The History of Baseball Broadcasting: Modern Day

This is the final part of a four part series about the history of baseball broadcasting. Part one can be found here, part two can be found here, and part three can be found here.

Baseball broadcasts have come a long way from the early days, when there was often just one broadcaster, as opposed to modern broadcasts with no fewer than two, and most national broadcasts with three people in the booth. Radio is no longer dominant, as television has become the preferred medium for broadcasting games, both home and away.

The change was gradual, with most owners wary at first because they feared that, if people could see the games at home, they would not want to buy tickets and attend them in person. As television has grown to become a bigger part of broadcasting, and the money from broadcasting contracts has eased the transition, that fear has largely been disproved. The only place where you see much of a decline in attendance is in a market where the team is not very good.

Throughout television’s evolution, the technology used on broadcasts has changed dramatically. The first broadcasts used just one, or maybe two cameras. Now, most broadcasts use a lot of cameras, which provide shots and angles that are commonplace to us, but to a person watching a game in the early days would have seemed impossible.

Another massive innovation is the use of microphones on players, coaches, and umpires. ESPN started this trend, as Ramon Hernandez of Oakland wore the first Player Mic on April 7, 2002. Other innovations include HD broadcasts, along with occasional 3D broadcasts, and Internet streaming, which is taken for granted nowadays.

Throughout these many changes, there has been one constant, and that is Vin Scully broadcasting Dodger games. Scully was in the booth back when games were only broadcast on radio, and when the Dodgers were in Brooklyn. He has seen all of these innovations first hand, including the first women to broadcast baseball games, notably Jessica Mendoza working ESPN Sunday Night Baseball games, and Suzyn Waldman, who works New York Yankees games for YES Network.

With all the changes that have taken place just in the last 60 years, you have to wonder what will happen in the next 50 years. Will games be broadcast by people who are not at the stadium? Will robot cameras be used more? Or will the innovations be so drastic that they can’t be fathomed?

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