Center Field Shot


Center Field Shot

A History of Baseball on Television

James R. Walker and Robert V. Bellamy Jr.

402 pages
36 photographs, 3 tables, index


June 2008


$24.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

In Baseball Weekly’s list of things that most affected baseball in the twentieth century, television ranked second—behind only the signing of Jackie Robinson. The new medium of television exposed baseball to a genuinely national audience; altered the financial picture for teams, owners, and players; and changed the way Americans followed the game. Center Field Shot explores these changes—all even more prominent in the first few years of the twenty-first century—and makes sense of their meaning for America’s pastime.
Center Field Shot traces a sometimes contentious but mutually beneficial relationship from the first televised game in 1939 to the new era of Internet broadcasts, satellite radio, and high-definition TV, considered from the perspective of businessmen collecting merchandising fees and advertising rights, franchise owners with ever more money to spend on talent, and broadcasters trying to present a game long considered “unfriendly” to television. Ultimately the association of baseball with television emerges as a reflection of—perhaps even a central feature of—American culture at large.

Author Bio

James R. Walker is professor of communication and chair of the Department of Communications at Saint Xavier University. Robert V. Bellamy Jr. is an associate professor in the Department of Journalism and Multimedia Arts at Duquesne University.


Center Field Shot is a winner. It’s smart, crisply written, and packed with eye-opening research and analysis. I learned something new on every page. Turn off the TV and start reading. I guarantee you’ll be glad you did.”—Jonathan Eig, best-selling author of Luckiest Man: The Life and Death of Lou Gehrig and Opening Day: The Story of Jackie Robinsons First Season

“At last an intensive analysis of this complicated and fascinating phenomenon has been produced. . . . Center Field Shot is at once a fun, engaging read that can be enjoyed in random five-minute snippets, and a serious full-length work of scholarship. Like the very best of television, it informs as it entertains.”—Steve Treder, The Hardball Times

"Center Field Shot: A History of Baseball on Television successfully tells the story of how the sport made a huge breakthrough arriving in people's homes. . . . Walker and Bellamy provide perhaps the definitive history of the evolution of baseball on television without ever getting too scholarly or slipping into fanciful nostalgia."—Josh Marks, Variety

"A well-told story of owners and networks, businessmen and merchandizing. The best part of this history of baseball on television is its revelation of how broadcasters learned a new craft, a new art form." S. Gittleman, Choice

"More than just baseball history shot through a video lens, Center Field Shot is also a history of television shot through the lens of the national pastime."—Roberta Newman, NINE

"Bellamy and Walker offer a cogent and sophisticated analysis of the consequences of television for baseball, both positive and negative. Their work contains much new information and synthesizes the old with the new in meaningful ways. . . . Center Field Shot is a must for anyone interested in the impact of television on American culture, and on baseball, an American sporting institution that once carried the designation of National Pastime."—Richard C. Crepeau, American Studies

Table of Contents


Introduction: The Game in the Box  

Part I: The Local Game

1. The Experimental Years    

2. The First Seasons of Televised Baseball     

3. Team Approaches to Television in the Broadcast Era

Part II: The National Game

4. Televising the World Series     

5. Origins of the Game of the Week 

6. The National Television Package, 1966-89    

7. National Broadcasts in the Cable Era  

8. The Pay Television Era    

Part III: Television and Baseball's Dysfunctional Marriage

9. Television As Threat, Television As Savior  

10. Television and the "Death" of the Golden Age Minors    

11. Baseball, Television, Congress, and the Law

12. Baseball and Television Synergy

Part IV: How the Game Was Covered

13. The Announcer in the Television Age  

14. Innovations in Production Practices  

Epilogue: Baseball in the Advanced Media Age   

Appendix A: Televised Baseball Games, 1949-81  





2008 Society for American Baseball Research Sporting News Award

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