On Thursday the Cubs released their 2008 tv broadcast schedule. Not owning a high-definition set, I wasn't much impressed by the announcement that all 162 Cubs games this season will be available in hi-def to Chicago-area viewers.
What did stick with me was the note that WGN-TV has now been broadcasting Cubs games for 60 years. That led me to dig up a Chicago Tribune story written on March 8, 1948 by Larry Wolters, from whom Cub fans first learned that their favorite team's games were about to be piped directly into their living rooms.
“The first move by WGN-TV to provide full coverage of major sports to Chicago area tele-viewers was made yesterday with the announcement that W-G-N’s new television station will carry all home games of the Chicago Cubs this season…
"The first Cub game to be played before WGN-TV cameras will be the home opener against St. Louis in Wrigley Field on Friday, April 23."
Cubs owner Philip K. Wrigley was clearly proud to be at the forefront of a major development in American sports and American culture. For Wrigley and the Cubs, it wasn't the first time.
"'The Cubs are gratified that the televising of baseball games, which we inaugurated from Wrigley Field, is not meeting with the resistance that greeted the pioneer efforts in radio broadcasting we inaugurated in 1925.Wrigley had no doubt about the potential impact of television on baseball.
"'For many years there was a suspicion among baseball people that broadcasting would hurt attendance at ball games. Now, of course, everyone recognizes that radio broadcasting has been a potent factor in stimulating baseball attendance.'"
"'We are confident that television, handled with imagination and understanding, will bring baseball closer to vast numbers of Americans, and will result eventually in bringing many more persons to ball parks, to get a closeup, personal view of the dramatic scenes and colorful characters they become acquainted with on the television screens.'"Wolters' story closed with a last bit of news; one that would positively affect Cub fans for generations.
"Jack Brickhouse will give the commentary. Brickhouse was recently appointed sports service manager for W-G-N, WGN-TV, and WGNB."