Not the first time TV has messed up — and it won’t be the last!

On Saturday,  the Red Sox were hosting the Yankees,  and were hanging on to a precarious lead.    There had been a long rain delay,   but the teams came out to finish the game.

The problem was,  that the game ran so long,  that it came up against the start of a NASCAR race.    So the powers-that-be at FOX opted to pull the game,  with Paps pitching in the top of the 9th.

Sheer genius.   And then,  the disclaimer,  if you are a cable subscriber,  to go to the F/X cable channel.    And away to NASCAR.    But to talk about historic TV sports screw-ups, three historical incidents come to mind.


The infamous “Heidi” game – NBC-TV pulls the plug,  viewers miss a comeback

This took place on November 17, 1968,  and involved the New York Jets and Oakland Raiders of the (then) American Football League.       For those of you who weren’t around then,  the Jets took the lead at 32-29,  with 1:05 left.    Oakland took the return kickoff.   NBC-TV made the decision – pull the plug on the game for viewers east of the Mississippi,  and go to a special telecast of a classic tale, “Heidi”.

By the way,  Oakland won the game 43-32,    They scored two touchdowns in the last minute.  You can read more about it here =


A judge allegedly smokes a funny cigarette,  his career plans,  and the BC-Notre Dame game get smoked out….

Another incident – a BC-Notre Dame football game — was locally broadcast on WCVB-TV by a regional network on November 8, 1987. The game was in South Bend, and was reaching a critical third-quarter juncture. At that point, ABC News had a special announcement — and channel 5 chose to bump the football game off and go with the hot news flash.

The “hot news item”?? A federal judge (Douglas Ginsburg) had been submitted as a Supreme Court nominee but wanted to withdraw his nomination over an alleged pot-smoking incident. Earth-shattering. BC and ND fans really cared about that one, right?


Havlicek goes out with a great run,  a great bow,  and a great ovation — that no one saw.

On April 9, 1978. John Havlicek played his last game in Boston Garden. In the last two minutes of the game, Hondo scores eight points, and is taken out by coach Tom Sanders with a few seconds left so the crowd can give him one final thundering ovation. But only the reported 14,890 (actually , closer to 18,000) in the Garden saw this dramatic moment, because CBS-TV had opted to cut away from the scene to go to a golf tournament.


Other gaffes deserving of dishonorable mention –

February 22, 1980 – Lake Placid Olympics – ABC-TV refused to allow TV stations live coverage of the USA-USSR medal round hockey match. The game started at 5 pm in Lake Placid.  This ended up being one of the greatest sporting events of the 20th century, but it had very little TV lustre when it ran here.  Most New England viewers already knew that the United States had won the game, 4-3..

1994 – Lillehammer Olympics – CBS-TV had the controls here, and would not permit live broadcast of the Oksana Baiul – Nancy Kerrigan women’s figure skating final showdown. Although,  it’s not known if any affiliates askd for it.   Back in those days, many New England viewers had Canadian television broadcasts on their cable systems, and the news spread quickly, and the drama of the prime-time telecast was diminished.

So yesterday’s game cutoff was minor.

And what about all those folks who’d rather watch NASCAR?  Huh?   What about them?   Now tell me honestly — what would you rather do,   see Paps mow down the Yanks,   or watch cars go around in circles?