Fox’s Airing of Ebersol Tribute Is Show of Class


In an era of excessive self-promotion and self-indulgence in sports television, every once in a while a network will simply do the right thing.

The Angels’ game at Boston on Saturday is Fox’s main regional baseball game of the week, and it will include a tribute that involves the family of the head of a competing network.

Before the game, the Red Sox will break ground for the revamping of a youth baseball facility on the banks of the Charles River, not far from Fenway Park.


The facility will be known as Teddy Ebersol’s Red Sox Fields at Lederman Park, in honor of the son of NBC Sports Chairman Dick Ebersol. Teddy, 14, died in a Colorado plane crash Nov. 28, and the Red Sox were his favorite team.

NBC’s Bob Costas will emcee the ceremony, and the Ebersol family, Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and other dignitaries are expected to attend.

NBC Sports, which will be televising the French Open women’s final on Saturday morning, is not planning to cover the event. But Fox Sports will have a crew there, and footage of the ceremony will be shown during the Angel-Red Sox game.

“This is the least we could do to show our continued support for Dick and the entire Ebersol family,” said Ed Goren, Fox Sports president.

Another Nice Gesture

Fox Sports and its cable sister, FSN, are teaming with Major League Baseball to raise money and awareness in the fight against prostate cancer.

There will be a home run challenge from June 8-19, when fans can make monetary pledges for every homer hit during 60 selected games on Fox or one of FSN’s regional networks.

A special feature with details about the fundraising program will be part of pregame shows, and broadcasters will wear blue lapel pins.

A Special Guest

The Dodgers play host to the Detroit Tigers in a three-game series beginning Monday on FSN West 2, and on Tuesday former Tiger manager Sparky Anderson will join Vin Scully in the booth for a few innings.

Laker Update

Word is Joel Meyers is all but set to become the Lakers’ new television play-by-play announcer. One source said an announcement won’t be made until after the team hires a new radio play-by-play announcer, which figures to be around the end of this month.

Laker public relations director John Black would neither confirm nor deny that Meyers has the TV job, but he did say the announcement wouldn’t necessarily be held up until a radio announcer is in place.

One name being mentioned for the radio job is Brian Wheeler, who has been in sports broadcasting for 22 years and spent the last seven as radio play-by-play announcer for the Portland Trail Blazers.

Walton Taken to Task

Detroit Piston Coach Larry Brown, a regular Thursday guest on the Van Earl Wright Fox Radio network morning show no longer carried by XTRA Sports, was asked about the rumors of his going to the Cleveland Cavaliers as president.

“Bill Walton made a comment [on ESPN] that just ... I almost threw up,” Brown said. “He said, ‘I wonder what Detroit team will show up or what coach will show up.’ Guys like that, that are so irresponsible and say things like that make you sick. ... The unknown sources are what, I think, hurt your profession.”

Ratings Game

Why is sports programming so valuable? Consider this: During the sweeps ratings period from April 28 to May 25, the NBA playoffs propelled TNT and ESPN to No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, among cable networks in prime time in the key demographic groups of males 18-34 and 18-49. ... And this from the NFL: Eleven games in the 2004 season had as many or more viewers than prime-time television’s five most-watched season finales during the May sweeps. The Super Bowl had 86 million viewers. The most-watched finale, CBS’ “Everybody Loves Raymond,” drew 33 million.

One of the best Indianapolis 500 races in recent memory got an overnight Nielsen rating of 6.6, a 40% increase over last year. But NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600, despite 22 caution flags that extended the race to 5 hours 13 minutes, still drew a 6.1 overnight. And when the national ratings come out, the margin could be even less. Just another example of how well NASCAR does as a television attraction.

Recommended Viewing

The talent of basketball players 14 and under will be spotlighted in a four-part Nickelodeon reality series, “The Team,” debuting Sunday at 8:30 p.m. The series follows a team that includes recording artist Lil’ Romeo, son of music mogul Master P, as it vies for a national AAU championship. Master P is one of the team’s coaches.

In Closing

One of the nation’s foremost authorities on baseball announcers, Curt Smith, ranks the top 101 of all time in his new book, “Voices of Summer.” Scully -- who else? -- is No. 1. Jaime Jarrin is 28th overall and No. 1 among Spanish-language announcers. Ross Porter is 61st, Don Drysdale 63rd and Jerry Doggett 88th.

Angel announcers on the list include Dave Niehaus 26th, Dick Enberg 38th, Buddy Blattner 48th and Bob Starr 77th.