Fan Power

Aug. 22nd, 2014 07:20 pm
1980 will always be remembered in Philadelphia as the year the Phillies broke the 30 year long World Series drought. I attended the first game (what a novice) and watched the rest at home. Back then it was common practice to turn down the TV on nationally broadcast games, listening to the much beloved voices of Ritchie Ashburn and Harry Kalas calling the game on local radio. But some suits had decided that for post season games we would be better off hearing the same voices (and commercials) as the rest of the country. For years baseball fans around the country had been demanding some accommodation, some way they could keep their favorite local broadcasters. No one could come up with a compromise that pleased both the people and the advertisers. The fans grumbled and MLB was happy raking in advertising fees.

But in Philadelphia 1980 was different
. We felt we deserved to hear the games called right, not by some bums who couldn't tell the Frankford El from the Broad Street Subway and we made damned sure everyone else knew how we felt. It was too late for the 1980 series, but the negative publicity was enough that Major League Baseball finally gave in and allowed local radio coverage of playoff and World Series games. The next time you listen to your favorite regional broadcasters calling a World Series, thank the loud, rowdy and above all indomitable Phillies fans for making it possible.

Fast forward to 2008. Philadelphia is in the World Series again. Ritchie Ashburn has been gone nearly a decade but Harry Kalas is still the voice of the Phillies. Cable has brought satellite technology into most homes. Now if you tried turning down the TV to listen to the game on the radio the picture would be several seconds late. While radio was a direct link between the ballpark, the studio and you, the TV signal was relayed by one or more satellites 23 thousand miles up before being sent to your cable box. Some put up with hearing a guy called out long before he saw the pitch being thrown, but others got creative. They figured out you could use guitar effects boxes or a home computer to delay the sound from the radio until they were in sync. I'm sure there must have been at least one person who did it old school with a pair of tape recorders.

Why go to all that trouble? So we could watch the game and still hear Harry the K call that final out.



August 2014

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