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Gibson and Hershiser Were Great, but NBC Prefers an A’s Win Next

Coming into the World Series, there was some concern at NBC that the Oakland Athletics would sweep the Dodgers, as they had swept Boston in the American League playoffs.

The last thing NBC wants is a 4-game Series. So is NBC now concerned about a Dodger sweep?

“I don’t think anyone is worried about that, not yet anyway,” an NBC official said after the Dodgers’ 6-0 victory Sunday night. “At least we’re going to Oakland. What we cheer for is for teams to win in their home ballparks, because there’s more excitement.”

The point is well taken. A 6-0 victory in Oakland would have been pretty bland, but a capacity crowd at Dodger Stadium cheering for Orel Hershiser to get another shutout provided NBC with the drama it needed Sunday night.

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“What we really cheer for is a 7-game Series,” the NBC official said.

There was a lot of cheering and celebrating around the NBC trucks Saturday night after Kirk Gibson provided the Dodgers with an incredible 5-4 victory and viewers with possibly the most dramatic moment in baseball history.

Joe Garagiola, after coming up from the press box to join the NBC crew, said: “All things considered, it was the biggest home run I’ve ever seen.”

Michael Weisman, NBC Sports’ executive producer, spotted a reporter who had written that NBC, considering the dramatics surrounding the National League championship series, had a tough act to follow.

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“How about that for topping ABC?” an excited Weisman said.

Add Weisman: Gibson said he came out of the trainer’s room and into the dugout after hearing Vin Scully say he was definitely out for the night.

Said Weisman: “Did Al Michaels ever help the Dodgers win a game?”

Coincidentally, the cameraman focusing on Gibson once he did come out into the dugout was Weisman’s younger brother, Harry.

All Scully said when Gibson homered was, “She is gone,” letting the crowd tell the rest of the story.

It was vintage Scully.

Harry Coyle, who has been directing baseball for 41 years and is working his 35th World Series, said Gibson’s homer really got the adrenaline flowing.

Coyle, who had a heart attack 3 months ago, had been thinking about retiring. “After this, I’ve got to come back,” he said.

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Sunday night, Coyle was, uncharacteristically, a little hyperactive, jumping from camera to camera too often when the Dodgers scored 5 times in the third inning. But things smoothed out after that, and throughout the replays were excellent, capturing anything that was missed with live shots.

A typical Scully line came at the end of the third inning. “A high 5, as the Dodgers score 5 runs, and 3 are knocked in by No. 5 (Mike Marshall),” he said.

Some opening: Did you catch the feature at the start of Sunday’s telecast? It was an excellent wrapup of Game 1, which Bob Costas called, “Echoes of the Miracle,” and it included a tape of Gibson’s game-winning homer interspersed with scenes of Roy Hobbs’ game-winning homer in the movie, “The Natural.”

NBC producer David Neal, who attended Taft High School in Woodland Hills and USC, created the feature.

During most of Game 1, Marv Albert sat in a trailer outside the stadium and prepared to do a postgame interview with Jose Canseco and Canseco’s father, whom NBC found sitting in the stands with Canseco’s agent, Dennis Gilbert.

Meanwhile, Costas planned to interview Mickey Hatcher. “I really didn’t think I’d get on the air,” he said.

Ultimately, Albert was the one who didn’t get on, as Costas instead interviewed Gibson.

Sunday night, Albert did the interview with Hershiser.

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Add Albert: He taped an interview with former A’s owner Charlie Finley Sunday. It is scheduled to be shown Tuesday night.

Costas was somewhat prophetic after the National Athem Saturday night, which was sung by Debbie Gibson. Said Costas: “The Dodgers brought in Debbie Gibson, and oh, to have Kirk Gibson.”

Graphically, NBC hit 2 home runs in Game 1. Right before Canseco’s grand slam in the second inning, associate producer Jeff Simon and statistician Elliott Kalb put up a graphic that said Canseco had never hit a grand slam.

And before Gibson’s game-winner against Dennis Eckersley in the ninth, the technicians put up a graphic that said Eckersley hadn’t given up a home run since Aug. 24.

Garagiola’s NBC contract is about to expire, and last week he voiced his displeasure about not yet having a new one and also about rumors that his performance during the Series may determine whether he gets one.

Garagiola and Art Watson, president of NBC Sports, went out to dinner Friday night, but Watson called the meeting routine.

“We’re not going to negotiate during a big event,” he said. “We’ll do that after the Series. I told Joe to just relax and have a great Series.”


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