched home plate. After the call Carbo jumped on home plate while arguing.
It’s a case where instant replay review would have been appropriate and possibly changed the outcome of at least game one of the 1970 World Series.