|Barton Silverman/The New York Times |
After watching Mantle’s slide, Keith
Hernandez, the Mets’ analyst on SNY,
said, “It was like the elephant
and the gazelle.”
New York Times
September 30, 2010
The play - a pivotal moment in Game 7 of the 1960 World Series - demanded expert analysis.
But when Mickey Mantle slid headfirst back into first base in the top of the ninth inning to avoid a game-ending double play and allow the tying run to score, there was no analyst working in the TV booth with Mel Allen at Forbes Field. There was no one to set up the situation beforehand nor to break down the play after it occurred. There was only one live camera angle and no instant replay.
It was a different world then, and a much simpler one. Allen and Bob Prince made up the World Series TV pairing - one play-by-play announcer from each team, each calling half the game. It was Allen's turn in Game 7 to call the second set of four and a half innings.
"The old way depended largely on the skill and panache of the local-team announcers" who knew the teams well, said Curt Smith, a sportscasting historian.
Today, that legendary ninth inning, which began with the Yankees tying the score at 9-9 and ended with Bill Mazeroski's home run winning the Series for Pittsburgh, would have been produced far differently on television.
In the top of the ninth, with the Yankees trailing by 9-8 and with one out, Mantle on first and Gil McDougald on third, today's cameras would have made clear whether the Pirates' infielders were at double-play depth or playing in for a play at the plate. The broadcasters would have debated which of the two was the right strategy. To enhance the end-of-game tension, there would have been rapid camera cuts to Mantle and McDougald, to Yogi Berra at bat and to Harvey Haddix on the mound.
And the dramatic, and confounding, play that followed - Berra's sharp grounder to first baseman Rocky Nelson for the second out; Mantle's subsequent elusiveness, moxie and perhaps outright recklessness in then diving safely under Nelson and back into first as the tying run scored - would be synchronized on a split screen and then examined and re-examined. Questions would be asked, answered and asked all over again, on the broadcast.
The 50-year-old kinescope of the game - which The New York Times reported last week was found in Bing Crosby's old wine cellar - does not do any of that. Why, for instance, didn't Nelson, upon fielding Berra's grounder, throw to second to start a double play that would have ended the game?