Every day, ESPN records almost every televised sporting event around the world, according to Ken Boudreau, the network’s senior director of production operations
But when it comes to a little-watched game from 1979 that happens to be the first professional sporting event to ever air on ESPN, Boudreau has an embarrassing admission.
“We have no idea where they are,” Boudreau said to his colleague, Jeremy Schaap, as part of an E:60 special. “We did not retain a copy of them.”
ESPN will air the special episode of E:60, which looks into what happened to that 40-year-old broadcast of Game 1 of the 1979 American Professional Slow Pitch Softball World Series, where the Kentucky Bourbons routed the Milwaukee Schlitz 15-5.
“I’d given notice, leaving my secure job [for ESPN], and this is going to be a big-time sports network, and here comes ... softball,” said Bob Ley, who recently retired from the network.
In an attempt to find the lost game tape, Schaap and the E:60 crew spoke to nearly 50 people about what happened on that first day, including Boudreau and every original ESPN employee still working for the company (co-workers refer to them as “The ‘79ers”). In the process, they unearthed footage from the network’s humble beginnings no one has seen in 40 years, including skunks on set and porta-potties outside the network’s main office in Bristol, Conn., which at the time had no plumbing or running water.
“You actually had to wear a hard hat to go to the commode,” said video engineer Chuck Pagano.
I won’t reveal how the search turns out, though it involves a trip to Glendale, Wis., and a bag of Christmas ornaments. And while Game 1 of the softball matchup might have gone missing from the network’s archives, here’s footage from ESPN’s broadcast of the Game 3 of the series, which aired a few days later following an introduction by original SportsCenter anchor George Grande.
Eagles want to be the ‘Netflix’ of the NFL
If you were waiting for Eagles wide receiver Nelson Agholor to get his own cooking show, then have I got the network for you.
The Birds are launching an original-content initiative called Eagles Entertainment that will feature shows, documentaries, and more podcasts, reports Front Page Office’s Mike McCarthy. According to Jen Kavanagh, the team’s senior vice president of media and marketing, the goal is to keep Eagles fans entertained and engaged during the seven months the team isn’t on the field.
Among the initial offerings will be a three-part series about South Philadelphia native Patience Carter, who survived the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando in 2016 that claimed 49 lives. There will also be Agholor’s cooking show, an eight-part series filmed alongside Food Network star Robert Irvine, who has become something of a die-hard Eagles fan.
No release dates have been announced, but fans will be able to watch the shows on the Eagles’ mobile app, the team’s official website, and the Birds’ official Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube channels.
The Eagles also expanded the role of former Sixers sideline reporter Molly Sullivan, who was hired by the team last year. In addition to her training camp duties, Sullivan will report on the team every day from practice.
• Alex Rodriguez will get one more chance to call a Phillies game. ESPN will end its 30th season of Sunday Night Baseball with Phillies-Indians on Sept. 22. Just a reminder that this season alone A-Rod referred to a cheesesteak as a “cheese sandwich,” called out Phillies manager Gabe Kapler’s decision making, and confused fans by insisting even leads are better than odd leads.
• The Big Ten Network will premiere a new documentary series Tuesday at 8 p.m. called The B1G Story. The first episode focuses on analyst and for NFL general manager Matt Millen, who returned to the booth this season after undergoing a successful heart transplant last December. In 2017, he was diagnosed with amyloidosis, a rare disease caused by the buildup of an abnormal protein that affects different organs in different people.
Millen will also call the Buccaneers-Titans match-up in Week 8 for CBS alongside Kevin Kugler and sideline reporter Shane Bacon.
• The Giants lost badly to the Cowboys on Sunday, and Star-Ledger sports columnist Steve Politi had a great headline that summed up the state of the franchise: Well, the Giants stink again, but their culture is just outstanding!