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View Full Version : Why did Einhorn sign Hawk in the first place?


Fenway
07-10-2007, 09:32 AM
I've been exchanging some old articles by email with people here at WSI about how Hawk got himself "banned in Boston" and fled to Chicago. Mrs. Yawkey told WSBK he had to go even though he had 3 years left on his contract.

Hawk was as candid as Piersall was on Red Sox games and you would wonder why on earth he would want to risk going there again.

Einhorn gave one clue in 1982


Einhorn emphasized that no formal offer has been made to Harrelson. A final decision on whom to seek will probably be made within a week, and after that contract negotiations will take place.

"I would hate to leave Boston," Harrelson said. Atmosphere aside, his endorsements in this region are growing. His clients are as diversified as E. F. Hutton, Anheuser-Busch and Yellow Pages.


Selection of quality announcers is very important, Einhorn emphasized,because under the pay cable and pay TV plan for Chicago and its suburbs, subscribers will pay up to $21.95 per month for the sports presentations.


that was a lot of money back then for one cable channel :o:

Joe Goddard wrote in the Sun Times

Harrelson has been in as much hot water with Red Sox officials as Piersall was with the White Sox. Known as "the Hawk" for his beaked nose, Harrelson has been an outspoken critic of the Red Sox. Red Sox co-owner Haywood Sullivan has not spoken to him in almost a year.

Harrelson is more popular at charity functions in the Boston area than any Red Sox player.

What got Hawk in trouble???? Oh he said the following about the Red Sox front office.
This was written by the best sportswriter that Boston ever had Ray Fitzgerald who died way too early

Among other indictments, Harrelson called Red Sox general manager Haywood Sullivan "almost the laughingstock of the American League" and said that the ballclub was in "disarray, confused and chaotic."

The Hawk has been accused of cutting off his escape lanes by being so forthright with his opinions. Though he does not work directly for the Red Sox, he is employed by Channel 38, which has a healthy contract with the ballclub and wants to keep it. Knocking the hand that feeds the picture tube is not considered the way to do this.


So I really wonder...why on earth would Einhorn risk another Piersall?

DickAllen72
07-10-2007, 09:55 AM
Because Einhorn was totally incompetent and didn't know what he was doing?

I believe he made his money in Real Estate, so he obviously knew that field. But his plans for Pay TV "Sportsvision" for Sox games while the Cubs were free on superstation WGN, plus letting Harry Caray go to the Cubs and firing Jimmy Piersall show that he had no idea how to market a baseball team in a competitive major market city.

Then, on the night the Sox clinched the division in '83, he uses the occasion to say that this proves that Harry Caray and Jimmy Piersall are "scum." Classy move, Eddie.

Viva Medias B's
07-10-2007, 09:58 AM
Because Einhorn was totally incompetent and didn't know what he was doing?

I believe he made his money in Real Estate, so he obviously knew that field. But his plans for Pay TV "Sportsvision" for Sox games while the Cubs were free on superstation WGN, plus letting Harry Caray go to the Cubs and firing Jimmy Piersall show that he had no idea how to market a baseball team in a competitive major market city.

Then, on the night the Sox clinched the division in '83, he uses the occasion to say that this proves that Harry Caray and Jimmy Piersall are "scum." Classy move, Eddie.

Einhorn's background was in television. In the '60s, he was largely responsible for the explosion of college basketball on television with TVS. Before getting involved with the White Sox, Einhorn was an executive at CBS Sports. So he definitely has a television pedigree.

Fenway
07-10-2007, 10:02 AM
Because Einhorn was totally incompetent and didn't know what he was doing?

I believe he made his money in Real Estate, so he obviously knew that field. But his plans for Pay TV "Sportsvision" for Sox games while the Cubs were free on superstation WGN, plus letting Harry Caray go to the Cubs and firing Jimmy Piersall show that he had no idea how to market a baseball team in a competitive major market city.

Then, on the night the Sox clinched the division in '83, he uses the occasion to say that this proves that Harry Caray and Jimmy Piersall are "scum." Classy move, Eddie.

No JR was the real estate guy, Einhorn made his money in TV

Gammons was really brutal on the team in 1982

To start with, Einhorn and Reinsdorf didn't know what to do with fired broadcaster Jimmy Piersall, so they put him on SportsVision with commentaries during and after the game and gave him a postgame talk show. Gullible people feel they must pity Piersall, and ignorant people feel that because he was a player - and a very good one - he must know what he's screaming about. But the fact is that Piersall makes his living on other people's blood. Piersall is to journalism what dumping over a paint can is to art, and his absurd, second- guessing rantings have thrown fuel on the fire. "He's been killing me for three years," says LaRussa, "and what bothers me is that he's lied about so many things."


But hype was the idea, and the owners believed that the more people thought the White Sox would win, the more cable subscriptions would sell. There were problems getting SportsVision off the ground, and now with the team struggling, the 40,000 subscriptions needed to break even have turned out to be somewhere between 12,000 and 17,000, depending on who's talking. Not only that, but two bad months closing out the season could be disastrous: How many people are going to pay $22 a month this winter to watch the Black Hawks ice the puck?

DickAllen72
07-10-2007, 10:20 AM
Einhorn's background was in television. In the '60s, he was largely responsible for the explosion of college basketball on television with TVS. Before getting involved with the White Sox, Einhorn was an executive at CBS Sports. So he definitely has a television pedigree.
My mistake then. Wow, that really makes him look bad. A guy with sports television background screwing up the Sox television marketing so much. The franchise is still suffering from his decisions to let Caray go to the Cubs and his pay TV Sportsvision fiasco.

As for Piersall, I loved him as the color guy and analyst. If Einhorn was so displeased with his outspoken-ness maybe he thought Hawk would be "Piersall Lite." A guy with a reputayion for being an outspoken critic of management but one that Einhorn could control.

All I can say is going from Caray/Piersall on free TV to Drysdale/Harrelson on pay TV was a disaster in every aspect and the Sox still have never fully recovered market wise.

If only MLB would have allowed DeBartolo to buy the Sox.....

soxfanatlanta
07-10-2007, 10:23 AM
If only MLB would have allowed DeBartolo to buy the Sox.....

Off topic...

Correct me if I am wrong, but didn't DeBartolo plan on moving the team to New Orleans?

DickAllen72
07-10-2007, 10:27 AM
Off topic...

Correct me if I am wrong, but didn't DeBartolo plan on moving the team to New Orleans?
There may have been rumors to that effect as one possibility, but remember in context JR/Einhorn wanted to move the team to Florida and the only thing that stopped them was extorting the taxpayers of Illinois to finance his new stadium.

They even screwed that up, and it's only now after several years of expensive renovations that the Cell has become a great place to watch a ballgame. Originally the place wasn't too great.

jabrch
07-10-2007, 10:32 AM
Because Einhorn was totally incompetent and didn't know what he was doing?


Are you kidding?

Einhorn was in TV for a LONG LONG TIME, including CBS, TVS, etc. He knew EXACTLY what he was doing.

DickAllen72
07-10-2007, 10:34 AM
Are you kidding?

Einhorn was in TV for a LONG LONG TIME, including CBS, TVS, etc. He knew EXACTLY what he was doing.
It really worked out well, didn't it? I guess he WANTED to lose market share to the Cubs.

jabrch
07-10-2007, 10:46 AM
It really worked out well, didn't it? I guess he WANTED to lose market share to the Cubs.

Yeah - that idea of paying for Television is terrible. It will never work.

DickAllen72
07-10-2007, 10:48 AM
Yeah - that idea of paying for Television is terrible. It will never work.
That totally misses the point. The fact is, where Sportsvision was concerned it didn't work. In fact it was a disaster.

jdm2662
07-10-2007, 10:49 AM
It really worked out well, didn't it? I guess he WANTED to lose market share to the Cubs.

It was actually a very good idea. However, it was five years too early. Cable TV wasn't even available in the city until 1985. Had he waited when cable TV became the norm, imagine how big it would be now. Sportschannel was a fantastic station before Fox took over. Had Einhorn held on to it and not sold it to the Dolan's, he would've looked like an inovative genious. Revenues would also be similar to the likes of the Yankees, Red Sox, and Mets thanks to their own cable station. Fenway can certainly attest to the success of NESN, which had similar issues when it was launched in its early days.

DickAllen72
07-10-2007, 10:52 AM
that was a lot of money back then for one cable channel :o:

You got that right. And it wasn't even a Cable channel. It was a scrambled signal over-the air UHF station that you needed to rent a converter box to descramble.

Many people built their own boxes from a kit to watch the games with crappy reception.

DickAllen72
07-10-2007, 11:00 AM
It was actually a very good idea. However, it was five years too early. Cable TV wasn't even available in the city until 1985. Had he waited when cable TV became the norm, imagine how big it would be now. Sportschannel was a fantastic station before Fox took over. Had Einhorn held on to it and not sold it to the Dolan's, he would've looked like an inovative genious. Revenues would also be similar to the likes of the Yankees, Red Sox, and Mets thanks to their own cable station. Fenway can certainly attest to the success of NESN, which had similar issues when it was launched in its early days.
We can speculate all we want with "if only this or that" but we know what really did happen.

In a city with two major league franchises competing for market share, one team let it's most popular broadcaster who was credited with saving the franchise a decade earlier go to the other team who was televising it's games on a free TV superstation. The first team decided it would charge it's fans a hefty price for those days to watch their telecast via a descrambled UHF signal that required a rented converter box sitting on top of their sets.

We know for a fact which team came out ahead.

DickAllen72
07-10-2007, 11:06 AM
Getting back to the original question, Hawk may have had the reputation of being an outspoken critic in Boston but he sure became a mouthpiece for ownership in Chicago, something Piersall would have never become.

The question is, "How did Einhorn know he could trust Hawk to be a company man?"

An interesting parallel is Harry Caray going from the Sox to the Cubs made the same conversion. My guess as to the answer is, with most people "money talks and bull**** walks." Hawk and Caray were bought off by their new bosses.

Fenway
07-10-2007, 11:17 AM
Harry was never fired by the White Sox, he jumped ship before they could.

Einhorn was insane it appears. He gave the Boston Globe this nugget.


Caray said he wants to be able to reach the shut-ins and people who may lack the financial ability to pay up to $20 a month to watch SportsVision, which is to be the White Sox' channel. Left unsaid is that his salary wentfrom $225,000 a year with the White Sox, where management was on the fence about retaining him anyway, to $275,000 a year with the Cubs.

Now Eddie Einhorn, the architect of the the White Sox' TV-radio plans, counters by observing that only about 50 of the 140 Cub games on WGN-TV will be telecast in prime time because the National League team plays all of its home games in daylight. So most of the time, Caray will be performing for a much smaller audience than in the past, while most White Sox games will be at night on the pay system.


Jack Craig of the Boston Globe who was the first TV Sports columnist anywhere saw it coming

The bold Einhorn is violating one of the cardinal rules of pay cable by making the channel available to barrooms at a cost of $100 a month, five times the price charged a household. The pay-cable industry's conventional wisdom is this: Never make an event available to viewers who will be paying someone else (i.e., for drinks) when that same event can be sold exclusively to private households, where pay cable would reap all the profits.

And collecting $100 monthly from virtually every barroom in the Windy City - few will dare to reject the sports programming - will produce that much more ready cash. Einhorn already is projecting an audience of 75,000 household subscribers at $20 a month by next April.

DickAllen72
07-10-2007, 11:22 AM
Harry was never fired by the White Sox, he jumped ship before they could.
Yes. As I've been repeating, Einhorn "let him go to the Cubs." Caray said he wants to be able to reach the shut-ins and people who may lack the financial ability to pay up to $20 a month to watch SportsVision, which is to be the White Sox' channel. Left unsaid is that his salary wentfrom $225,000 a year with the White Sox, where management was on the fence about retaining him anyway, to $275,000 a year with the Cubs.


Einhorn was insane it appears. He gave the Boston Globe this nugget.

Reading that does indicate that Einhorn didn't know what he was doing.


Jack Craig of the Boston Globe who was the first TV Sports columnist anywhere saw it coming
Most people at the time knew Einhorn and the Sox were making a big mistake.

chaerulez
07-10-2007, 11:32 AM
Really interesting stuff. Makes a lot of sense on the current situation though. The Cubs got insanely popular not just in Chicago but nationwide due to expose on a free superstation in the 1980's. The Sox meanwhile by trying to launch a pay station probably alienated a lot of their fans. Twenty bucks was really the stupidest part of the whole thing. They needed to charge about five. You can watch every single baseball game in Chicago with just basic cable today and that costs thirty bucks and you get about thirty channels.

Fenway
07-10-2007, 11:33 AM
Yes. As I've been repeating, Einhorn "let him go to the Cubs."


Reading that does indicate that Einhorn didn't know what he was doing.

Most people at the time knew Einhorn and the Sox were making a big mistake.

If he actually thought that more people would watch the White Sox on Sportsvision than the Cubs on WGN-TV he was completly bonkers.

I had SportsVision from Day 1 and when the installer came to put the antenna on the roof and give me the box I asked him how many SportsVision boxes he had installed. He said I was his FIRST one ( granted I was in Rogers Park )

The Red Sox would go to pay cable in 1984 and that was a disaster for 2 1/2 years as the cable company in the City of Boston (Cablevision) refused to pick up the service trying to make NESN go dark so the team would have to go to SportsChannel ( which they owned and had the Celtics)

Leigh Montville was worried if NESN would work and he used Chicago as the example. His words speak volumes.


An only consolation is that one of the first big pay-cable promotions took place last year in Chicago. The White Sox hired Ken Harrelson - remember him? - and Don Drysdale and put most of their games on the pay service. The team had a tremendous season, finishing in the playoffs.

I went to Comiskey Park for those playoff games, expecting to find pandemonium from a crowd that hadn't had a winner in decades. The crowd reaction was reserved.

"Why's this?" I asked.

"Nobody knows this team," I was told. "If you don't buy the cable, you don't see the games. People can't develop a passion for a team of players they've never watched."


Then the Perfect Storm hit in 1984. The Sox go from 99 to 74 wins, and Harry and the Cubs win the NL East on free WGN-TV. Plus WGN Superstation caught fire with a winning ballclub which was a better watch than the hapless Braves on WTBS.

SBSoxFan
07-10-2007, 11:37 AM
Really interesting stuff. Makes a lot of sense on the current situation though. The Cubs got insanely popular not just in Chicago but nationwide due to expose on a free superstation in the 1980's. The Sox meanwhile by trying to launch a pay station probably alienated a lot of their fans. Twenty bucks was really the stupidest part of the whole thing. They needed to charge about five. You can watch every single baseball game in Chicago with just basic cable today and that costs thirty bucks and you get about thirty channels.

You could watch the Bulls and Blackhawks on SportsVision too, something you couldn't do anywhere else as I recall. Did Einhorn's idea spawn the cable TV industry?

WGN didn't become a "superstation" until cable came along. Which, as you mentioned, is how the cubs became insanely popular.

Lip Man 1
07-10-2007, 11:39 AM
Some comments on this issue from various individuals and from various sources:

"With you or without you, the White Sox are going into SportsVision and away from free TV."– Eddie Einhorn to Harry Caray during contract negotiations. From the book ‘Miracle On 35th Street’ by Bob Logan. Pg. 144. Published 1983.

"If you want people to come, you can’t give the product away. That’s the way its been done everywhere else except Chicago for years. The best organizations, the ones that draw the most people at the gate, don’t go that way. They have limited TV." – Eddie Einhorn to Bob Logan. From the book ‘Miracle On 35th Street’ by Bob Logan. Pg. 148. Published 1983.

"Unfortunately, Chicago wasn't ready for us. There wasn't cable of any consequence, and we were on subscription pay-TV. I don't remember how many subscribers there were, but I know that more than that number went to Radio Shack and bought the parts for their own boxes." – Jerry Reinsdorf, September 20, 2004 at the luncheon promoting the start of the new Comcast Sports Network Chicago channel.

"We were a freak show. The fans thought Harry and Jimmy (Piersall) were the stars. Things were insane." - Eddie Einhorn to Bob Logan. From the book ‘Miracle On 35th Street’ by Bob Logan. Published 1983.

"They wanted to sign me again, but with SportsVision, the White Sox are the best kept secret in Chicago. If their games were on free TV, they’d own the town now and be a byword across the nation. I gave them some good advice at that contract meeting. I told them, ‘you guys came in as owners with a positive image and became villains by taking Jimmy (Piersall) out of the broadcast booth. Why don’t you get back in the fans’ good graces by putting us back together on the TV team’" Harry Caray to Bob Logan. From the book 'Miracle On 35th Street.' Published 1983.

Also in the PBS-TV documentary on Harry, 'Hello again everybody...' produced by Noel Gimble, it's stated that Caray turned down an offer for more money then the Cubs offered, to stay with the Sox for the 1982 season.

Finally for a complete look at 'SportsVision,' the history of sports broadcasting in Chicago, how games are delivered into your home and more direct quotes from the parties involved you may want to read 'SportsVision - The Legacy' Here's the link: http://www.whitesoxinteractive.com/rwas/index.php?category=2&id=2096

Lip

slavko
07-10-2007, 11:39 AM
Because Einhorn was totally incompetent and didn't know what he was doing?

I believe he made his money in Real Estate, so he obviously knew that field. But his plans for Pay TV "Sportsvision" for Sox games while the Cubs were free on superstation WGN, plus letting Harry Caray go to the Cubs and firing Jimmy Piersall show that he had no idea how to market a baseball team in a competitive major market city.

Then, on the night the Sox clinched the division in '83, he uses the occasion to say that this proves that Harry Caray and Jimmy Piersall are "scum." Classy move, Eddie.

A proud tradition of ownership that can't keep thier effing mouth shut. Do you think that Eddie might have lifted a few brews after the clincher, something he was not used to doing, and found himself with babbling lips? This is not to say that broadcasters being wildly popular positively means that one or both might not BE scum, but only a drunk or a fool or both would say it.

Irishsox1
07-10-2007, 11:41 AM
To put it into some context, baseball on television was nothing like it is now. The idea to put 162 games on tv in a market was seen as useless and most owners thought that it would hurt ticket sales. ESPN was seen as the dumbest idea, a 24 hour sport channel...how stupid.

ON-TV was a unique idea, but it was a horrible idea. It was the Sox, Blackhawks and Sting and for a high price and it was delivered over the air. Cable was offering a better picture (no more antennas!) and more programming, so in a way ON-TV was ahead of it's time in that you pay extra for sports, but it wasn't a superior product to what the Cubs were offering for free on WGN and it wasn't superior to cable.

Finally, after the WGN was put on Cable and broadcast around America and the rise of the new out of town "die-hard" Cubbie was born, Einhorn relented and SportsChannel went to cable with the occasional games on 32 and WGN.

If Einhorn could of done it over again, he should have kept the Sox on WGN had them broadcasted all over America (until MLB changed the rules on national broadcasting), mixed in with local uhf channels and then launched Sportschannel over cable in the late 80's, most likley the Sox would have a larger fan base.

Lip Man 1
07-10-2007, 11:45 AM
Eddie Einhorn did not call Harry Caray and Jimmy Piersall scum. Jerry Reinsdorf did that to Hawk Harrelson while he was doing a live postgame celebration interview the night the Sox clinched the division. (September 17, 1983.)

The interview was shown on then 'SportsChannel-Chicago' and by 'Superstation WGN' which received permission to show the 9th inning of the game and the celebrations in the locker room afterwards. I watched it from my station in Louisiana and I still have the tape from it.

You may be confusing Jerry's comments with the one Eddie made about running 'a first class operation' at the press conference where Veeck sold the club to them.

Lip

Lip Man 1
07-10-2007, 12:07 PM
Rather ironic that this thread on Hawk was started today...

July 11, 1985 - The Sox blow a game and lose to the Orioles in Baltimore 7 - 6. The loss would have long term consequences for the franchise because it eventually led to the firing of longtime G.M. Roland Hemond. With two outs and the Sox leading 6 - 3, Bob James, the team closer hurt his right knee. In came journeyman relief pitcher Mike Stanton who was picked up out of the minors a few weeks before. Stanton didn’t get a man out and gave up a three run game winning home run to Fred Lynn. Up in the broadcast booth, Sox announcers Don Drysdale and Ken "Hawk" Harrelson were openly questioning the organization if the ‘best’ they could do was Stanton. It planted the seed in the mind of ownership that a change was needed. That ‘change’ turned out to be Harrelson... named the new G.M. The rest as they say, is history.

Lip

DickAllen72
07-10-2007, 12:10 PM
Eddie Einhorn did not call Harry Caray and Jimmy Piersall scum. Jerry Reinsdorf did that to Hawk Harrelson while he was doing a live postgame celebration interview the night the Sox clinched the division. (September 17, 1983.)

The interview was shown on then 'SportsChannel-Chicago' and by 'Superstation WGN' which received permission to show the 9th inning of the game and the celebrations in the locker room afterwards. I watched it from my station in Louisiana and I still have the tape from it.

You may be confusing Jerry's comments with the one Eddie made about running 'a first class operation' at the press conference where Veeck sold the club to them.

Lip
Hmmmm. Maybe you're right. I thought it was Eddie, but I do remember one of them (Jerry or Eddie) saying "this just shows you what scum they are" about Harry and Jimmy during the clinching celebration immediately after the victory. I really found it tasteless at the time and it just soured the whole post game celebration for me.

soxinem1
07-10-2007, 12:14 PM
If memory serves me correctly, the cubs did not start to really draw until 1984. It was the White Sox who were the first to draw two million in 1983, and if they were able to sustain the success of 1983 a couple more years, we wouldn't even be having this conversation.

It was then that the marketing of the scrubs took off, and the back-to-earth Sox became bad guys again. That is when they should have done something, as by the 1985 season, the Sox were at their pre-1983 numbers.

Add to the fact that the 1982 White Sox were contenders most of the year, while the cubs didn't field one in ages. After the 1984 Sox flopped, the out-of-nowhere cubs picked up the winner-starved fans and never let go, so the cubs hyping Harry, a winning team, 'beautiful Wrigley', and free TV broadcasts have been embelished in our brains for over 20 years. Fast Eddie, in the mean time, stuck to his plan.

Also, ON-TV first aired only for four-five hours a day, and when Sportschannel was added, they scrambled over the signal until SC was given it's own cahnnel. Later, Sportsvision was added, and you had to pay more for having it in addition to ON-TV. I remember us having the three option switch on our box.

When Showtime (then a microwave frequency pay channel) and Spectrum (which went 24 hours, and later merged with ON-TV) jumped into the pay TV arena, ON-TV decided that adding the soft porn movie option 'Adults Only' was a good idea too, except that it also ticked off a lot of subscribers who had to again fork over another few bucks.

So initially, Einhorn's idea went well. It was post 1983 that went bad. And again, by having marketing idiots like Mike McClure working for the team, and doing nothing to claim a share in the market place for a LONG time, we find ourselves where we are today.

Fenway
07-10-2007, 12:21 PM
"If you want people to come, you can’t give the product away. That’s the way its been done everywhere else except Chicago for years. The best organizations, the ones that draw the most people at the gate, don’t go that way. They have limited TV." – Eddie Einhorn to Bob Logan. From the book ‘Miracle On 35th Street’ by Bob Logan. Pg. 148. Published 1983.



Certainly did wonders for the Blackhawks

Einhorn most certainly was using the LA Dodgers as that example. For years Walter O'Malley would only allow 11 road games a year to be televised ( all from San Francisco)

O'Malley wanted to televise LA Dodgers games on pay-tv in the 1960's but Hollywood was able to stop it. They were actually able to get a bill making pay-tv illegal in the State of California on the ballot in 1964 and votes approved it (http://www.scripophily.net/subtelistoje.html). The Supreme Court rules the attempt unconstitutional, but Subscription Television, Inc., by then loses $10 million and goes bankrupt.

O'Malley was bitter about how free TV had hurt the Dodgers in Brooklyn. In the 50's EVERY Dodgers, Giants and Yankees home game was on free tv as New York having 3 VHF non network stations (Channels 5, 9 and 11 ) begging for programming.

The Mets were the perfect example of how using FREE TV boosted sales. They started from scratch on Channel 9 in NY and became more popular than the Yankees almost overnight.

Noneck
07-10-2007, 01:19 PM
Rather ironic that this thread on Hawk was started today...

July 11, 1985 - The Sox blow a game and lose to the Orioles in Baltimore 7 - 6. The loss would have long term consequences for the franchise because it eventually led to the firing of longtime G.M. Roland Hemond. With two outs and the Sox leading 6 - 3, Bob James, the team closer hurt his right knee. In came journeyman relief pitcher Mike Stanton who was picked up out of the minors a few weeks before. Stanton didn’t get a man out and gave up a three run game winning home run to Fred Lynn. Up in the broadcast booth, Sox announcers Don Drysdale and Ken "Hawk" Harrelson were openly questioning the organization if the ‘best’ they could do was Stanton. It planted the seed in the mind of ownership that a change was needed. That ‘change’ turned out to be Harrelson... named the new G.M. The rest as they say, is history.

Lip

This time period was my Sox dark ages. I was very upset at new ownership pay per watch approach and also losing Harry and Jimmy. I listened to games during this period on the radio and went to very few games. Thanks Lip for letting me now know what was going on. I do have 2 questions tho: Are you saying that Harrelson questioned management on the air prior to him becoming GM? And after he came back to booth after his stint as GM , he became the Sox shill he is today?

Hitmen77
07-10-2007, 01:23 PM
According to the Dept. of Labor's website, today's equivalent of 1982's $21.95 is $47.30.

$47/month for only one channel to watch the Sox while the Cubs had ALL of their games for free on WGN. Genius!!! I like how they try to spin it now to say that they were just visionaries ahead of their time. No, they were just complete idiots. $47/month separate subscription for only one channel that showed nothing but the Sox, Hawks, and Bulls would be a disaster today too.

As some of you already said, moving to SportsVision and letting Harry escape to the Cubs effectively handed over an entire generation of Chicago fans over to the Cubs. 1983 kept the Sox competitive in this market at first, but 1984 totally sunk their market share. This was a monumental disaster for the Sox (....and of course the PR disasters kept coming: the new stadium/move to Florida fight in the late 80s, the strike in '94, and the White Flag trade in '97. Ouch.)

Only in recent years have the Sox scrambled back to close to even footing with the Cubs. Now, the Cubs have significantly cut back on their WGN broadcasts and both teams show games on a basic cable channel that reaches about 80%(?) of the homes in the Chicago market.

By the way, IIRC, the Sox didn't move ALL their games to SportsVision - they kept a small number of games on free TV broadcast on WFLD beginning in 1982. Does anyone remember how many games they had on free TV at that point?

Fenway
07-10-2007, 01:24 PM
By the way, IIRC, the Sox didn't move ALL their games to SportsVision - they kept a small number of games on free TV broadcast on WFLD beginning in 1982. Does anyone remember how many games they had on free TV at that point?

30 games on WFLD in 1982 ( about one a week )

Hitmen77
07-10-2007, 01:56 PM
To put it into some context, baseball on television was nothing like it is now. The idea to put 162 games on tv in a market was seen as useless and most owners thought that it would hurt ticket sales. ESPN was seen as the dumbest idea, a 24 hour sport channel...how stupid.



Actually, in 1982 the Chicago audience was quite used to having just about every Cubs and Sox game on free TV. At that point, the Cubs had been showing a vast majority of their games on WGN for years and the Sox had been showing a vast majority of their games on Channel 44 for years (until 1980).

Heading into the early 80s, the Cubs already had an edge over the Sox in this town. Einhorn vastly overestimated the value of the White Sox brand. He was crazy to think that a team that was already behind in Chicago's market share was going to get ahead by charging the equivalent of today's $47/month to watch a team that, quite frankly, hadn't exactly captured the heart of this town. I remember everyone laughing at the idea that the new Sox owners really thought people were going to pay that much money to watch their team on TV. The train wreck that happened is exactly what people thought was going to happen.

Fenway
07-10-2007, 02:12 PM
Actually, in 1982 the Chicago audience was quite used to having just about every Cubs and Sox game on free TV. At that point, the Cubs had been showing a vast majority of their games on WGN for years and the Sox had been showing a vast majority of their games on Channel 44 for years (until 1980).

Heading into the early 80s, the Cubs already had an edge over the Sox in this town. Einhorn vastly overestimated the value of the White Sox brand. He was crazy to think that a team that was already behind in Chicago's market share was going to get ahead by charging the equivalent of today's $47/month to watch a team that, quite frankly, hadn't exactly captured the heart of this town. I remember everyone laughing at the idea that the new Sox owners really thought people were going to pay that much money to watch their team on TV. The train wreck that happened is exactly what people thought was going to happen.

I arrived in Chicago in 1980 and I sensed the split to be close to 50-50. Even in 1983 Lee Elia was *****ing about the 3,000 fans who showed up at Wrigley.

I can remember vividly 2 games in early 1981.

I went to a White Sox Friday afternoon game with Boston ( it was Good Friday) and the attendance was 30,458. A week earlier on a SATURDAY, the Cubs second home game of the year and the Mets ( with Kingman ) the crowd was only 12,114

I remember watching Tim Wiegel do great coverage of the Sox home opener that year that drew 51,560 and I remember very well watching The Sox first game of the year when they were at Boston and Carlton Fisk homered in his very first game ( and got a standing ovation at Fenway )

Don't forget that Reinsdorf and Einhorn also jacked up ticket prices in 1982 and converted the upper deck into "Golden Boxes" complete with sunlamps. Their goal from Day 1 was to convert the North Shore crowd with money and didn't care squat about the traditional fanbase. It backfired badly.

kba
07-10-2007, 02:34 PM
Actually, in 1982 the Chicago audience was quite used to having just about every Cubs and Sox game on free TV. At that point, the Cubs had been showing a vast majority of their games on WGN for years and the Sox had been showing a vast majority of their games on Channel 44 for years (until 1980).

By '82, though, the Sox didn't have a lot of options for putting their whole schedule of games on free TV. Channel 44 had dumped them at the end of the 1980 season to clear air time for ON-TV. WGN, of course, was committed to running a full slate of Cubs games, WCIU was a Spanish station in those days, and WFLD was interested only in a limited schedule.

The 1981 TV deal - the last one Bill Veeck negotiated - was for a limited schedule of Sox games on WGN and a few on suburban cable systems. Even before Einhorn and Sportsvision were in the picture, the era of free Sox games on TV every night had already ended.

jabrch
07-10-2007, 02:35 PM
The depths that some will sink to berate management is beyond me.

Noneck
07-10-2007, 03:00 PM
The depths that some will sink to berate management is beyond me.

If I didn't live through the era as an adult that is being discussed, I would probably feel the same way you do. I am sure that nothing I can tell you or that others can would change your mind. But at least you should realize what was done by management during that time period has affected Sox fans to this day. The carry over effect may not be totally justified but still bothers many. Only 05 put the past behind many of us.

johnr1note
07-10-2007, 03:38 PM
If I didn't live through the era as an adult that is being discussed, I would probably feel the same way you do. I am sure that nothing I can tell you or that others can would change your mind. But at least you should realize what was done by management during that time period has affected Sox fans to this day. The carry over effect may not be totally justified but still bothers many. Only 05 put the past behind many of us.

There is great truth in the above statement. My father was a season ticket holder for the White Sox starting around 1961, and my brothers and I carried on the tradition in a package with my father beginning in the late 1980s.

A lot of the changes Reinsdorf's ownership group made were very positive. The renovation of the park, and the signing of marquee free agents like Carlton Fisk and the acquisition of other players such as Greg Luzinski and the farm system finally producing made being a Sox fan exciting.

But there are several things Reinsdorf did that hastened the decline of the Sox being the more popular team in Chicago (which they were in my childhood in the late 50s and most of the 1960s).

First was the stupidity in the creation of Sportsvision -- cable TV without the cable, allowing the most popular baseball personality in the city to move to the other team's broadcast booth. This was probably the worst decision in the recent history of the team.

Second, was the threat to move the team to Florida. We were among many fans who cancelled our season ticket prior to the final year at old Comiskey because, as my Dad put it, "You don't take your wife out to dinner when she's suing you for divorce."

Then, when the Stadium deal came through, we were unable to obtain decent seats, and were lost in the shuffle to be part of the "brand new, old fashioned fun." The stadium proved to be sterile, and poorly designed in the upper deck, where we wound up sitting with out new season ticket package. Customer service for the new park was appalling. It would not improve until the Sox won the division in 1993.

Finally, Reinsdorf's role in orchestrating the lockout in 1994 has been, and continues to be, an almost unforgivable event when the Sox appeared destined to win it all that year. My Father cancelled his season tickets at that time, and has never been back to the park. Even when the Sox won the World Series. Its sad, but when you add all that up, even the World Series win isn't enough for fans like my Dad, who view JR as the man who screwed them three times in a decade.

my5thbench
07-10-2007, 03:43 PM
that's some interesting stuff....we gotta' love the Hawkaroo as our "homer"

TDog
07-10-2007, 04:00 PM
...
An interesting parallel is Harry Caray going from the Sox to the Cubs made the same conversion. My guess as to the answer is, with most people "money talks and bull**** walks." Hawk and Caray were bought off by their new bosses.

I think this is the first post to acknowledge the Cubs Harry Caray wasn't the same as the White Sox Harry Caray. Some people here complain that the White Sox driving away Harry Caray made Chicago a Cubs town. Harry Caray used to say on the air when he was doing Sox games that there is no way the White Sox can ever expect to draw as many fans as the Cubs. He used to tell people not to bother to come to the ballpark because the White Sox were playing bad baseball. White Sox players hated him. He got into fights with players. Former Cardinal Curt Flood, in his autobiography, wrote that he imagined Harry Caray would be put out of his misery by a player who couldn't take any more of him. And Harry Caray grew up a Cardinals fan.

Many White Sox fans hated Harry Caray. In 1973, I think, Stu Holcomb showed me a stack of hate mail directed demanding Harry Caray be fired. It's true that many fans loved Harry Caray, but you don't have to spend much time at WSI to understand that many Sox fans seem to love to hate their team.

Harry Caray signed with the Cubs for the big bucks and an agreement not to criticize the team. If he had any integrity as a human being, he lost it there. He sold himself out to be in a league he thought was the superior league for a team that played day baseball at home so he could get plastered on Rush Street every night.

The White Sox never drew 2 million until Harry Caray had gone, in 1983, when the Sox came within two games of going to the World Series. And the Cubs didn't draw 2 million until a year later, in 1984 when they came within one game of going to the World Series. By that time, Harry Caray was a company man, a cheerleading shill.

I'm not sure if letting Harry Caray go to the Cubs was a bigger mistake than keeping him would have been.

DickAllen72
07-10-2007, 04:13 PM
No Sox fan that I personally knew hated Harry--we all loved him and Jimmy.

I'm not disputing anything you posted however, just stating what went on in my circles.

What cannot be disputed was that when Harry was doing the Sox games, there was nobody who did baseball play-by-play better. The man excelled at what he did and he was at the top of his game. The Harry Caray that announced for the Cubs was a poor shadow of his former self and he did "sell out" and become a Cubs cheerleader/shill.

BTW, I personally don't remember Caray teling Sox fans they would never outdraw the Cubs and not to bother going to the games. The Cubs weren't drawing much at all in those days.

I remember Harry telling the fans to come on out because "you can't beat fun at the old ballpark" and I remember him broadcasting from the CF bleachers to get fans to sit out there.

jabrch
07-10-2007, 04:36 PM
If I didn't live through the era as an adult that is being discussed, I would probably feel the same way you do. I am sure that nothing I can tell you or that others can would change your mind. But at least you should realize what was done by management during that time period has affected Sox fans to this day. The carry over effect may not be totally justified but still bothers many. Only 05 put the past behind many of us.

I never gave a damn what anyone else thought about the Sox. I don't care if the Cubs have more or less fans than the Sox do. I care about three Sox fans - me and my 2 kids. The rest of the world, and their opinion on the Sox is irrlevant to me.

Eddie Einhorn is a business man. He made an investment in pay-television that didn't work only because he was a few years ahead of everyone. Kudos to EE for having the vision to do it.

Now people come here and question Einhorn's knowledge of the broadcasting world? The guy forgot more about broadcasting than most of us have ever known. People ***** about him as an owner? It's bull****.

TDog
07-10-2007, 04:38 PM
...

BTW, I personally don't remember Caray teling Sox fans they would never outdraw the Cubs and not to bother going to the games. The Cubs weren't drawing much at all in those days.

I remember Harry telling the fans to come on out because "you can't beat fun at the old ballpark" and I remember him broadcasting from the CF bleachers to get fans to sit out there.

I can give you a specific date and instance when Harry Caray said the Sox would never outdraw the Cubs. On July 29, 1972, with the Sox playing great baseball, just six games behind Oakland the White Sox were surging, about 10 games above .500. They played a Saturday afternoon game at Comiskey. In a quirk of the schedule, the Cubs were playing at the same time in Wrigley. Since before the All-Star break, which made that Saturday a getaway day for the Sox, Harry Caray had been talking about how the Sox fans could show their support and outdraw the Cubs. He lamented that it probably wouldn't happen, even though the Cubs were just a .500 team. Comiskey was nearly empty that day. It was an exciting game. The Sox won in the bottom of the ninth. With two out and the score tied at 3, Carlos May was hit by a pitch, stole second and scored the winning run on a single by Ed Spezio.

The stadium looked empty. Officially, the Sox drew about 7,000. The Cubs drew over 30,000. Harry Caray spent most to the game and some of his wrapup by saying no one should have expected people to come out to see the Sox when the Cubs were in town. The banner headline on the Tribune sports page the next day had the Cubs beating the Sox with the more than four-to-one attendance margin.

There were other times in Harry Caray's tenure with the White Sox that he said on the air that Chicago would always be a Cubs town. And while he said "you can't beat fun at the old ballpark" and sometimes said "at least come to see the other teams," he also occasionally said when things were going bad that he didn't see any reason for people to pay to see the White Sox.

He thought he was bigger than the players. The unfortunate thing was that many Sox fans probably agreed with him.

Fenway
07-10-2007, 04:39 PM
The proposed Florida move was all about cable TV as well. Einhorn claimed the Sox would command the best TV deal in MLB. Florida was the next California. How wrong he was.

russ99
07-10-2007, 04:41 PM
No Sox fan that I personally knew hated Harry--we all loved him and Jimmy.

I'm not disputing anything you posted however, just stating what went on in my circles.

What cannot be disputed was that when Harry was doing the Sox games, there was nobody who did baseball play-by-play better. The man excelled at what he did and he was at the top of his game. The Harry Caray that announced for the Cubs was a poor shadow of his former self and he did "sell out" and become a Cubs cheerleader/shill.

BTW, I personally don't remember Caray teling Sox fans they would never outdraw the Cubs and not to bother going to the games. The Cubs weren't drawing much at all in those days.

I remember Harry telling the fans to come on out because "you can't beat fun at the old ballpark" and I remember him broadcasting from the CF bleachers to get fans to sit out there.

I absolutely agree, even though I was a kid at the time. Everyone loved Harry & Jimmy.

It seems to me that the ownership change from Veeck to Reinsdorf meant the switch in focus from strictly entertaining the fans (in some pretty crazy ways!) to strictly a money-making enterprise, but Veeck was always a showman.

I also don't think Harry/Jimmy and Reinsdorf/Einhorn could have co-existed for very long. They would have been fired for telling it like it is.

Hitmen77
07-10-2007, 04:57 PM
I never gave a damn what anyone else thought about the Sox. I don't care if the Cubs have more or less fans than the Sox do. I care about three Sox fans - me and my 2 kids. The rest of the world, and their opinion on the Sox is irrlevant to me.

Eddie Einhorn is a business man. He made an investment in pay-television that didn't work only because he was a few years ahead of everyone. Kudos to EE for having the vision to do it.

Now people come here and question Einhorn's knowledge of the broadcasting world? The guy forgot more about broadcasting than most of us have ever known. People ***** about him as an owner? It's bull****.

So, now anyone who says the SportsVision move was a colossal failure is "sinking to new depths"?

I guess we may as well shut down this site because if we can't give an honest opinion on that move, then we can't criticize anything the Sox ever do.

jabrch
07-10-2007, 04:59 PM
It seems to me that the ownership change from Veeck to Reinsdorf meant the switch in focus from strictly entertaining the fans (in some pretty crazy ways!) to strictly a money-making enterprise


Under Veeck, this team never won crap. (he took over in 59 the first time, and destroyed a WS team). We made ZERO post season appearances after that under Veeck. If that's how fans want to be entertained, then good for them. Under EE/JR this team has been competitive nearly every year, and a winner. Under Veeck, we were losers quite a bit.

EE/JR didn't buy this team to be a "money-making enterprize". They both would have made much more money than they did with the Sox in their other outside interests. This is one of the biggest myths amongst Sox fans is that JR/EE are pocketing money hand over fist.

jabrch
07-10-2007, 05:08 PM
So, now anyone who says the SportsVision move was a colossal failure is "sinking to new depths"?


No - not what I said.

There are some posters though that will completely avoid any facts to deliver an uninformed negative opinion about different branches of management.

I guess we may as well shut down this site because if we can't give an honest opinion on that move, then we can't criticize anything the Sox ever do.

No - not what I said either.

I don't care what your opinion is on pay TV, but it is completely out of line to
accuse EE of being incompetent and not know what he was doing. It is out of line to continue to say these guys are lining their pockets. It is wrong to misquote them with the "scum" line. It is wrong to say they wanted guys they could push around - when they brought in Hawk after his days in Boston.

Have an opinion. Criticize whomever you want. But have some correct facts behind it instead of just hate for ownership and management.

TDog
07-10-2007, 05:18 PM
Under Veeck, this team never won crap. (he took over in 59 the first time, and destroyed a WS winner). We made ZERO post season appearances after that under Veeck. If that's how fans want to be entertained, then good for them. Under EE/JR this team has been competitive nearly every year, and a winner. Under Veeck, we were losers quite a bit.

EE/JR didn't buy this team to be a "money-making enterprize". They both would have made much more money than they did with the Sox in their other outside interests. This is one of the biggest myths amongst Sox fans is that JR/EE are pocketing money hand over fist.

Strange, though, that the fans loved Veeck. His first time around, he was interested in showing he could build a winner from scratch, which he didn't. He took apart the team that He did some things the fans liked that actually hurt the team's chances in the future. For example, he brought back Minnie Minoso at the expense of Johnny Romano, Norm Cash and Bubba Phillips.

His second time around, he didn't have a chance to build a winner because the rules had changed. He didn't have the money. Even in 1977, the Sox finished in third place with players who were playing for free agent contracts with teams that would pay what the market would bear in 1978. Reinsdorf and Einhorm came in with a group with interests that included building a winner. And there aren't many White Sox teams that were better than the 1983 team. They signed Carlton Fisk and Floyd Bannister. They purchased Greg Luzinski. Veeck "rented" players he couldn't afford to keep and signed free agents like Royle Stillman.

Lip Man 1
07-10-2007, 05:27 PM
Lots of points to address:

Soxinem 1: You say that SportsVision was a success after 1983. I guess that depends on your definition of success. Logan's book says that the Sox expected 50,000 subscribers...again according to Logan they got roughly 20 thousand of them.

Noneck: Hawk wasn't criticizing ownership, he was commenting on the job the general manager was doing (along with Don) and was perplexed that the 'best' the Sox could do was Mike Stanton.

In fairness, and I'll have to ask Roland about this, this was the period of time when ownership decided to pull back in their aggressive approach to acquiring talent. I remember reading a comment from JR in 1984 (I'll try to find it) about the 'cost' of winning. Plus collusion was apparently in place. Mike Stanton may in fact been the 'best' that he could get due to the limitations placed upon him.

Hitmen: During the period of the early 80's, the Sox showed roughly 30-35 games on free-TV. WFLD-TV. The Cubs were still showing close to 100 games since they didn't have any prime time limitations like they did in the new century imposed by the Tribune Company / CW agreement.

KBA: Einhorn overturned Veeck's deal with Cablevision which netted the Sox a paltry 6,000 dollars per game. I have more specifics on this in the SportsVision-The Legacy story on the web site.

T-Dog: Chicago was NOT always a 'Cubs-town.' See the 1950's and throughout the mid 60's. In 16 of 17 seasons starting in 1951 the Sox drew more fans then the Cubs to the park. The Sox got the lion's share of media attention for one simple reason, they were usually in a pennant race and had a number of nationally recognized players on the club.

Regarding Eddie Einhorn, the television executive. There are very few people who had the depth of knowledge of the business and knew what was going on in it then him. An upcoming interview for WSI (already sent to George) has the subject, a former Sox broadcaster talking about Eddie in glowing terms.

About the only 'bad' things that I can think Eddie wishes he had over again were the 'trashsports' that he created in the mid 70's (The World's Strongest Man Compitition,) his association with the late World Football League and 'SportsVision' which as others have noted was a very good idea that was ahead of its time and started in the wrong location because of the two teams in Chicago. Had their only been one club it would have worked because fans wouldn't have had a choice.

Lip

jabrch
07-10-2007, 05:30 PM
Lots of points to address:

Soxinem 1: You say that SportsVision was a success after 1983. I guess that depends on your definition of success. Logan's book says that the Sox expected 50,000 subscribers...again according to Logan they got roughly 20 thousand of them.

Noneck: Hawk wasn't criticizing ownership, he was commenting on the job the general manager was doing (along with Don) and was perplexed that the 'best' the Sox could do was Mike Stanton.

In fairness, and I'll have to ask Roland about this, this was the period of time when ownership decided to pull back in their aggressive approach to acquiring talent. I remember reading a comment from JR in 1984 (I'll try to find it) about the 'cost' of winning. Plus collusion was apparently in place. Mike Stanton may in fact been the 'best' that he could get due to the limitations placed upon him.

Hitmen: During the period of the early 80's, the Sox showed roughly 30-35 games on free-TV. WFLD-TV. The Cubs were still showing close to 100 games since they didn't have any prime time limitations like they did in the new century imposed by the Tribune Company / CW agreement.

KBA: Einhorn overturned Veeck's deal with Cablevision which netted the Sox a paltry 6,000 dollars per game. I have more specifics on this in the SportsVision-The Legacy story on the web site.

T-Dog: Chicago was NOT always a 'Cubs-town.' See the 1950's and throughout the mid 60's. In 16 of 17 seasons starting in 1951 the Sox drew more fans then the Cubs to the park. The Sox got the lion's share of media attention for one simple reason, they were usually in a pennant race and had a number of nationally recognized players on the club.

Regarding Eddie Einhorn, the television executive. There are very few people who had the depth of knowledge of the business and knew what was going on in it then him. An upcoming interview for WSI (already sent to George) has the subject, a former Sox broadcaster talking about Eddie in glowing terms.

About the only 'bad' things that I can think Eddie wishes he had over again were the 'trashsports' that he created in the mid 70's (The World's Strongest Man Compition), his association with the late World Football League and 'SportsVision' which as others have noted was a very good idea that was ahead of its time and started in the wrong location because of the two teams in Chicago. Had their only been one club it would have worked because fans wouldn't have had a choice.

Lip


Great post Lip. Really solid. I totally agree with your last point. Sportsvision was a great idea that was a few years early, and probably in the wrong town.

jabrch
07-10-2007, 05:32 PM
Strange, though, that the fans loved Veeck.

I think (and I will defer to those older and wiser than me) that this was because Veeck was a clown, or was likely to bring in and support clownish activities, not because he was likely to bring them a winner.

If today's fans call JR and EE cheap and all about making money, they'd have TORCHED Veeck.

I'm glad Mike Veeck did his thing in St. Paul. The family antics are much more suited for that environment than for the big show.

Lip Man 1
07-10-2007, 05:41 PM
Bill's appeal was to the 'common fan,' I nicknamed him 'the patron saint of the common fan,' he genuinely appreciated fans and their loyalty to the club that he owned at the time.

That part wasn't contrived or phoney.

Many including Sox historian Rich Lindberg have strongly criticized Veeck's ownership days... the first time because he gutted the farm system over 'pride,' (although that's doing him a disservice, there was more to it then that) and the second time for not having the capital to produce a winner.

What's bizarre about his second ownership tenure was that he DID have the money to get whatever talent he wanted. Veeck's group was made up of some the wealthiest people in Chicago and in the nation. Bill however never would go to them asking for funds to invest in the team. In that case it was about his pride, he was determined to give his investing partners at least a break even situation every year of his ownership. And he did accomplish that.

Lip

Fenway
07-10-2007, 05:44 PM
EE had a vision but he jumped the gun. 5 years later when Chicago homes were wired it would have worked better especially with the Bulls getting good. Pay TV has humbled some of the best minds in broadcasting. Charles Dolan invented HBO and was the first to make regional sports networks work but he was burnt by the biggest blunder in cable history, the 1992 Olympics Triplecast concept he sold NBC on.

DickAllen72
07-10-2007, 05:54 PM
It is wrong to misquote them with the "scum" line. It is wrong to say they wanted guys they could push around - when they brought in Hawk after his days in Boston.

Have an opinion. Criticize whomever you want. But have some correct facts behind it instead of just hate for ownership and management.
Sounds like you're referring to me there.

I did not misquote "them" on the "scum" line. I simply mixed up Eddie with Jerry on who said it. The quote is accurate and it was said during the clinch night celebration in '83.

Also I never said they wanted guys they could "push around" when they got Hawk. I speculated that they brought Hawk in because although he had a reputation for being an outspoken critic of ownership they could get him to be a company man whereas there was no chance at all of doing that with Piersall. Seems like it turned out exactly that way.

And just for the record I don't "hate" ownership or management of the Sox. I love Kenny Williams as GM and I think JR deserves credit for hiring him. I also have observed that JR seems to inspire tremendous loyalty from many of his employees, so he can't be all bad--apparently he must be a good guy.

Still EE and JR did a lot of things wrong since buying the Sox like the Sportsvision debacle, letting the popular Harry Caray go to the arch-rival Cubs, using the clinching of the division as a platform to call Caray and Piersall "scum", hiring Hawk as a GM in place of Hemond (what a disaster that was), etc. These are facts.

I also resent the way they threatened to move to Florida unless the taxpayers of Illinois funded their new stadium. Then, the stadium as originally designed was seriously flawed.

All this said, if you look at a history of my posts you'll find that I'm not a JR/Sox management basher. I call 'em as I see 'em, giving them credit for their sucesses and calling them on their mistakes.

DickAllen72
07-10-2007, 05:59 PM
'SportsVision' which as others have noted was a very good idea that was ahead of its time and started in the wrong location because of the two teams in Chicago. Had their only been one club it would have worked because fans wouldn't have had a choice.

Lip
Yep.

TDog
07-10-2007, 06:04 PM
...
T-Dog: Chicago was NOT always a 'Cubs-town.' See the 1950's and throughout the mid 60's. In 16 of 17 seasons starting in 1951 the Sox drew more fans then the Cubs to the park. The Sox got the lion's share of media attention for one simple reason, they were usually in a pennant race and had a number of nationally recognized players on the club. ...

I didn't say I believed Chicago was always a Cubs town. The Cubs gained the upper hand in 1967, although the Sox just missed going to the World Series. Attendance that year was almost even. The Cubs were resurgent and the White Sox were considered "boring." For the most part, the Cubs have had the upper hand since. The Sox have been strong when they are doing well. The Cubs remain popular even when they finish in last place.

However, I do believe that Harry Caray believed that Chicago was always a Cubs town, just as St. Louis was always a Cardinals city. This may or may not be true, although in fact the Browns did move to Baltimore and the White Sox have been rumored to leave Chicago a few times wince the late 1960s. My point wasn't to argue that Chicago was a Cubs town, but that Harry Caray displayed his National League prejudice in stating that Chicago was a Cubs town, even when he was announcing for the White Sox.

And I have no doubt that when he came to the AL and was announcing games for Oakland in 1970, and the Sox were dropping 16 of 18 games to the A's, he believed that Chicago was a Cubs town.

Fenway
07-10-2007, 06:11 PM
No Sox fan should bash Veeck for his 76-80 years because if Mayor Daley doesn't get him to rescue the team today you would be rooting for the Chicago A's. The WS would be in Denver or Toronto and Finley would have bailed from Oakland to 35th St.

IowaSox1971
07-10-2007, 06:13 PM
Bill's appeal was to the 'common fan,' I nicknamed him 'the patron saint of the common fan,' he genuinely appreciated fans and their loyalty to the club that he owned at the time.

That part wasn't contrived or phoney.

Many including Sox historian Rich Lindberg have strongly criticized Veeck's ownership days... the first time because he gutted the farm system over 'pride,' (although that's doing him a disservice, there was more to it then that) and the second time for not having the capital to produce a winner.

What's bizarre about his second ownership tenure was that he DID have the money to get whatever talent he wanted. Veeck's group was made up of some the wealthiest people in Chicago and in the nation. Bill however never would go to them asking for funds to invest in the team. In that case it was about his pride, he was determined to give his investing partners at least a break even situation every year of his ownership. And he did accomplish that.

Lip


I think the criticism of Veeck's first stint with the Sox is unfair. It was unrealistic to expect the Sox to repeat as AL champs in 1960, unless they made some major moves, because the Yankees were basically using the Kansas City Athletics' roster as a minor-league affiliate in those times.

The Athletics, for example, basically gave the Yankees Roger Maris for practically nothing, so the Sox had to acquire guys like Minoso, Sievers and Freese to have any chance to repeat. The 1960 Sox team was only about two games out with about a dozen to play before fading in the final week or two. I think Minoso, Sievers and Freese all had decent seasons in 1960, so the deals Veeck made should not be criticized as horrible trades.

We had 35 one-run victories while winning the 1959 AL pennant, while the Yankees had endured an injury-riddled season, and the odds were that we weren't going to have the same amount of good luck in 1960. If we had chosen to stand pat, it's doubtful we would have won the pennant in 1960 or 1961 anyhow. (Does anybody think we would have won 110 games in 1961 to beat out the Yankees of Maris and Mantle if we had kept our prospects?) This revisionist history is unfair to Veeck, especially since some of the bad moves that haunted us in the 1960s (such as choosing to keep Bruce Howard instead of Denny McClain) took place long after Veeck sold the team.

In Veeck's second ownership tenure, the arbitrator's decision that opened the door for free agency took place about a month after Veeck bought the team. Veeck purchased the team in 1975 under one set of rules while no one could have had any idea how much the economics of the game would change.

DickAllen72
07-10-2007, 06:14 PM
And I have no doubt that when he came to the AL and was announcing games for Oakland in 1970, and the Sox were dropping 16 of 18 games to the A's, he believed that Chicago was a Cubs town.
In 1970 the Sox went 56-106 while the Cubs were coming off their magical '69 season. I remember going to Sox games that year buying tickets at the gate just minutes before game time and getting your choice of just about any seats in the house. So yeah, in 1970 Chicago was a Cub's town but just a couple of years later the Sox had "risen" in large part due to Harry Caray and also Dick Allen.

Noneck
07-10-2007, 06:27 PM
I think (and I will defer to those older and wiser than me) that this was because Veeck was a clown, or was likely to bring in and support clownish activities, not because he was likely to bring them a winner.

If today's fans call JR and EE cheap and all about making money, they'd have TORCHED Veeck.

I'm glad Mike Veeck did his thing in St. Paul. The family antics are much more suited for that environment than for the big show.

I know Lip has already addressed this and I am in agreement with him but in no way was Veeck ever looked upon as a clown. Yes his promotions could be strange but as a person he was looked upon as a regular guy that cared about the fans. He was assessable to the fans at the park and took pride in that. He had his run ins with Harry and Jimmy but faced them. Finally, If Veeck would have did a white flag season or threatened to move the club because of stadium financing he may have been torched as current ownership was but he didn't, and is highly regarded by many fans from that era and should be recognized by the current ownership as integral part in Sox history. But as you should be able to see the current ownership holds a grudge toward Caray and Veeck similar to the grudge many fans still hold toward current ownership. It is a two way street and should be traveled by both parties.

TDog
07-10-2007, 06:28 PM
In 1970 the Sox went 56-106 while the Cubs were coming off their magical '69 season. I remember going to Sox games that year buying tickets at the gate just minutes before game time and getting your choice of just about any seats in the house. So yeah, in 1970 Chicago was a Cub's town but just a couple of years later the Sox had "risen" in large part due to Harry Caray and also Dick Allen.

It wasn't just 1970. I fully believe Harry Caray believed Chicago was a Cubs town in the 1950s because of his NL prejudice.

Roland Hemond and Chuck Tanner had a lot more to do with the popularity of the White Sox in 1972 than Harry Caray. People listened to Harry Caray because of the team. The team brought fans into the park and I even sat in the centerfield bleachers one game that he was announcing. I stood at the base of the scoreboard cheering when the fireworks went off for Luis Alvarado's inside-the-park home run.

But despite the Sox contending and the love for Dick Allen and the love for Harry Caray, when the two teams played at the same time on a beautiful Saturday afternoon in July 1972, the Cubs drew more than four times as many people. What bothered me most was Harry Caray belabored that point on that Saturday and later in the season. I also heard him talking about it the next season when he was complaining about attendance.

Lip Man 1
07-10-2007, 06:41 PM
Iowa:

Your comments on the 1960 White Sox led me to tell you that I'm sending a column to George in the next few days that I think you'll enjoy reading.

It goes into detail about the farm system deals, why they were made, whom Bill originally was going after and the long term ramifications.

Lip

DickAllen72
07-10-2007, 06:43 PM
But despite the Sox contending and the love for Dick Allen and the love for Harry Caray, when the two teams played at the same time on a beautiful Saturday afternoon in July 1972, the Cubs drew more than four times as many people. What bothered me most was Harry Caray belabored that point on that Saturday and later in the season. I also heard him talking about it the next season when he was complaining about attendance.
Was he saying this as a challenge to Sox fans to come out and support their team or was he just on one of his drunken tirades?

Remember the old, "Let's see, he's one out of his last eight, two out of his last nineteen, three out of his last twentyseven..." rants when he was frustrated at a Sox hitter in a major slump? Ahhh memories.....:D:

DickAllen72
07-10-2007, 06:46 PM
I even sat in the centerfield bleachers one game that he was announcing. I stood at the base of the scoreboard cheering when the fireworks went off for Luis Alvarado's inside-the-park home run.

Cool. It's great to see fans here who were around in those days. I loved those days to death! :cheers:

Noneck
07-10-2007, 06:50 PM
Was he saying this as a challenge to Sox fans to come out and support their team or was he just on one of his drunken tirades?

Remember the old, "Let's see, he's one out of his last eight, two out of his last nineteen, three out of his last twentyseven..." rants when he was frustrated at a Sox hitter in a major slump? Ahhh memories.....:D:

Alot more of those memories will be with me the 2nd half of this year. Imagining how Harry would be saying the same things that Sox fans will be screaming at the TV rather than the wishful thinking dribble we get now.

Brian26
07-10-2007, 06:52 PM
Because Einhorn was totally incompetent and didn't know what he was doing?

I believe he made his money in Real Estate, so he obviously knew that field.

Wrong.

DickAllen72
07-10-2007, 06:53 PM
Alot more of those memories will be with me the 2nd half of this year. Imagining how Harry would be saying the same things that Sox fans will be screaming at the TV rather than the wishful thinking dribble we get now.
You bring up a good point. When the Sox were going bad back in the day, it was fun listening to Harry and Jimmy. Today when the Sox are doing poorly, Hawk becomes unbearable to listen to, repeating the same crap over and over.

Brian26
07-10-2007, 06:53 PM
The franchise is still suffering from his decisions to let Caray go to the Cubs and his pay TV Sportsvision fiasco.

Wrong.

If only MLB would have allowed DeBartolo to buy the Sox.....

...They now be the Colorado White Sox.

DickAllen72
07-10-2007, 06:54 PM
Wrong.
A little late to the party I see. :wink:

Brian26
07-10-2007, 06:55 PM
Originally the place wasn't too great.

Right. It would have been much better to keep playing in Old Comiskey until it literally fell down on top of the fans inside. New Comiskey was a breath of fresh air the day it opened.

DickAllen72
07-10-2007, 06:55 PM
Wrong.



...They now be the Colorado White Sox.
I thought it was the New Orleans Sox. Anyway, we were almost the Florida Sox and that didn't happen either.

Brian26
07-10-2007, 06:56 PM
A little late to the party I see. :wink:

No, I saw your mistakes earlier, but I'm just now getting a chance to respond. :D:

DickAllen72
07-10-2007, 06:56 PM
Right. It would have been much better to keep playing in Old Comiskey until it literally fell down on top of the fans inside. New Comiskey was a breath of fresh air the day it opened.
Who said that? Context my friend, context.

DickAllen72
07-10-2007, 07:00 PM
No, I saw your mistakes earlier, but I'm just now getting a chance to respond. :D:
My mistake actually made EE look better than what is the case. I thought he screwed up the television marketing because he was out of his field. Turns out he was an expert in TV and still was responsible for the whole Sportsvision fiasco.

My other mistake was crediting EE with the "scum" line when actually it was JR who said it.

Brian26
07-10-2007, 07:05 PM
According to the Dept. of Labor's website, today's equivalent of 1982's $21.95 is $47.30.

$47/month for only one channel to watch the Sox while the Cubs had ALL of their games for free on WGN. Genius!!! I like how they try to spin it now to say that they were just visionaries ahead of their time. No, they were just complete idiots. $47/month separate subscription for only one channel that showed nothing but the Sox, Hawks, and Bulls would be a disaster today too.

However, you're thinking in terms of today's entertainment options. 1982 was years before 300+ channels of Directv and Dish, years before the MLB extra-innings package, and years before the internet. Entertaintment-wise, it may or may not have been worth the $50 a month to be able to see White Sox games, but they certainly could get away with charging that because people weren't spending their money on other baseball/entertainment related items.

Brian26
07-10-2007, 07:06 PM
My mistake actually made EE look better than what is the case. I thought he screwed up the television marketing because he was out of his field. Turns out he was an expert in TV and still was responsible for the whole Sportsvision fiasco.

My other mistake was crediting EE with the "scum" line when actually it was JR who said it.

I didn't mean to give you a hard time. This is actually one of the best threads ever on WSI. The history of the Sportsvision fiasco is entertaining reading.

TornLabrum
07-10-2007, 07:16 PM
Wrong.



...They now be the Colorado White Sox.

It was Marvin Davis who wanted to move the Sox to Denver, not DeBartolo.

DickAllen72
07-10-2007, 07:23 PM
I didn't mean to give you a hard time. This is actually one of the best threads ever on WSI. The history of the Sportsvision fiasco is entertaining reading.
It's all cool. I'm enjoying this thread as well.

I may be coming off as really being anti JR/EE in this thread but that's only because the subject matter being discussed here is about things they did in the past that I really had a problem with.

I think the Sox ownership, JR in particular has really grown and improved over the years. Normally since I've been on this board I don't engage in too much criticism of Sox upper management because quite frankly in the past few years they have done a great job and I'll forever be thankful for the 2005 World Series.

I've always been a big fan of KW and you could see the bond of loyalty between KW and JR and also between JR and Ozzie as well as most of the other Sox employees which indicates that JR must be a really good person. *******s don't generate that kind of loyalty in their organizations.

Being an "old time" Sox fan however, I still harbor resentment over those dark days in the early eighties which I believe is the major cause for the Sox' second fiddle status to the Cubs to this day.

BTW, the only reason I mentioned DeBartolo is I believe he would have spent a lot of money back then much like Steinbrenner did later with the Yankees, to completely dominate this town.

DickAllen72
07-10-2007, 07:26 PM
However, you're thinking in terms of today's entertainment options. 1982 was years before 300+ channels of Directv and Dish, years before the MLB extra-innings package, and years before the internet. Entertaintment-wise, it may or may not have been worth the $50 a month to be able to see White Sox games, but they certainly could get away with charging that because people weren't spending their money on other baseball/entertainment related items.
Well people in Chicago didn't have to spend money on other baseball entertainment because the Cubs were on free TV. And that's the point. And they really didn't "get away with charging that much" because Sportsvision did flop. Hardly anyone bought it.

The Sox lost a lot of casual baseball viewers as well as a generation of kids to the Cubs because of Einhorn's experiment.

Lip Man 1
07-10-2007, 08:44 PM
The other thing that really hurt the idea, was the fact that the country and Chicago was in a recession not seen since the 70's. A lot of folks were out of work and couldn't afford the 50 dollar hook up fee let alone the monthly charge for the service.

Dick 72:

I was in the center field bleachers the afternoon Allen hit the McDaniel pitch into them. Harry and I missed the ball by about ten feet.

By the way if you haven't already check out this thread for some great historic audio cuts:

http://www.whitesoxinteractive.com/rwas/index.php?category=14&id=2241

http://www.whitesoxinteractive.com/rwas/index.php?category=14&id=2361

Lip

Lip Man 1
07-10-2007, 08:48 PM
Regarding DeBartolo, as part of the terms of the original sale he said he would move his offices to Chicago and pledged to remain in town at least part of the time.

I don't think it was a forgone conclusion that he was moving the team to New Orleans.

I was on the floor of the Superdome when it was still being constructed and told about the baseball configuration. If you thought the Kingdome was dark and dank, you should have seen the Superdome.

Plus I don't think the population base was available in the area to support a MLB team.

Another one of those 'what if...' scenarios.

Lip

Brian26
07-10-2007, 08:48 PM
God that Joe McConnell call of Luzinski's roof shot homer is scintillating.

Brian26
07-10-2007, 08:50 PM
Regarding DeBartolo, as part of the terms of the original sale he said he would move his offices to Chicago and pledged to remain in town at least part of the time.

I don't think it was a forgone conclusion that he was moving the team to New Orleans.

I was on the floor of the Superdome when it was still being constructed and told about the baseball configuration. If you thought the Kingdome was dark and dank, you should have seen the Superdome.

Plus I don't think the population base was available in the area to support a MLB team.

Another one of those 'what if...' scenarios.

Lip

I have the Sporting News "Take Me Out to the Ballpark" book from the mid 80's. I recall it mentions that the Yankees played an exhibition game in the Superdome in the 1970's, but there weren't any photos shown of the setup.

Lip Man 1
07-10-2007, 08:50 PM
Which one? He hit three in 1983?? LOL

Lip

Brian26
07-10-2007, 08:52 PM
Wow, Hawk was using the Put It On The Board call in '83 (listen to the Baines homer against the Twins).

Brian26
07-10-2007, 08:53 PM
Which one? He hit three in 1983?? LOL

Lip

The one you have linked audio to- June 26th off Oelkers.

"The first player to do it since Zisk in 1977."

DickAllen72
07-10-2007, 11:38 PM
Dick 72:

I was in the center field bleachers the afternoon Allen hit the McDaniel pitch into them. Harry and I missed the ball by about ten feet.
Lip

Lip,
I was sitting in the CF bleachers with Harry that afternoon also. About an inning before Allen's CF shot, I snuck into Box seats in the upper deck behind home plate and saw Allen hit the ball right near where I was originally sitting!

Good times...:D:

MRM
07-11-2007, 12:47 AM
We can speculate all we want with "if only this or that" but we know what really did happen.

In a city with two major league franchises competing for market share, one team let it's most popular broadcaster who was credited with saving the franchise a decade earlier go to the other team who was televising it's games on a free TV superstation.

Simply not true. There was no such thing as a "superstation" then. There was no cable TV at all in the City of Chicago. And that $21.95 people keep throwing around was for ONtv AND Sportsvision. It was the closest thing to cable available in the City. ONtv was the HBO of it's time and was the major selling point of the package, sportsvision was a secondary player. Once all the suburbs were outfitted with cable, the city finally relented and the experiment failed. It was a revolutionary experiment by Reinsdorf/Einhorn, tho.

TommyJohn
07-11-2007, 07:51 AM
The other thing that really hurt the idea, was the fact that the country and Chicago was in a recession not seen since the 70's. A lot of folks were out of work and couldn't afford the 50 dollar hook up fee let alone the monthly charge for the service.

Dick 72:

I was in the center field bleachers the afternoon Allen hit the McDaniel pitch into them. Harry and I missed the ball by about ten feet.

By the way if you haven't already check out this thread for some great historic audio cuts:

http://www.whitesoxinteractive.com/rwas/index.php?category=14&id=2241

http://www.whitesoxinteractive.com/rwas/index.php?category=14&id=2361

Lip

I've always wanted to know-the back page of the Sun-Times the next
day shows Harry Caray reaching with his net as Allen's home run is
landing in the bleachers. Are you in that shot? Do you even know what
I am talking about? I have a microfilm copy of that back page, but
unfortunately it was a bad copy, so you can't see much, but you can
make out Harry going for the ball and the centerfield cameraman (who
was wearing a button-down shirt and tie!) leaning forward. Ever hear
of this picture?

Fenway
07-11-2007, 09:06 AM
If you look at the broadcast history of the White Sox, many factors helped giving the team second tier status to the Cubs.

In radio the Cubs and WGN date back to 1925 and the team picked up generations of fans downstate and west to Iowa.

The Sox on the other hand spent many years on WCFL 1000 which was fine in the Chicago area but at night the signal did not go well to the west and southwest. That is why you can find more Sox fans in BUFFALO than Rockford.

The years at WMAQ helped some but then you also had the dark period when the Sox were on 2 stations that transmited with string and cans (early 1970's)

The TV problems for the Sox really started in 1967. The Tribune seeing how well road games were doing with the Yankees at their NY station WPIX decided that in 1968 the Cubs would televise most of their road games back to Chicago on WGN. The Sox didn't have another option except to go to UHF and the new WFLD.

It should be noted here that the Tribune did everything it could to not allow another VHF station to be allotted to Chicago. New York City for example had channels on 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11 and 13....but Chicago only had 2, 5, 7, 9 and 11. WGN had a monopoly as far as non network programming went.

The switch to WFLD was a disaster. To begin with most TV sets at the time didn't even have a UHF tuner so you needed to run to Radio Shack and buy a converter and a loop antenna. But something else happened in early 1968 which destroyed the station's signal....the building of the John Hancock Center.

WFLD used the old Channel 7 tower on top of Marina City and when a mile to the northeast the Hancock Tower started to rise it caused havoc with the signal to the SOUTHWEST. The signal would bounce of the Hancock steel and send a second signal to the southwest that caused horrific reception problems. So the area with the most Sox fans had the worst reception. The team then starting 0-10 in 1968 also didn't make people rush out to buy a converter box.

UHF finally became a decent signal when all the stations could move to the Hancock or Sears Tower but for the first few years on WFLD it was a disaster.

russ99
07-11-2007, 09:17 AM
It's all cool. I'm enjoying this thread as well.

I may be coming off as really being anti JR/EE in this thread but that's only because the subject matter being discussed here is about things they did in the past that I really had a problem with.

I think the Sox ownership, JR in particular has really grown and improved over the years. Normally since I've been on this board I don't engage in too much criticism of Sox upper management because quite frankly in the past few years they have done a great job and I'll forever be thankful for the 2005 World Series.

I've always been a big fan of KW and you could see the bond of loyalty between KW and JR and also between JR and Ozzie as well as most of the other Sox employees which indicates that JR must be a really good person. *******s don't generate that kind of loyalty in their organizations.

Being an "old time" Sox fan however, I still harbor resentment over those dark days in the early eighties which I believe is the major cause for the Sox' second fiddle status to the Cubs to this day.

BTW, the only reason I mentioned DeBartolo is I believe he would have spent a lot of money back then much like Steinbrenner did later with the Yankees, to completely dominate this town.

Great post.

I agree Jerry's mellowed lately, and I think it has a little to do with how the White Flag trade and strike came back to bite him both in fan opinion (PR) and ticket sales.

I'm no fan of the early Reinsdorf/Einhorn era, mostly due to opening my eyes that baseball is first and foremost a business, but my opinion of Jerry's has increased over the last few years.

The best thing he's done, IMO, other than the Series win, is taking all that naming rights money (that he could have pocketed) and used it all to turn cold, sterile New Comiskey into the great ballpark that it is now.

Fenway
07-11-2007, 09:23 AM
Great post.

I agree Jerry's mellowed lately, and I think it has a little to do with how the White Flag trade and strike came back to bite him both in fan opinion (PR) and ticket sales.

I'm no fan of the early Reinsdorf/Einhorn era, mostly due to opening my eyes that baseball is first and foremost a business, but my opinion of Jerry's has increased over the last few years.

The best thing he's done, IMO, other than the Series win, is taking all that naming rights money (that he could have pocketed) and used it all to turn cold, sterile New Comiskey into the great ballpark that it is now.

The orginal White Sox investors have done very well with this team in 25 years as their $20 mil investment in 1981 is probably worth at least $500 million today.

The park is 1000% better, the team has won a championship and crowds are flocking to the park. Green seats look nice but people sitting in them looks nicer.

SBSoxFan
07-11-2007, 09:25 AM
Simply not true. There was no such thing as a "superstation" then. There was no cable TV at all in the City of Chicago. And that $21.95 people keep throwing around was for ONtv AND Sportsvision. It was the closest thing to cable available in the City. ONtv was the HBO of it's time and was the major selling point of the package, sportsvision was a secondary player. Once all the suburbs were outfitted with cable, the city finally relented and the experiment failed. It was a revolutionary experiment by Reinsdorf/Einhorn, tho.

MRM, I agree with you on all counts. There was no such thing as a superstation then because there was no cable to carry WGN across the country.

Sportsvision included the Sox, Bulls, Blackhawks, and Sting. Does that mean people would have rather watched the cubs for free than pay to see a large majority of all those team's games?

My neighbors had a box, so I would go over to their house to watch some of the games. They were big Sox fans and, interestingly, related to Tim Stoddard. I'd also watch hockey games with them. I don't recall the date or the players involved, but it was a hockey game at the old stadium between the Hawks and the, then, Minnesota North Stars. That was a huge rivalry back then. The Hawks made an amazing comeback in the third period to win the game. After the Hawks scored the lead goal, the camera shot to the bench to where the player who had just scored was sitting. The player to his right put his arm around him and kissed him smack on the lips. :D:

ah ... good times.

Fenway
07-11-2007, 09:38 AM
Fenway can certainly attest to the success of NESN, which had similar issues when it was launched in its early days.


Boy did it ever. The first year 1984 not a single cable system in the Boston area picked it up. My cable company at the Time Warner added it in 1985 but Boston itself didn't get it until halfway thru the 1986 season.

The Boston Mayor found out he had the power to revoke Dolan's Cablevision license and gave Dolan 2 hours to turn the signal on OR ELSE.

NESN for almost 20 years was $9.95 a month or $15 if you also bought SportsChannel.

It was weird that for 2 years Boston got every Whalers game on TV but not the Bruins

TornLabrum
07-11-2007, 09:47 AM
Simply not true. There was no such thing as a "superstation" then. There was no cable TV at all in the City of Chicago. And that $21.95 people keep throwing around was for ONtv AND Sportsvision. It was the closest thing to cable available in the City. ONtv was the HBO of it's time and was the major selling point of the package, sportsvision was a secondary player. Once all the suburbs were outfitted with cable, the city finally relented and the experiment failed. It was a revolutionary experiment by Reinsdorf/Einhorn, tho.

Not quite accurate regarding OnTV. The Sox didn't move to OnTV until the second year of Sportsvision. I don't remember the exact fee, but I think it was pretty close to the $21.95 being described as the OnTV fee. For the record, they were on Channel 60, then called WBBS (Bulls, Blackhawks, Sox).

The move to OnTV occurred when the investors lost money with sports standing alone.

MILTMAY5
07-11-2007, 10:25 AM
Great post.

I agree Jerry's mellowed lately, and I think it has a little to do with how the White Flag trade and strike came back to bite him both in fan opinion (PR) and ticket sales.

I'm no fan of the early Reinsdorf/Einhorn era, mostly due to opening my eyes that baseball is first and foremost a business, but my opinion of Jerry's has increased over the last few years.

The best thing he's done, IMO, other than the Series win, is taking all that naming rights money (that he could have pocketed) and used it all to turn cold, sterile New Comiskey into the great ballpark that it is now.That's the biggest difference between JR in 1982 and today. He really does now have the fan in mind. Just look around the Cell, the pride is evident. I think he wants an organization built on tradition, stability and class. If we could have repeated in '06 it would have buried the Cubs for the next 20 years!

Fenway
07-11-2007, 10:34 AM
I have my own theory about when Hawk became a schill.

After his ill fated job as an anouncer with the Yankees he limped back to Chicago hat in hand. He has never been the same since 1990.

He was just brilliant as a colorman on Boston games. He was really brutal on Don Zimmer and turned the fans against him.

soxinem1
07-11-2007, 11:03 AM
Lots of points to address:

Soxinem 1: You say that SportsVision was a success after 1983. I guess that depends on your definition of success. Logan's book says that the Sox expected 50,000 subscribers...again according to Logan they got roughly 20 thousand of them.
Lip

While I agree with most of your assessment, nowhere did I say that SV was a success after 1983. I noted that the 1984 Sox flop helped do in Einhorn's idea. So by saying it was an initial success, it would have flourished had the post-1983 Sox teams not floundered. So in the minds of viewers, when Harry and the 1984 contending cubs, on free TV became staples of Chiacgoland households, who cared about the also-rans you had to pay to watch and their one Division title?

Initially it was a success, though you are right, it was modest. My point was that had the 1984 Sox repeated and even won a pennant, SV would have probably had 100K subscribers. But since things went the way they did, that is why we have the disparity that was experienced during that time.

TDog
07-11-2007, 12:08 PM
...

In radio the Cubs and WGN date back to 1925 and the team picked up generations of fans downstate and west to Iowa.

The Sox on the other hand spent many years on WCFL 1000 which was fine in the Chicago area but at night the signal did not go well to the west and southwest. That is why you can find more Sox fans in BUFFALO than Rockford.

The years at WMAQ helped some but then you also had the dark period when the Sox were on 2 stations that transmited with string and cans (early 1970's)

The TV problems for the Sox really started in 1967. The Tribune seeing how well road games were doing with the Yankees at their NY station WPIX decided that in 1968 the Cubs would televise most of their road games back to Chicago on WGN. The Sox didn't have another option except to go to UHF and the new WFLD.

....

In the 1960s, the Sox had probably the most extensive radio network of any baseball team. That's what Bob Elson used to say, anyway. You could also pick up the Sox flagship clearly on many nights on Michigan's Upper Peninsula and Florida. In Minnesota, the Twins were on the powerful WCCO in addition to having a network of local stations in Minnesota and neighboring states. The Cardinals had KMOX as well as a network that included downstate Illinois statons. On those days on a summer night, you usually had a few games to choose from. In the Midwest, the Cardinals probably gained more fans from radio than any other team, especially considering the quality of their teams. Southern Illinois is Cardinals country.

A lot of fans seem to believe that if the Sox hadn't gone to WFLD in 1968 they would be the Superstation team the Cubs are today (although most of the places I've lived have not offered WGN on the local cable systems). By 1967, WGN already was favoring the Cubs. Mostly, it only televised White Sox day games at home. It didn't go on the road with the Cubs, but the Cubs' day games at home comprised the entire schedule. WGN had a stronger relationship with the Cubs, and the White Sox had to go somewhere else. No VHF network station would have broadcast a season full of night games either.

The oddest thing about the way the television history played out is that WGN was going on the road with the Cubs and televising their entire schedule a couple of years the Sox went to WFLD. At best, the White Sox would have been a second-class team on WGN, as they were for two years at the beginning of the '80s, when WGN televised a few Sox games when it didn't interfere with their Cubs coverage. The Sox had a three-year contract with WGN, but the station and the team ended it after two years, when the Tribune Company bought the Cubs.

It's nice to think that but for ownership screw-ups the Sox could be drawing 3 million a year as some sort of America's team, but I don't see how that would ever have happened.

Lip Man 1
07-11-2007, 12:19 PM
Tommy John:

I've never seen that picture, I'd sure like to.

-----

Also for the record, in 1981 I was watching White Sox games on "Superstation WGN" in Lexington, Kentucky with Harry Caray and Lou Brock doing the broadcasts.

In fact WGN was a Superstation at the time the Sox made the decision to leave them and go to the pay service. WWOR and WPIX in New York were also broadcasting nationally as was WTBS in Atlanta.

I can't speak for when WTVT (Dallas), WSBK (Boston), KWGN (Denver) and KTLA (Los Angeles) became Superstations.

Lip

wdelaney72
07-11-2007, 01:00 PM
Eddie Einhorn is a business man. He made an investment in pay-television that didn't work only because he was a few years ahead of everyone. Kudos to EE for having the vision to do it.

Now people come here and question Einhorn's knowledge of the broadcasting world? The guy forgot more about broadcasting than most of us have ever known. People ***** about him as an owner? It's bull****.

No-one is questioning Einhorn's knowledge of broadcasting. I think people are simply pointing out FACTUAL, DOCUMENTED mistakes the man made... they're pretty obvious. Yes, the man was very successful.... but it sure as hell wasn't during the 80's.

wdelaney72
07-11-2007, 01:08 PM
I also would like to clarify that I don't have it out for JR or the current owndership. While JR / EE mistakes are easy to point out, I think JR has made efforts to correct his mistakes. JRs' not perfect, but things could be a lot worse.

Fenway
07-11-2007, 01:43 PM
Tommy John:


I can't speak for when WTVT (Dallas), WSBK (Boston), KWGN (Denver) and KTLA (Los Angeles) became Superstations.

Lip

Lip

WSBK, WWOR and WPIX all hit the bird at the same time. Previously a company known as Eastern Microwave in Syracuse had beamed the signals via microwave to cable companies and then put all of them on the bird at the same time. WSBK did well in the Northeast and was also on in most of Canada (because of hockey)

No-one is questioning Einhorn's knowledge of broadcasting. I think people are simply pointing out FACTUAL, DOCUMENTED mistakes the man made... they're pretty obvious. Yes, the man was very successful.... but it sure as hell wasn't during the 80's.

Einhorn was very smart but simply misread the market. As I explained earlier NBC did the same with the Olympics. Getting people to pay for what used to be free was a hard nut to crack.

jdm2662
07-11-2007, 01:53 PM
It was weird that for 2 years Boston got every Whalers game on TV but not the Bruins

:dollarbill:

"And the problem is??"

Johnny Mostil
07-11-2007, 02:03 PM
Also for the record, in 1981 I was watching White Sox games on "Superstation WGN" in Lexington, Kentucky with Harry Caray and Lou Brock doing the broadcasts.

FWIW, wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superstation_WGN) indicates WGN became a "superstation" in 1978. I won't vouch for its accuracy, but I, too, remember watching WGN in the early 1980s in Ohio and Kentucky . . .

Edit: and, again FWIW, wikipedia also indicates the TBS Superstation (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TBS_Superstation) was launched in 1976. So I'd say it simply was true that there was such a thing as a "superstation" in the late 1970s and early 1980s, although I have no recollection at all of how well such things penetrated the suburban Chicago market (aside from the lack of cable in the city, of course) . . .

DickAllen72
07-11-2007, 02:04 PM
Also for the record, in 1981 I was watching White Sox games on "Superstation WGN" in Lexington, Kentucky with Harry Caray and Lou Brock doing the broadcasts.

In fact WGN was a Superstation at the time the Sox made the decision to leave them and go to the pay service. WWOR and WPIX in New York were also broadcasting nationally as was WTBS in Atlanta.

Lip

Thank you.

DickAllen72
07-11-2007, 02:07 PM
FWIW, wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superstation_WGN) indicates WGN became a "superstation" in 1978. I won't vouch for its accuracy, but I, too, remember watching WGN in the early 1980s in Ohio and Kentucky . . .
And thank you, too.

Johnny Mostil
07-11-2007, 02:10 PM
And thank you, too.

You're welcome. One thing I can't remember, as I mentioned in a subsequent edit, was how much cable then penetrated the suburban market, or any other market where Chicago baseball fans might be (aside, of course, from its lack of penetration in the city) . . .

Brian26
07-11-2007, 07:46 PM
I have the Sporting News "Take Me Out to the Ballpark" book from the mid 80's. I recall it mentions that the Yankees played an exhibition game in the Superdome in the 1970's, but there weren't any photos shown of the setup.

Found this photo tonight:

http://photo.net/bboard-uploads/00BpGK-22834184.jpg

MILTMAY5
07-11-2007, 11:47 PM
I have my own theory about when Hawk became a schill.

After his ill fated job as an anouncer with the Yankees he limped back to Chicago hat in hand. He has never been the same since 1990.

He was just brilliant as a colorman on Boston games. He was really brutal on Don Zimmer and turned the fans against him.Excellent theory! I'm sure bombing out as a GM in 1986 made it hard for him continue being critical of management.

Hitmen77
07-12-2007, 08:39 AM
No-one is questioning Einhorn's knowledge of broadcasting. I think people are simply pointing out FACTUAL, DOCUMENTED mistakes the man made... they're pretty obvious. Yes, the man was very successful.... but it sure as hell wasn't during the 80's.

Well said!!

....and just because 25 years later the whole world - including MLB local broadcasts - has moved over to basic cable doesn't make Einhorn "visionary" for charging Sox fans $20 (in 1982$) for just the Sox, Hawks, and pre-Jordan Bulls. Even today, in 2007, the Sox have more games on free TV than in 1982. Did Eddie envision that?

Hitmen77
07-12-2007, 08:51 AM
If you look at the broadcast history of the White Sox, many factors helped giving the team second tier status to the Cubs.

In radio the Cubs and WGN date back to 1925 and the team picked up generations of fans downstate and west to Iowa.

The Sox on the other hand spent many years on WCFL 1000 which was fine in the Chicago area but at night the signal did not go well to the west and southwest. That is why you can find more Sox fans in BUFFALO than Rockford.

The years at WMAQ helped some but then you also had the dark period when the Sox were on 2 stations that transmited with string and cans (early 1970's)

The TV problems for the Sox really started in 1967. The Tribune seeing how well road games were doing with the Yankees at their NY station WPIX decided that in 1968 the Cubs would televise most of their road games back to Chicago on WGN. The Sox didn't have another option except to go to UHF and the new WFLD.





Interesting. I always wondered why the Sox decided to leave WGN after '67 (before my time) and go to a UHF station.
Why did WGN decide to go with the Cubs at that point? In '67, the Sox were still in the midst of their successful run during the 50s and 60s and the Cubs hadn't turned things around yet.

Fenway
07-12-2007, 08:54 AM
Interesting. I always wondered why the Sox decided to leave WGN after '67 (before my time) and go to a UHF station.
Why did WGN decide to go with the Cubs at that point? In '67, the Sox were still in the midst of their successful run during the 50s and 60s and the Cubs hadn't turned things around yet.


Don't forget that WGN Radio had the Cubs so when it was time for them to go with one team the choice was obvious.

DickAllen72
07-12-2007, 10:46 AM
Well said!!

....and just because 25 years later the whole world - including MLB local broadcasts - has moved over to basic cable doesn't make Einhorn "visionary" for charging Sox fans $20 (in 1982$) for just the Sox, Hawks, and pre-Jordan Bulls. Even today, in 2007, the Sox have more games on free TV than in 1982. Did Eddie envision that?

Excellent points.

Fenway
07-12-2007, 11:23 AM
Well said!!

....and just because 25 years later the whole world - including MLB local broadcasts - has moved over to basic cable doesn't make Einhorn "visionary" for charging Sox fans $20 (in 1982$) for just the Sox, Hawks, and pre-Jordan Bulls. Even today, in 2007, the Sox have more games on free TV than in 1982. Did Eddie envision that?


One factor that is overlooked is that for the Bulls and Blackhawks, Sportsvision was the ONLY option...nobody wanted them. JR was still 3 years away from buying the Bulls and in 1981-2 the Stadium was a very lonely place for a lot of Bulls games. I went to a game in December of 1981 against Washington and there were 3,000 people there. Even the then more popular Hawks had no TV outlet interested in road games.

TDog
07-12-2007, 11:51 AM
Interesting. I always wondered why the Sox decided to leave WGN after '67 (before my time) and go to a UHF station.
Why did WGN decide to go with the Cubs at that point? In '67, the Sox were still in the midst of their successful run during the 50s and 60s and the Cubs hadn't turned things around yet.


The Cubs turned things around in 1967. They finished third, 14 games out and 13 games above .500 (not much worse than the beloved third-place, 13-games-out 1977 White Sox). The Cubs went into a July 4 doubleheader tied for first with the eventual World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals. And they were doing it with hitting -- Ernie Banks, Billy Williams and Ron Santo. They led the NL in runs scored for the season. By late August, the White Sox were still in first place in a tight race, and the Cubs were more than 10 out, but after years of frustration, the Cubs had sparked the city's imagination. There were more Cubs games than Sox games on WGN in 1967 because of the station's policies -- and the fans' alternative at the time wasn't pay TV but free radio.

The White Sox had a choice of being treated as the second team by WGN, as they were for two years in the early '80s on the WGN, or putting most of their games on television, with only UHF station to go to. As it turned out, it was a lose-lose situation.

Lip Man 1
07-12-2007, 12:22 PM
Hitmen:

I sent a column which included your questions about 1967 to George two days ago, perhaps he will run it this Sunday. It answers your questions and provides more details about that decision.

Lip

Hitmen77
07-12-2007, 03:54 PM
Don't forget that WGN Radio had the Cubs so when it was time for them to go with one team the choice was obvious.

Seems to me that the Sox current broadcast situation in Chicago is the best it has been in 40 years. The Cubs still have more games on WGN, but not all of their games anymore. Both teams also have games on the same cable channel. Also, basic cable/satellite service is so widespread now that a significant majority of fans have access to those games on "Comcast SportsNet".

On the radio side, the Cubs are still on WGN, but the Sox are now on 670's strong signal. WGN may get much higher ratings overall, but does anyone under 40 listen to that station for anything other than Cubs games?

Hitmen:

I sent a column which included your questions about 1967 to George two days ago, perhaps he will run it this Sunday. It answers your questions and provides more details about that decision.

Lip

Thanks.

Fenway
07-12-2007, 06:02 PM
WGN may have simply decided they no longer wanted to promote the Sox as they did not have the radio rights. I suppose they could have gone after the Sox radio and send the Cubs packing but. WGN was just down the street from Wrigley and the Cubs were in no danger of leaving while the Sox situation was muddled. Keep in mind Selig was looking hard at the Sox to move 90 miles north.

GoSox2K3
07-12-2007, 08:23 PM
You're welcome. One thing I can't remember, as I mentioned in a subsequent edit, was how much cable then penetrated the suburban market, or any other market where Chicago baseball fans might be (aside, of course, from its lack of penetration in the city) . . .

I don't know about the rest of the suburbs, but the NW suburbs got cable in the 1982-83 period.

GoSox2K3
07-12-2007, 08:26 PM
The White Sox had a choice of being treated as the second team by WGN, as they were for two years in the early '80s on the WGN, or putting most of their games on television, with only UHF station to go to. As it turned out, it was a lose-lose situation.

It was actually just one year on WGN - 1981. The Sox were still on Channel 44 in 1980 and in '82 they moved to Sportsvision/WFLD.

The Sox then returned to WGN in 1990 and have had telecasts there ever since.

TomBradley72
07-12-2007, 08:46 PM
There is great truth in the above statement. My father was a season ticket holder for the White Sox starting around 1961, and my brothers and I carried on the tradition in a package with my father beginning in the late 1980s.

A lot of the changes Reinsdorf's ownership group made were very positive. The renovation of the park, and the signing of marquee free agents like Carlton Fisk and the acquisition of other players such as Greg Luzinski and the farm system finally producing made being a Sox fan exciting.

But there are several things Reinsdorf did that hastened the decline of the Sox being the more popular team in Chicago (which they were in my childhood in the late 50s and most of the 1960s).

First was the stupidity in the creation of Sportsvision -- cable TV without the cable, allowing the most popular baseball personality in the city to move to the other team's broadcast booth. This was probably the worst decision in the recent history of the team.

Second, was the threat to move the team to Florida. We were among many fans who cancelled our season ticket prior to the final year at old Comiskey because, as my Dad put it, "You don't take your wife out to dinner when she's suing you for divorce."

Then, when the Stadium deal came through, we were unable to obtain decent seats, and were lost in the shuffle to be part of the "brand new, old fashioned fun." The stadium proved to be sterile, and poorly designed in the upper deck, where we wound up sitting with out new season ticket package. Customer service for the new park was appalling. It would not improve until the Sox won the division in 1993.

Finally, Reinsdorf's role in orchestrating the lockout in 1994 has been, and continues to be, an almost unforgivable event when the Sox appeared destined to win it all that year. My Father cancelled his season tickets at that time, and has never been back to the park. Even when the Sox won the World Series. Its sad, but when you add all that up, even the World Series win isn't enough for fans like my Dad, who view JR as the man who screwed them three times in a decade.

Perfect summation.

Save McCuddy's
07-12-2007, 09:53 PM
It was actually a very good idea. However, it was five years too early. Cable TV wasn't even available in the city until 1985. Had he waited when cable TV became the norm, imagine how big it would be now. Sportschannel was a fantastic station before Fox took over. Had Einhorn held on to it and not sold it to the Dolan's, he would've looked like an inovative genious. Revenues would also be similar to the likes of the Yankees, Red Sox, and Mets thanks to their own cable station. Fenway can certainly attest to the success of NESN, which had similar issues when it was launched in its early days.


There's a statue of Harry Caray outside Wrigley that attests to the fact that this idea was off base. How could you think pay per view was a good idea when the Cubs and Braves were giving their games away for free nationwide?

The cable stations of the Yankees, Mets and Red Sox are subscription based and are carried as part of the basic cable package that is offered in those communities. Entirely different concept than Sportsvision which was a stand alone channel in the pre-cable era.

DannyCaterFan
07-12-2007, 10:02 PM
Interesting. I always wondered why the Sox decided to leave WGN after '67 (before my time) and go to a UHF station.
Why did WGN decide to go with the Cubs at that point? In '67, the Sox were still in the midst of their successful run during the 50s and 60s and the Cubs hadn't turned things around yet.


Anybody remember that twi-night doubleheader in Kansas City the Sox lost that last week of the season in 67? It helped seal their fate for the season. WGN was scheduled to televise game 2 of the double header, but refused to come on the air early for the first game. I believe they came on the air in the 8th inning of game 1. Besides being treated like "second class citizens" by WGN by 1967, the main reason the Sox jumped to WFLD, channel 32 was becaause WFLD offered them over a million dollars a year for the rights. Big money at the time.

tacosalbarojas
07-12-2007, 10:32 PM
The other thing that really hurt the idea, was the fact that the country and Chicago was in a recession not seen since the 70's. A lot of folks were out of work and couldn't afford the 50 dollar hook up fee let alone the monthly charge for the service.

This is true, that's why I was completely elated when as a 12 year old I won 2nd prize in the on-going Sun-Times sports trivia contest which was one year free of SportsVision (1st place was $500). And that's the story of how a young tacos got to see the 1983 season.

Nellie_Fox
07-12-2007, 11:49 PM
WGN may get much higher ratings overall, but does anyone under 40 listen to that station for anything other than Cubs games? More like under 70, and I think you have to drive a gray Buick even then.

TDog
07-13-2007, 12:07 AM
It was actually just one year on WGN - 1981. The Sox were still on Channel 44 in 1980 and in '82 they moved to Sportsvision/WFLD.

The Sox then returned to WGN in 1990 and have had telecasts there ever since.

I remembered that the contract ended early. I lived in a desert community where cable saturation was nearly 100 percent, but it didn't have WGN (despite having WTGC and its successor, WTBS, carrying all the Braves games). I did see the White Sox on WGN once up in Las Vegas in a sports book. I know there weren't many White Sox games on WGN because they didn't show the White Sox if the Cubs were playing. The thing that happened in 1981 that did the most to move the White Sox to WFLD for their minimal free television coverage was the purchase of the Cubs by the Tribune Company.

I came across an interesting fact tonight while doing research for a class. In 1964, California voters passed Proposition 15, which guaranteed that everyone had a right to free television, whether by antenna or cable. It outlawed charging people for cable television. The California Supreme Court declared the law unconstitutional in 1966. If the law had been upheld and the movement spread, there would be no ESPN to complain about.

Nellie_Fox
07-13-2007, 01:06 AM
If the law had been upheld and the movement spread, there would be no ESPN to complain about.If that had happened, I'd have one channel here in Mankato unless I put up about a hundred foot tower to pull in Twin Cities channels.

Lip Man 1
07-13-2007, 01:08 AM
The Dodgers actually came up with the idea of 'pay per view' for baseball while that franchise was still in Brookyln. It was to be called 'Skyron' and shown in movie theaters across the borough.

It never came into being, then was considered again when they moved to L.A. but that also never got beyond the planning stages.

Lip

ZombieRob
07-13-2007, 01:12 AM
The Dodgers actually came up with the idea of 'pay per view' for baseball while that franchise was still in Brookyln. It was to be called 'Skyron' and shown in movie theaters across the borough.

It never came into being, then was considered again when they moved to L.A. but that also never got beyond the planning stages.

Lip
Not to get too much off topic but i remember the Hawks offered playoff games in i want to say 91 or 92? Wish they would do that with home games at least. I still have my OnTV converter in the garage.

MRM
07-13-2007, 01:29 AM
There's a statue of Harry Caray outside Wrigley that attests to the fact that this idea was off base. How could you think pay per view was a good idea when the Cubs and Braves were giving their games away for free nationwide?

The cable stations of the Yankees, Mets and Red Sox are subscription based and are carried as part of the basic cable package that is offered in those communities. Entirely different concept than Sportsvision which was a stand alone channel in the pre-cable era.

It wasn't a stand alone product by any means. It was included as an incentive to buy the ONTV PREMIUM in the early cable days. Brilliant idea ahead of it's time, as was stated.

ZombieRob
07-13-2007, 01:41 AM
It wasn't a stand alone product by any means. It was included as an incentive to buy the ONTV PREMIUM in the early cable days. Brilliant idea ahead of it's time, as was stated.
I agree,and what you said was true about the premium package.If they stuck to it can you imagine the revenue the Sox would have?

MRM
07-13-2007, 01:45 AM
FWIW, wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superstation_WGN) indicates WGN became a "superstation" in 1978. I won't vouch for its accuracy, but I, too, remember watching WGN in the early 1980s in Ohio and Kentucky . . .

Edit: and, again FWIW, wikipedia also indicates the TBS Superstation (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TBS_Superstation) was launched in 1976. So I'd say it simply was true that there was such a thing as a "superstation" in the late 1970s and early 1980s, although I have no recollection at all of how well such things penetrated the suburban Chicago market (aside from the lack of cable in the city, of course) . . .

The definition of "superstation" is a non-network station that broadcast over satellite. However, there was no RECEPTION to most homes in the U.S., unless they were wealthy enough to actually put a 15" dish in their back yard, prior to cable TV which came along a few years later. The whole "superstation" thing had zero meaning until nation-wide cable emerged, making it affordable for people to actually receive satellite transmissions.

MRM
07-13-2007, 01:54 AM
I agree,and what you said was true about the premium package.If they stuck to it can you imagine the revenue the Sox would have?

Well, none. OnTV is the reason Chicago lagged behind the rest of the country in getting cable. But it was an inferior product that was going to be replaced eventually, anyhow.

Fenway
07-13-2007, 08:15 AM
This I will give WGN a pass on.

In those days a station had to go theough AT&T longlines to import video from elsewhere and if the order said to provide a picture from Kansas City at say 8 PM, that is when it would arrive. A station had to pay $1 a mile a minute and you had to buy an hour at a time. They allowed a 5 minute grace period at the top of the hour but at minute 6 they charged for another hour.

In the Midwest it was mostly done by microwave and they would have people at every hop along the way.



Anybody remember that twi-night doubleheader in Kansas City the Sox lost that last week of the season in 67? It helped seal their fate for the season. WGN was scheduled to televise game 2 of the double header, but refused to come on the air early for the first game. I believe they came on the air in the 8th inning of game 1. Besides being treated like "second class citizens" by WGN by 1967, the main reason the Sox jumped to WFLD, channel 32 was becaause WFLD offered them over a million dollars a year for the rights. Big money at the time.

TomBradley72
07-13-2007, 09:57 AM
It wasn't a stand alone product by any means. It was included as an incentive to buy the ONTV PREMIUM in the early cable days. Brilliant idea ahead of it's time, as was stated.

Ahead of it's time is right. It was an idea who's implementation should have been delayed. Your major competitor is offering their product for free 162 times a year, the major part of your market (Chicago) is not wired for cable, and your product has been mediocre for the last 14 years (1968-1981). After the city was wired for cable and the White Sox had proven themselves as a consistent contender....having them being a part of a cable package would have made sense.

Would anyone pay $22/month TODAY just for access to the White Sox? That price 25 years ago made this an insane idea.

DickAllen72
07-13-2007, 10:15 AM
Ahead of it's time is right. It was an idea who's implementation should have been delayed. Your major competitor is offering their product for free 162 times a year, the major part of your market (Chicago) is not wired for cable, and your product has been mediocre for the last 14 years (1968-1981). After the city was wired for cable and the White Sox had proven themselves as a consistent contender....having them being a part of a cable package would have made sense.

Would anyone pay $22/month TODAY just for access to the White Sox? That price 25 years ago made this an insane idea.
I opened up a gas station back in the '70's when all the other stations offered full-service and charged about $1.00 per gallon of gas.

I decided my station would be self-serve--the customers would pump their own gas--thus saving me money on paying pump attendents. I also decided that I would charge my customers $3.50 per gallon even though all of my competitors were charging $1.00 per gallon at the time.

I lost a lot of money and had to go out of business a short time later, but seeing how today most gas stations are now self-serve and charge over $3.00 per gallon, I think I deserve kudos for being a visionary. My brilliant ideas were just thirty years ahead of their time. :tongue:

Johnny Mostil
07-13-2007, 11:16 AM
The definition of "superstation" is a non-network station that broadcast over satellite. However, there was no RECEPTION to most homes in the U.S., unless they were wealthy enough to actually put a 15" dish in their back yard, prior to cable TV which came along a few years later. The whole "superstation" thing had zero meaning until nation-wide cable emerged, making it affordable for people to actually receive satellite transmissions.

Even using your definition above it still appears to be simply true that there was such a thing as a "superstation" in the early 1980s. Again fromwikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superstation_WGN) (for which I won't claim infallibility):


In October 1978 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/October_1978), United Video uplinked the signal of WGN-TV (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WGN-TV) channel 9 in Chicago (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicago%2C_Illinois) to the Satcom-3 satellite for cable and satellite subscribers nationwide.


So we're all agreed on the "satellite." OK? My point, and I assume Lip's as well, was that such a thing existed. Period. And, frankly, having watched WGN in Kentucky in the early 1980s, I can tell you such things existed in homes of some folks (even with satellite dishes!) who probably should have been spending their money on other things, but that's another story.

Now the more interesting point you raise is the rapid penetration of cable television in the United States during the 1980s. The Statistical Abstract of the United States 1990 has some intriguing data on cable TV subscriptions in the1980s (http://www2.census.gov/prod2/statcomp/documents/1990-05.pdf). Table 914 (page down in big PDF file) shows the proportion of households nationwide by year that had cable TV--15 percent in 1980, 24 in '82, 33 in '84, etc., up to 48 in '89. Table 915 shows the demographics of persons who had cable by age, sex, race and Hispanic origin, employment, status, and household income in 1989, or about the time cable television had reportedly reached about half the households in the United States. Nothing too surprising--younger, better educated, and wealthier persons were more likely to have cable. So at the time the Sox are putting their games on SportsVision, access to WGN is rapidly growing in all households generally and, I surmise, in younger and wealthier households specifically.

I have no idea what I would have done if I were Einhorn in the early 1980s. I can't recall the penetration of cable in the suburbs, but I do recall the city was really dragging, and, as others have pointed out, the TV deal that Einhorn inherited from Veeck may have even been worse. And I'm absolutely sure Einhorn has forgotten more about TV than I'll ever know. But I'm not sure I could look at the aftermath of SportsVision, not to mention the rapidly improving viewer demographics the Cubs enjoyed on WGN, and just call it an idea ahead of its time . . .

Fenway
07-13-2007, 11:26 AM
Cable was delayed in Chicago for the usual silly stuff that happens when you get the aldermen involved.

Cablevision which was a big player in the burbs got the Area 1 contract and then refused to build as they found out most of the hi-rises on the lakefront had installed private systems.

The bottom line on WFLD in 1968 were the signal problems. The building of the Hancock just made watching in the southwest part of the city impossible as the signal from Marina City bounced off the Hancock and reflected back.

Johnny Mostil
07-13-2007, 11:33 AM
Cable was delayed in Chicago for the usual silly stuff that happens when you get the aldermen involved.

Cablevision which was a big player in the burbs got the Area 1 contract and then refused to build as they found out most of the hi-rises on the lakefront had installed private systems.

The bottom line on WFLD in 1968 were the signal problems. The building of the Hancock just made watching in the southwest part of the city impossible as the signal from Marina City bounced off the Hancock and reflected back.

Fens, when did Cablevision become "a big player in the burbs," and what exactly do you mean by that statement? I really have just about no recollection of cable in the 'burbs in the early '80s (except for the fact that my parents didn't have it!). I always had an impression--perhaps inaccurate--that Einhorn wanted to improve Sox marketing in the 'burbs, and wonder what, if any, were his options there. (Of course, if he had found a reasonable cable alternative in the 'burbs, I'm sure the *****ing about him "abandoning" the city would still be echoing today . . .)

Fenway
07-13-2007, 11:38 AM
Fens, when did Cablevision become "a big player in the burbs," and what exactly do you mean by that statement? I really have just about no recollection of cable in the 'burbs in the early '80s (except for the fact that my parents didn't have it!). I always had an impression--perhaps inaccurate--that Einhorn wanted to improve Sox marketing in the 'burbs, and wonder what, if any, were his options there. (Of course, if he had found a reasonable cable alternative in the 'burbs, I'm sure the *****ing about him "abandoning" the city would still be echoing today . . .)

They had the franchises for a good chunk of the burbs. They were based in Oak Park and were in places like Evanston. The other big player was Westinghouse that was based in Skokie and wound up buiding most of Chicago as well as Group W cable.

They had the worst cable boxes I have ever seen which were made by Oak who also happened to own ON-TV

Lip Man 1
07-13-2007, 11:57 AM
Johnny:

Again just to be clear I watched WGN ON CABLE in Lexington, Kentucky in 1981.

One game in particular stands out, Sox at Mariners, I remember thinking how bad Lou Brock was as an announcer and the fact that the game started at 10PM on the East Coast and I had to get up around 6AM to be at the radio station by 7 for my morning oldies show!

I stayed up to watch anyway. :smile:

Lip

Johnny Mostil
07-13-2007, 12:05 PM
Johnny:

Again just to be clear I watched WGN ON CABLE in Lexington, Kentucky in 1981.

One game in particular stands out, Sox at Mariners, I remember thinking how bad Lou Brock was as an announcer and the fact that the game started at 10PM on the East Coast and I had to get up around 6AM to be at the radio station by 7 for my morning oldies show!

I stayed up to watch anyway. :smile:

Lip

Lip--I believe you. I don't recall any specific games from that era, but do remember watching the Sox in some Kentucky houses (well outside Lexington, mind you) where I could remember telephone service first being delivered.:o: At one point, I even thought the official flower of the commonwealth was the satellite dish, but I suppose that statement wasn't really fair. Well, at least not until some years later:wink: . . .

Fenway
07-13-2007, 08:08 PM
Something we don't know. In 1967 who had more viewers on channel 9 the Sox or Cubs? Now as far as Sportsvison is concerned the Sox had to get on TV somehow in 1982. Being on TV meant highlights on the 10 PM news. Staying on WGN meant 45 games top. Channel 32 did not want a full slate. Channels 50 and 60 offered no promotional value. The Sox were screwed. EE had to factor all of this in. Being seen on the 10 PM news was huge especially when every Cubs game was available for hilites. The Hawks and Bulls were TV homeless as well. Seriously what other option did the Sox have?

kba
07-13-2007, 08:55 PM
Something we don't know. In 1967 who had more viewers on channel 9 the Sox or Cubs? Now as far as Sportsvison is concerned the Sox had to get on TV somehow in 1982. Being on TV meant highlights on the 10 PM news. Staying on WGN meant 45 games top. Channel 32 did not want a full slate. Channels 50 and 60 offered no promotional value. The Sox were screwed. EE had to factor all of this in. Being seen on the 10 PM news was huge especially when every Cubs game was available for hilites. The Hawks and Bulls were TV homeless as well. Seriously what other option did the Sox have?



That's really a key point. The WGN contract that Einhorn and Reinsdorf inherited from Bill Veeck was pretty awful - just a smattering of Sox games scheduled whenever the Cubs weren't playing. Some evening road games, an occasional prime-time home game if the Cubs had the night off, and quite a few late west coast games. There was no attempt to concentrate on key rivalries or even to space the games evenly throughout the season. You could go a week or more with no telecasts at all.

You could make the point that the Sox would have been better served to stay with that arrangement on WGN ... that any exposure on a superstation would have better than none. But there was no option available to Einhorn and Reinsdorf that would have been anywhere close to the full slate of games the Cubs had in those days on WGN. Channel 50 didn't even exist in those days, channel 44 had given up Sox games to run ON-TV, 60 was running its own pay-TV operaton, 26 was Spanish, and 32 was only interested in a limited number of games.

Whether Sportsvision had come along or not, the era of 100+ free Sox games on Chicago TV likely was over.

GoSox2K3
07-13-2007, 09:35 PM
Fens, when did Cablevision become "a big player in the burbs," and what exactly do you mean by that statement? I really have just about no recollection of cable in the 'burbs in the early '80s (except for the fact that my parents didn't have it!). I always had an impression--perhaps inaccurate--that Einhorn wanted to improve Sox marketing in the 'burbs, and wonder what, if any, were his options there. (Of course, if he had found a reasonable cable alternative in the 'burbs, I'm sure the *****ing about him "abandoning" the city would still be echoing today . . .)

The NW suburbs (Arlington Hts, Mt. Prospect, etc.) had "Cablenet". Many areas were wired in '82 and I think most areas were done by mid-83. I remember, because our neighborhood got wired for cable in April '83 and I recall that we were one of the last neighborhoods in our area to get it and some of my friends already had cable for many months at that point.

Fenway
07-13-2007, 09:58 PM
50 and 60 both arrived in 1981 and were joined at the hip. Let us be honest about something. WSNS could make more money with the ONTV lease than the Sox. It was a mess. Yes 45 games on a superstation would be nice but it more important to be seen in Rogers Park than Louisville.

soxwon
07-13-2007, 10:07 PM
Hawk has slagged a bit, but i still love him.
He may be a homer, but so is santo even much more.
Hawk continues to support the team, and criticize them
when they deserve it.
I take his words as WORd.
He see things the average fan does not see.
I love him and will allways love him.
And Dj has gotten much better as has farmer and singleton,
To me whomever announces is fine.
Its guys like Santo that i cant stand.
Im sorry- he is pathetic.

Hitmen77
07-13-2007, 10:09 PM
Something we don't know. In 1967 who had more viewers on channel 9 the Sox or Cubs? Now as far as Sportsvison is concerned the Sox had to get on TV somehow in 1982. Being on TV meant highlights on the 10 PM news. Staying on WGN meant 45 games top. Channel 32 did not want a full slate. Channels 50 and 60 offered no promotional value. The Sox were screwed. EE had to factor all of this in. Being seen on the 10 PM news was huge especially when every Cubs game was available for hilites. The Hawks and Bulls were TV homeless as well. Seriously what other option did the Sox have?

Question: why didn't WFLD want a full slate of Sox games - or at least something more than 30 games? Remember, this was years before the launch of the Fox network.

By the way, does anyone remember in 1989 when WFLD sued to get out of their contract with the Sox? Their motivation at the time was to make room for the Fox Network - but the basis for their suit (IIRC) was that the Sox had no interest in putting a winning product on the field. Funny thing is that the following year, the Sox won 94 games.

Hitmen77
07-13-2007, 10:15 PM
50 and 60 both arrived in 1981 and were joined at the hip. Let us be honest about something. WSNS could make more money with the ONTV lease than the Sox. It was a mess. Yes 45 games on a superstation would be nice but it more important to be seen in Rogers Park than Louisville.

Actually, all that was around in the early 80s on the higher end of the UHF dial was Ch. 44 (ON-TV), Channel 60 (SportsVision part time and Spanish part time) and Ch. 66 (Spectrum pay tv service). There was no Channel 50.

I think it was after SportsVision moved to basic cable that Ch. 60 then began airing regular programming as WPWR. Then, i think in 1987, WPWR moved from Channel 60 to Channel 50 and Channel 60 became Home Shopping.

By the way, does anyone know what year SportsVision finally moved from Pay TV to being a basic cable channel?

kba
07-14-2007, 10:32 AM
Channels 60 and 66 both signed on in 1981. Both ran scrambled pay-TV operations: 60 had Sportsvision, 66 had Spectrum. Channel 50 came on the air in 1986, after a complicated series of ownership moves involving one of the previous owners of channel 60.

In the early 80's, Field Communications poured a lot of money into WFLD to try to "professionalize" it and make it a true competitor to WGN. They paid top dollar to acquire reruns of shows like "Happy Days" and "MASH," and got rid of a lot of the old black-and-white reruns and movies they'd been programming for the previous fifteen years. They feared a full slate of 100+ Sox games would cause havoc with their prime-time schedule and too often preempt their 10:00 pm "MASH" episode - which was the biggest program on their schedule.

As for the 1989 lawsuit, this is from the January 15, 1989 Tribune:


Fox lawyers argue the Sox stripped their payroll to the minimum, making the team "undesirable to watch." It said the team violated advertising agreements. It accuses owners Jerry Reinsdorf and Eddie Einhorn of "gutting and strip-mining the White Sox team of salary investment, player quality and fan goodwill, which has caused fans to vote with their feet (low attendance)." Fox claimed ratings dropped to 1.7 in August and that WFLD would lose $1.4 million on the team.Ironically, after the Sox moved to WGN in 1990, ratings and ad revenue more than doubled as the team became competitive again.

soxinem1
07-16-2007, 06:19 PM
Not to jump too far off topic, but someone (actually a lot of people) in this thread mentioned Hawk being a company man.

Back in 1985 there was a special hosted by Don Drysdale and Hawk that listed the best position players in team history, and had a look see in the future as well.

This was before Hawk was made GM, er, VP of Ops (or OOOPS!).

During the program, as they were going down the list of players, Hawk put Aparicio at 2B and Luke Appling at 3B to make room for Ozzie at SS, who in his mind, he said, would captivate the team, be a huge offensive force, bs, bs, bs.

He then toasted the 'bright' future with such pitching stars as Bruce Tanner, Tony Menendez, and 'the best young OF to come out of the Sox farm system in a l-o-o-o-o-n-g time, Kenny Williams' (hello, Harold Baines!).

As biased a fan as I was back then, I couldn't believe the hose job they tried to pull. Move Luke and Looie to make room for Ozzie? Two HOF'ers for a guy who had about 300 MLB AB's at the time? Please! I always believe JR and EE put him up to this, as a way of making their tenure seem better than what was on the field in the past.

Does anyone remember that?

TommyJohn
07-16-2007, 10:57 PM
Not to jump too far off topic, but someone (actually a lot of people) in this thread mentioned Hawk being a company man.

Back in 1985 there was a special hosted by Don Drysdale and Hawk that listed the best position players in team history, and had a look see in the future as well.

This was before Hawk was made GM, er, VP of Ops (or OOOPS!).

During the program, as they were going down the list of players, Hawk put Aparicio at 2B and Luke Appling at 3B to make room for Ozzie at SS, who in his mind, he said, would captivate the team, be a huge offensive force, bs, bs, bs.

He then toasted the 'bright' future with such pitching stars as Bruce Tanner, Tony Menendez, and 'the best young OF to come out of the Sox farm system in a l-o-o-o-o-n-g time, Kenny Williams' (hello, Harold Baines!).

As biased a fan as I was back then, I couldn't believe the hose job they tried to pull. Move Luke and Looie to make room for Ozzie? Two HOF'ers for a guy who had about 300 MLB AB's at the time? Please! I always believe JR and EE put him up to this, as a way of making their tenure seem better than what was on the field in the past.

Does anyone remember that?



I don't, but I do remember him saying that Willie Harris was going to make
everyone forget about Roberto Alomar.

jdm2662
07-17-2007, 09:36 AM
Not to jump too far off topic, but someone (actually a lot of people) in this thread mentioned Hawk being a company man.

Back in 1985 there was a special hosted by Don Drysdale and Hawk that listed the best position players in team history, and had a look see in the future as well.

This was before Hawk was made GM, er, VP of Ops (or OOOPS!).

During the program, as they were going down the list of players, Hawk put Aparicio at 2B and Luke Appling at 3B to make room for Ozzie at SS, who in his mind, he said, would captivate the team, be a huge offensive force, bs, bs, bs.

He then toasted the 'bright' future with such pitching stars as Bruce Tanner, Tony Menendez, and 'the best young OF to come out of the Sox farm system in a l-o-o-o-o-n-g time, Kenny Williams' (hello, Harold Baines!).

As biased a fan as I was back then, I couldn't believe the hose job they tried to pull. Move Luke and Looie to make room for Ozzie? Two HOF'ers for a guy who had about 300 MLB AB's at the time? Please! I always believe JR and EE put him up to this, as a way of making their tenure seem better than what was on the field in the past.

Does anyone remember that?

Hawk also compared Brian Anderson to Grady Sizemore. Now, I like Brian Anderson and all, but come on.

tebman
07-17-2007, 12:30 PM
Channels 60 and 66 both signed on in 1981. Both ran scrambled pay-TV operations: 60 had Sportsvision, 66 had Spectrum. Channel 50 came on the air in 1986, after a complicated series of ownership moves involving one of the previous owners of channel 60.

In the early 80's, Field Communications poured a lot of money into WFLD to try to "professionalize" it and make it a true competitor to WGN. They paid top dollar to acquire reruns of shows like "Happy Days" and "MASH," and got rid of a lot of the old black-and-white reruns and movies they'd been programming for the previous fifteen years. They feared a full slate of 100+ Sox games would cause havoc with their prime-time schedule and too often preempt their 10:00 pm "MASH" episode - which was the biggest program on their schedule.

As for the 1989 lawsuit, this is from the January 15, 1989 Tribune:

Quote:
Fox lawyers argue the Sox stripped their payroll to the minimum, making the team "undesirable to watch." It said the team violated advertising agreements. It accuses owners Jerry Reinsdorf and Eddie Einhorn of "gutting and strip-mining the White Sox team of salary investment, player quality and fan goodwill, which has caused fans to vote with their feet (low attendance)." Fox claimed ratings dropped to 1.7 in August and that WFLD would lose $1.4 million on the team.

Ironically, after the Sox moved to WGN in 1990, ratings and ad revenue more than doubled as the team became competitive again.

I just finished reading through this whole thread and was fascinated by it. I was out of town when the thread began so I'm coming in late. I'm quoting kba here only to add another trivia footnote to the TV-station history.

Channel 50 was originally licensed to Lake Central High School in St. John, Indiana. I lived in NW Indiana during those years and saw Lake Central struggle with what became an enormous white elephant for the school district. Studios and transmitter were in the back of the school on Route 41 in St. John, and in the late-'70s the transmitter was relocated to Hammond near Wolf Lake in an effort to capture a larger Chicago audience. The station went dark at some point (early '80s?) and the license was picked up by whoever was left standing after the Channel 60 and 66 shuffles.

As to the original thread, there's not much more I can add except that northern Will County was wired for cable in 1980-81. We bought the Sportsvision package with the incentive of some free Sox tickets sometime in the early '80s.

chisox77
07-17-2007, 12:54 PM
Many of the posts in this thread are excellent. I lived through this period and remember it very well.

Some thoughts, which are only my opinions:

I was never a Harry Caray fan, and though Jimmy Piersall has a ton of credibility as a player and a man with thorough baseball knowledge, I felt he was a very toxic individual, much of it due to his bipolar condition, and many other factors, which made him difficult for any team to deal with in any capacity.

A change was needed in the booth. I always liked Hawk, even if his insights were wrong. And I liked Drysdale's approach to a game. Even though the Cubs became more popular during this period (with Harry being a strong factor, but not the only factor), I did not lamment this. Whether it was Reinsdorf/Einhorn, DeBartolo, or any other potential owner, there would have been great difficulties with Caray/Piersall, no doubt about it.

Just put yourself into the mindset of an owner,who has been an executive in business, and successful, with much knowledge. Would you, or could you have lived with Caray/Piersall for any length of time? I realize that many fans liked, even loved their honesty, but this was a high maintenance situation with many thorns around it. And no matter what the reasoning is, the broadcasters must never overshadow the product on the field, whether the product is great, good, decent, bad, or awful.

Harry and Jimmy would never have changed, modified, or accepted a proposition or compromise that would have required their egos to be diminished in any way. So the White Sox needed to go in a new direction, regardless of public perceptions and consequences.

:cool:

carguy247
07-17-2007, 12:56 PM
Because Einhorn was totally incompetent and didn't know what he was doing?

I believe he made his money in Real Estate, so he obviously knew that field. But his plans for Pay TV "Sportsvision" for Sox games while the Cubs were free on superstation WGN, plus letting Harry Caray go to the Cubs and firing Jimmy Piersall show that he had no idea how to market a baseball team in a competitive major market city.

Then, on the night the Sox clinched the division in '83, he uses the occasion to say that this proves that Harry Caray and Jimmy Piersall are "scum." Classy move, Eddie.Jerry was real estate. Eddie was tv.

KingXerxes
07-17-2007, 03:13 PM
A change was needed in the booth. I always liked Hawk, even if his insights were wrong. And I liked Drysdale's approach to a game. Even though the Cubs became more popular during this period (with Harry being a strong factor, but not the only factor), I did not lamment this.

I honestly don't think it was during the early 1980's when the Cubs started to gain momentum in this city. I honestly think it was about 15 years prior.

When the White Sox switched over to UHF and the Cubs stayed on WGN, a lot of folks in Chicago had televisions which didn't even pick up UHF signals at the time. The Allyn ownership period went a long way toward pushing the White Sox in back of the Cubs as far as popularity went.

Playing home games in Milwaukee on occasion, UHF, hell in Harry Caray's first year with the club they were broadcast on WTAQ out of La Grange (if my memory serves). You could hardly hear the signal in Brookfield, let alone across the city.

Also I believe one of the Cubs' biggest handicaps (no lights) might have led to why they have such a fan base now. With every game played in the afternoon, Wrigley Field would be absolutely full of little kids (usually screaming "We want a hit!" or "We want an out!"). Well, little kids grow up and have kids of their own, couple that with the fact that WGN was one of the first "Superstations" carried across the country on cable, and there evidently were a hell of a lot of kids sitting infront of their TVs on weekday afternoons watching the games. Basically if you liked baseball, the Cubs had a monopoly on the afternoon version of it across the country, so you watched them.

If anything - present ownership has slowly but surely put the White Sox back on the map (along with Veeck), but they were given quite a hole to dig out of.

doogiec
07-17-2007, 08:09 PM
Also I believe one of the Cubs' biggest handicaps (no lights) might have led to why they have such a fan base now. With every game played in the afternoon, Wrigley Field would be absolutely full of little kids (usually screaming "We want a hit!" or "We want an out!"). Well, little kids grow up and have kids of their own, couple that with the fact that WGN was one of the first "Superstations" carried across the country on cable, and there evidently were a hell of a lot of kids sitting infront of their TVs on weekday afternoons watching the games. Basically if you liked baseball, the Cubs had a monopoly on the afternoon version of it across the country, so you watched them.

If anything - present ownership has slowly but surely put the White Sox back on the map (along with Veeck), but they were given quite a hole to dig out of.

Another reality of the era was the fact that very few teams broadcast more than 60 or so games a year, and few home games. So for fans in most cable markets, the Cubs had at least double the TV exposure of the local team.

During Veeck's second ownership, he had a weekly call in radio show on most Sunday mornings. A frequent fan complaint was the fact that the picture on 44 was poor, or they owned an older TV that didn't get UHF at all. Veeck was always very clear in his answer, the Sox were on 44 because that was the only choice they had.

During Veeck's last year as owner, he frequently mentioned WSNS moving to pay TV, and made it clear that it probably meant the end of Sox games on free TV altogether. He later made the situation even clearer by signing a contract with Cablevision; by signing a contract for very little money that guaranteed little or no exposure in the Chicago market.

When Reinsdorf and Einhorn bought the team in January of 1981, they attempted to get games on free TV after voiding the Cablevision contract. The best they could accomplish was a small number of games on WGN, in a hastily arranged contract just prior to the season. Remember, this was before they had any type of pay TV arrangement, and they didn't have enough time to even consider anything else.

Between Veeck's repeated statements, the garbage Cablevision deal he felt forced to agree to, and the fact that the new owners couldn't get anything done in their first year, I think it was clear that the decision to take games off free TV wasn't made by Einhorn, it was made by the TV market itself. While the Sportsvision idea didn't work, it was at least an attempt to make Sox games available in some manner when the local TV stations had no interest. With cable largely unavailable at the time in Chicago, they made the only choices that had any chance of succeeding.

Fenway
07-18-2007, 08:26 AM
Baseball executives really never understood broadcasting. You would think it would be impossible for Boston to screw up radio and TV but Haywood Sullivan, Buddy LeRioux and Dick O'Connell did a good job of it.

In 1975 the Red Sox changed stations at the end of the regular season meaning the playoffs would be on a new station WMEX. (they had been on WHDH for 30 years ) WMEX had a decent daytime signal on 1510 but at night you could not hear the station at Fenway Park as the signal was clobbered by WKBW on 1520 out of Buffalo. But they had signed a 7 year deal.

Then they compounded things in 1983 when they moved the games to a station owned by a Haywood Sullivan golf buddy, WPLM-FM but as you can see the signal had a slight problem

http://www.radio-locator.com/pats/WPLM_FM_LU.gif

On top of that Haywood fired popular announcer Jon Miller and replaced him with Joe Castlione.

But John Harrington topped it on the TV side. In 1997 the Red Sox moved TV from superstation WSBK to Channel 68 owned by Boston University that had an awful signal. Then in 1999 he gave the TV rights to a former CBS executive who then bought time on Tribune owned Channel 56. NOBODY GOT PAID.

assrevolution
07-19-2007, 01:34 PM
I'm finally able to admit that the Sox have the worst tv/radio announcers in all of sports. Not just baseball. Everything. I'm sure there are curling matches being called better than some of the crap I've had to listen to this year. and Hawk is my favorite of the 4. What does that tell you?