Baseball Fans Will Get a Dutch Treat on All-Star Telecast
Are you ready for Ronald Reagan announcing baseball on national television?
NBC will use the former president as a guest commentator for one inning during the All-Star game July 11 at Anaheim Stadium.
He will join game announcers Vin Scully and Tom Seaver. Coincidentally, Scully, who lives in Pacific Palisades, is a former neighbor of the Reagans.
Reagan broadcast Iowa football in 1932 for WOC radio in Davenport, Iowa, and a year later shifted to WHO, an NBC affiliate in Des Moines.
Known to his listeners as Dutch Reagan, he did re-creations of Chicago Cubs games for five seasons. His play-by-play was based on ticker-tape descriptions provided by Western Union.
“You would think from hearing those ballgames you were sitting in Wrigley Field,” said the late H. R. Gross, who at the time was a WHO newscaster and went on to become a Republican congressman from Iowa, serving 26 years.
Reagan did 1 1/2 innings of color commentary last Sept. 30 during a surprise visit to Wrigley Field, joining Harry Caray and Steve Stone in the broadcast booth.
Dick Ebersol, president of NBC Sports, said: “American presidents have long been associated with baseball. President Reagan’s background in baseball broadcasting creates a special opportunity to keep that relationship alive.”
Speaking of guest commentators, a Pasadena fire captain, Norm Wiles, 35, of San Dimas, got to do an inning of TV play by play on Wednesday night as part of the Dodgers’ Think Blue promotion.
And you know what? Wiles, stepping in for Eddie Doucette of SportsChannel (formerly Z Channel), was terrific. He was well prepared, smooth and fundamentally sound.
Wiles said he was nervous going in, but he was cool under fire.
When commentator Don Sutton apologized for interrupting him and said, “Sorry, Norm, you go ahead, you’re the play-by-play man,” Wiles shot back: “That’s right, Don. And, Eddie, while you’re standing there, how about getting me a cup of coffee?”
After Wiles dazzled them in the bottom of the fifth inning and top of the sixth during the Dodgers’ 2-1 loss to San Diego, Sutton said: “Eddie, do you remember the first baseball game you ever announced? I do, and Norm did a lot better than I did.
“We better go home tonight and do some homework. Our jobs may be in jeopardy.”
Tennis aplenty: This four-day holiday weekend, NBC will be busy at Wimbledon.
There will be 2 1/2 hours of coverage Saturday, beginning at 3 p.m., two more Sunday, beginning at 1 p.m., and then special two-hour shows Monday and Tuesday, beginning at 9 a.m. both days.
All of the coverage will be delayed in the West.
Beginning Monday, NBC will offer 15-minute weeknight highlight shows at 11:30.
Meanwhile, HBO’s excellent weekday coverage continues tonight at 5 and resumes Monday at 5 p.m.
Add Wimbledon: NBC commentator Bud Collins made this observation:
“It’s the most important tournament, yet it’s the only one played on grass. You have to wonder why.
“It’s like holding the Indy 500 on a dirt road with potholes.”
But Collins, citing the tournament’s mystique, said: “I don’t see Wimbledon changing surfaces.”
What Collins thinks should be changed is the schedule.
“Wimbledon is too close to the French Open,” he said. “Wimbledon should be backed up two weeks to give the players one full month of grass tournaments to prepare.”
Cycling, anyone? The Tour de France, the world’s premier bicycle race, begins Saturday in Luxembourg, and this year the 1,996-mile race that concludes July 23 in Paris will be televised by ABC.
ABC will have to work hard to match the standard set by CBS, which won five Emmy awards for its Tour de France coverage in 1987 and 1988.
ABC outbid CBS for the television rights last year, agreeing to pay $1 million a year through 1991 even though CBS lost money on the race.
Al Trautwig will be the host of ABC’s weekend telecasts, with reports by Sam Posey and commentary by Phil Liggett.
ABC news correspondent Pierre Salinger will provide features on the bicentennial of the French Revolution and the 100th anniversary of the Eiffel Tower.
Because of the nine-hour time difference between Paris and Los Angeles, all of the shows will be tape-delayed in the West.
Saturday, Tour coverage will be part of ABC’s “Wide World of Sports,” and there will be a special show at 2 p.m.
There will be Saturday and Sunday shows through July 23. The Saturday shows will concentrate on what happened that day, and the Sunday shows will look deeper into what happened during the week.
A big hit: “Home Run Derby,” a series of half-hour, black-and-white programs taped in 1959 at Los Angeles’ old Wrigley Field, returns to ESPN July 10.
The shows, originally scheduled as late-night filler programming last December, were such a hit that they will be shown weekdays at 3 p.m. through mid-August.
Among the players showcased on “Home Run Derby” are Hank Aaron, Ernie Banks, Orlando Cepeda, Gil Hodges, Jackie Jensen, Al Kaline, Harmon Killebrew, Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Frank Robinson and Duke Snider.
L.A. sportscaster Mark Scott, who died in 1960, was the host of the series.
Todd Donoho will begin doing the sports on Channel 7’s 11 o’clock news July 10, the station’s general manager, Terry Crofoot, said. . . . Senior golf tournaments seem to be gaining in stature. ESPN this weekend made a new deal to televise at least 14 PGA Senior Tour tournaments next year, an increase of at least one over this year’s schedule, and this weekend’s U.S. Senior Open is on ABC. But one complaint: ABC is delaying the Senior Open in the West. Coverage will begin Saturday at 2:30 p.m., a delay of three hours, and Sunday at 3 p.m., a delay of two hours.
Attention boxing fans: FNN/SCORE offers a 10-hour boxing marathon on the Fourth of July, featuring past fights it has televised. Among the fighters who will be shown are George Foreman, Roberto Duran, Aaron Pryor, Barry McGuigan, Mark Breland, and Marlon Starling. . . . FNN/SCORE offers a live fight next Thursday evening, Rene Jacquot defending his World Boxing Council middleweight title against John Mugabi in Paris.
NBC reports its boxing telecasts this year are averaging a 4.3 Nielsen rating, up from a 3.2 at this time last year. NBC’s next fight telecast won’t be until Aug. 6, when featherweights Jorge Paez and Steve Cruz meet in El Paso, a fight that at one time appeared headed for the Forum. . . . That Aug. 6 fight will follow NBC’s coverage of the Philadelphia Eagles and Cleveland Browns playing in Wembley, England.
NBC offers delayed coverage of the Irish Derby on “SportsWorld” Sunday at 11:30 a.m. One entry, Old Vic, is an international entity all by himself. Old Vic is trained by Englishman Henry Cecil, ridden by American Steve Cauthen, and owned by a sheik from Dubai, Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum.
ESPN will have something different for an opening of its coverage of a stock car race at Daytona Beach Saturday at 10 a.m. Producer Neil Goldberg has put together a piece that shows Dale Earnhardt, Bill Elliott, Rusty Wallace and Darrell Waltrip, played by young actors, as they supposedly appeared 20 years ago. The piece is a take-off on the popular TV series, “The Wonder Years.” Young actors also play Elliott’s brothers, Dan and Ernie. There are 23 extras in the piece and 15 race cars from that period. The real drivers appear at the end of the piece.
A reminder: Z Channel officially becomes SportsChannel today. . . . Correction: The “Sportswriters on TV” show SportsChannel is currently running is with four Chicago-area columnists. A version with four L.A.-area sports columnists will not begin airing until September. . . . Prime Ticket’s “It’s Your Call” program will originate from Anaheim Stadium Monday night at 6.
Brett Lewis, filling in for vacationing Fred Roggin on KNBC this week, showed some hustle by getting a live interview with Clipper draft pick Danny Ferry at 5:40 p.m. Tuesday. Lewis set things up the day before with WNBC in New York. . . . TBS’ draft coverage, which this year began at 4:30 p.m. (7:30 in the East) got a 3.7 national Nielsen rating, up 68% from last year.