NBC and Costas Will Make Their Return to Baseball . . . Later

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It would have worked out nicely.

Today is the 55th anniversary of the first televised major league baseball game--Cincinnati against the Brooklyn Dodgers from Ebbets Field on NBC--and tonight was supposed to be NBC’s first regular-season baseball telecast since 1989.

But strike all that.

And you can’t blame NBC’s Bob Costas for being a little upset. His return to the sport he loves has been put on hold, and he mostly blames the owners.

“They may have had some legitimate complaints, but they overstated them with statements that even a 12-year-old could see through,” he said.


“They have muddied the waters with ridiculous claims and created an atmosphere of mistrust.”

Costas believes a third party, preferably a new commissioner, is needed “to restore trust and hopefully get this thing settled.”

How about Costas for commissioner? Of course, he’d have to take a salary cut.


Add Costas: He was at Camden Yards in Baltimore recently to tape his role as host of a prime-time special, “40 for the Ages: Sports Illustrated’s 40th Anniversary Special,” which will be on NBC Wednesday, Sept. 14.

On the program, which is based on the magazine’s 40th anniversary issue (Sept. 19), 40 of the most influential sports figures since the magazine’s inception in 1954 will be named. Picking the top 40 will be a group of SI writers and editors.

Could generate a few debates.


Last add Costas: One of the best shows on radio is “Costas: Coast to Coast.” At one time it was being carried Sunday nights at 6 by KMPC.

It’s still around but hard to find. XTRA has been carrying it most Sunday nights at 11.

Howard Freedman, XTRA’s program director, said ESPN radio programming has pushed it to the late-night spot, but it might move back to 6 p.m. this fall.


Costas is not always the host--Pat O’Brien is the main backup, with James Brown, Jim Lampley or Bob Trumpy occasionally filling in--but no matter, the show is always first rate.


Recommended viewing: There’s exhibition football tonight on TNT and Saturday on NBC and Fox, but ABC, the week before it starts its 25th year of “Monday Night Football” with the Raiders at San Francisco on Sept. 5, is taking this Monday off.

There is football on Fox Monday night. It’s the network’s first prime-time special, “NFL All-Access,” at 9 p.m.

The network sent camera crews to the training camps of the Dallas Cowboys, Arizona Cardinals and Minnesota Vikings, and they were given full access to everything.

The crews spent a combined 27 days at the three camps, gathering some excellent footage. The special opens with John Madden visiting the Oakland Raiders’ old Santa Rosa training camp, which is now a shambles. The El Rancho Motel that used to house the players was torn down shortly after Madden’s segment was taped.

The piece sometimes is hard to follow because there is no narrator, but overall it’s a show football fans won’t want to miss.


Another show not to miss is TNT’s “Stadium Show” preseason special Sunday at 5 p.m. Lawrence Taylor makes his TV debut and among other things will talk with his former coach, Bill Parcells.


A little baseball: ABC offers the Little League World Series championship game, featuring Northridge, Saturday delayed at 3:30 p.m., with John Saunders and Jim Palmer calling the action.

Palmer will also work the major league World Series, if there is one.

Also taking part in ABC’s Little League coverage Saturday will be 13-year-old Maria Sansone, a regular contributor to television station WJET in Erie, Pa., who has worked for ABC on other events.

XTRA made a deal late Thursday to carry Saturday’s game live at 1 p.m. XTRA can be heard on 670 in the San Fernando Valley.


Ratings game: The lack of baseball seems to be paying benefits for football.

Last Sunday night, the Cowboys and Denver Broncos delivered an 8.5 rating for TNT, not only its highest exhibition rating ever but the fifth-highest football rating of any kind for the cable network.

ABC got an impressive 13.1 for Chicago and Kansas City last Monday, and Fox’s second NFL exhibition telecast, Green Bay vs. New Orleans last Friday, got a 6.9 national Nielsen rating, up from a 6.5 for its the network’s first NFL exhibition.



College football: ABC kicks off the college football season Sunday at 11 a.m. with the Kickoff Classic--Nebraska vs. West Virginia--and Channel 9 televises Monday night’s 6 o’clock Pigskin Classic--Fresno State vs. Ohio State--from Anaheim Stadium.

Warren Williamson of Malibu-based Radio Sports Creations was hoping to get XTRA to carry Monday night’s nationally syndicated radio broadcast of the Pigskin Classic. But XTRA passed, so Williamson had to buy time on Orange County’s KORG to get an L.A. outlet.


Beach volleyball: NBC offers live coverage Saturday and Sunday of the Miller Lite International Championships at Hermosa Beach. This is the eighth of 10 beach volleyball events to be televised by NBC this year.

NBC began televising beach volleyball in 1990 after it lost baseball, and the sport has become a mainstay for the network. One of the reasons is the work of announcers Chris Marlowe and Paul Sunderland.

TV-Radio Notes

Channel 2’s popular “L.A. Football Co.” show with Jim Hill has bit the dust, a victim of CBS’ losing football to Fox. Meanwhile, a new locally produced NFL show, “Fox Overtime,” with Rick Garcia, makes its debut on Channel 11 Sept. 4 after the Dallas-Pittsburgh game. . . . Prime Ticket’s Ron Pitts, the former UCLA defensive back who will also be an analyst for Fox this season, interviews former Bruin teammate Darryl Henley on tonight’s “Press Box.” . . . Saturday’s Raider game at Houston will be on NBC at 11 a.m. . . . Martina Navratilova is interviewed by Barbara Walters on ABC’s “20/20” tonight at 10, and touches on a wide range of topics.

The USA network’s weekday U.S. Open tennis coverage begins Monday, with John McEnroe returning as one of the commentators. CBS’ coverage begins Saturday, Sept. 3, with Mary Carillo and Tony Trabert serving as analysts. McEnroe, during another one of his rambling conference calls with reporters this week, said of Carillo: “I haven’t seen her in 12 years. I think it’s funny that when people want a quote about me, they ask Mary Carillo. She doesn’t have a . . . clue about me.” Carillo, asked about the possibility of ever working with McEnroe, said, “That would be great--we could exchange gunfire across the booth.”


Respected NBC executive Jon Miller has been promoted to senior vice president of sports, the No. 2 position in the department behind president Dick Ebersol. . . . Former Olympic skier Andy Mill, who worked the last two Winter Olympics as a commentator for CBS, will join ABC’s “Good Morning America” as a regular contributor on Tuesday. For his second segment on Wednesday, he will be joined by his wife, Chris Evert.

Callers to KMPC loved the Jim Healy tribute on Wednesday. Here’s hoping the station will make cassette tapes available to the public and also replay it a few more times. . . . Former KMPC talk-show host Tony Femino will begin doing a nightly talk show for Phoenix all-sports station KGME next week. . . . Femino, in association with Short Stick Productions of Studio City, recently put together a television pilot, “Sports on Tap.” Femino is one of the hosts along with XTRA’s Chet Forte, Kenneth Miller, a sportswriter for the Los Angeles Sentinel, and Lenny Del Genio of Bally’s Sportsbook. Prime Network has expressed interest in the show which is similar to ESPN’s “Sports Reporters.”

USC’s Rob Johnson will be among the Pacific 10 quarterbacks featured on CNN’s “College Football Preview” show Saturday at 8:30 a.m. . . . John Robinson and Terry Donahue will be Irv Kaze’s guests on KIEV tonight at 6:15. . . . Boxing beat: For the first time in recent memory, a world title fight will be on local over-the-air television Sept. 10 when Channel 9 carries Humberto (Chiquita) Gonzalez defending his World Boxing Council-International Boxing Federation light-flyweight titles against Argentina’s Juan (Domingo) Cordova in Lake Tahoe. The announcers will be Rich Marotta and Doug Krikorian.