Fathers and grandfathers, take heed: You can stop spinning hyperbolized tales about your childhood sports heroes and cease wondering where Joe DiMaggio has gone. He's on the Classic Sports Network (CSN), and so are a lot of other things that, many years after they happened, are still well worth watching. Chances are your progeny will agree.
Nostalgia combined with an extensive video archive is proving to be an alluring draw for CSN, one of the most promising franchises on the glutted cable-TV landscape. An independently owned network cofounded by Steve Greenberg (son of Hall of Famer Hank) and Brian Bedol, a former senior vice president of Time Warner Enterprises, CSN reaches only 15 million of America's 70 million cable-equipped homes. But it expects to be in 40 million homes by 2000, and, having purchased rights to many sports film and video archives, CSN seems to have plenty of material to hold its audience. For hoops junkies, there's Michael Jordan's game-winning bucket for North Carolina in the '82 NCAA championship game. Baseball lovers can watch the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Yankees battle in the '56 World Series. Football fans can watch the '62 NFL championship game between the Green Bay Packers and the New York Giants. Boxing aficionados can watch Rocky Marciano knock out Archie Moore (above). Yes, there's pro wrestling, but the CSN lineup includes other oddities that are interesting, like The Superstars and Sports Challenge, the '70s trivia show emceed by a sidebum-sporting Dick Enberg.
CSN's first installment of Those Who Changed the Game, which focuses on Lou Brock, Wilt Chamberlain, Joe Namath and Bobby Orr, also shows a touch for original programming. And on Sept. 29 and 30, the network will air a 14-hour marathon of Home Run Derby, hosted by none other than Albert Belle. Any outfit that can make that guy camera-friendly must be on to something.