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Didja ever notice how the telecast ended?

Continuing our "Didja ever notice?" series on Game 6 of the 1986 World Series

"A little roller up along first...behind the bag!!! It gets through Buckner!!! Here comes Knight and the Mets win it!!!... ... ... If one picture is worth a thousand words, than you have seen about a million words...but more than that, you have seen an absolutely bizarre finish to Game 6 of the 1986 World Series. The Mets are not only alive, they are well, and they will play the Red Sox in Game 7 tomorrow. Let's go down on the field in this madhouse, to Marv Albert."

That's what NBC broadcaster Vin Scully had to say in describing the final play of the baseball game that took place at Shea Stadium on October 25, 1986. In the space in which there are ellipsis (between the words "Mets win it" and "If one picture," there is a gap, one that lasted three minutes and 23 seconds. In that time, viewers watched the magic of television, as all sorts of fascinating images flashed across the screen. NBC's directorial crew and cameramen did a great job capturing reaction from both teams, as well as the 55,078 fans in attendance.

There's no written record of what Vin Scully did during that time, but I think I can take an educated guess. Scully has a history, in such historic moments, of calmly removing his headset, walking away from the booth, and grabbing a cup of coffee. He doesn't want to do anything that would disturb the viewing experience.

However, while Vin was soothing his throat (perhaps his choice was tea, as that's more useful to a sportscaster in mid-event), all heck was breaking loose. Bob Costas, who was NBC's sideline reporter, has told the story many times of how he was in the Red Sox clubhouse, watching the end of the game with the likes of Red Sox owner Jean Yawkey, as Major League Baseball staff members prepared for the trophy presentation that never occurred. When the contest concluded, MLB staff members hurriedly took down all the celebratory paraphernalia and Costas and crew exited as quickly as they possibly could. After doing so, Costas was faced with a dillemma. He was at the game to interview people, but was in a rather inopportune position, right by Boston's clubhouse of misery. He pondered aloud what he should do.

Unfortunately for NBC, someone didn't realize that Costas' had a live microphone. That's why, if you have an original copy of the telecast, you can hear a voice in the distance say "I don't think I'm going to get anybody." That's Costas, realizing that Bill Buckner, Rich Gedman, Bob Stanley, Calvin Schiraldi, John McNamara and the cast of 1,000 goats is going to be unavailable.

There's some mumbling in the background as what sounds like a producer is saying something to Costas. Of course, no one seems to realize that millions of viewers are being exposed to this discussion. There's about an eight-second pause, after which Costas said "Ask him if he wants me to go over there and..."

There's no record of what Costas said, because at that point, his microphone is wisely cut off. From having sat through the chaos of a baseball game production in a TV truck, I'm going to guess that someone somewhere yelled out "GET COSTAS THE (BLEEP) OFF THE AIR!!!!!"

Thankfully at this point Scully's beverage hunt had concluded (or perhaps he was standing by, patiently waiting for the appropriate moment to de-mute) and he began summarizing for the viewer ever so eloquently. I actually asked to be put on hold upon calling the Dodgers a month ago, such that I could hear the conclusion of one of his calls (that's there version of on-hold music...the operator obliged). I'm thinking of commissioning Scully to soothe me with play-by-play the next time I have to take a trip to the dentist. He is the perfect combination of grace and appreciation for the moment and it's really a shame that he hasn't been seen or heard nationally the last few years. The telecast calmly concludes with Marv Albert interviewing Mookie Wilson and Ray Knight, and Scully and Joe Garagiola wrapping things up. Scully notes that Davey Johnson got "an 11th-hour reprieve" and exclaims with a rare usage of bad grammar "The World Series is home on NBC and ain't we got something!"

As for the cup of coffee, I'd hope that on a night in which the game ended by error, Scully would describe it as "Good to the last drop!"


Anonymous said…
The back page of the Daily News the next morning (at least the edition we got on Long Island) featured a picture of Ray Knight standing by for his interview with Marv Albert. With the game having ended around 12:30 am, there wasn't much opportunity to run much more, I imagine. But it's the only time I can remember a newspaper using as its prime image from a game of that magnitude a picture of a player with a television personality. TV is often accused of lifting reporting from newspapers. This was payback of sorts.

I also remember at least one banner somewhere in there (maybe Game 7) that, in addition to encouraging our Mets, celebrated POWER 95, WPLJ-FM. Another unlikely crossover. 'PLJ must've been offering 95 bucks or something for being spotted with such a placard. Crappy station then, crappy station now.

Usually I enjoy wallowing in 1986, but I'm suddenly overcome with sadness that this October is not that October. Boy I hope we get one of those soon.

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