Monday, July 10, 2017

What Might've Been: Home Run Derby (1960)

With Major League Baseball's annual Home Run Derby taking place tonight in Miami, let's take a look back at when there was a TV series that featured the biggest sluggers of their day competing for cash prizes.

Home Run Derby, a syndicated series that ran during the 1st half of 1960, but taped in September 1959 in Los Angeles, was equal parts game show (because of the cash bonuses) and athletic competition, a forerunner, if you will, to today's annual exhibitions on the eve of the All-Star Game. Actor-broadcaster Mark Scott was the host, and chatted amicably with each player while the opponent was in the batter's box.

Unfortunately, Scott passed away before production could begin on a prospective 2nd season, and so Ziv, which packaged the series, decided to end it.

In later years, ESPN acquired the series, and aired the reruns for a brief period. The series would later move to ESPN Classic. Today, MGM, and, by extension, Sony, owns the series, so you wonder if MLB might have to pay royalties for their annual competition.

Anyway, let's go back to January 1960, and the series premiere, featuring future Hall of Famers Mickey Mantle & Willie Mays. Play ball!

The "other" Wrigley Field, in Los Angeles, was the site of the show. I wonder what they'd have done if the series went "on tour", if you will, to other major league parks during the off-season for tapings.......

Rating: A.

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