On August 26, 1939, a Major League Baseball game between the Cincinnati Reds and the Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, New York was the first game to be broadcast via the television, according to The History Channel.
W2XBS in New York City, now WNBC-TV, broadcast a doubleheader. The games were announced by Walter Lanier “Red’’ Barber, with only two cameras used to film.
With the technology still in its infacy at the time, regular television programming did not yet exist. According to an article in The New York Times from the day of the television broadcast:
“The double-header marked major league baseball’s television debut before two prying ‘eyes’ of station W2XBS in the Empire State Building. One ‘eye’ or camera was placed near the visiting players’ dugout, or behind the right-hand batters’ position. The other was in a secondtier box back of the catcher’s box and commanded an extensive view of the field when outfield plays were made.’’
The Times also mentioned:
“Over the video-sound channels of the station, television-set owners as far away as fifty miles viewed the action and heard the roar of the crowd, according to the National Broadcasting Company. It was not the first time baseball was televised by the NBC. Last May at Baker Field a game between Columbia and Princeton was caught by the cameras. However, to those who, over the television receivers, saw last May’s contest as well as those of today, it was apparent that considerable progress has been made in the technical requirements and apparatus for this sort of outdoor pick-up, where the action is fast.’’
According to NPR, there were 33,000 people at Ebbets Field on that day. About 3,000 people watched the games on television.
The Reds beat the Dodgers, 5-2, in the first game and the Dodgers came back to win the second game, 6-1.