Another time, an actor was supposed to drink from a decanter of wine, not knowing it had been poisoned. Under a spotlight it had grown boiling hot, and as he took a swig he let out a screech and gave a vivid demonstration of the death throes from drinking hot, poisoned wine. Another time, a shot was to shatter a lamp on a table. In the rehearsals the lamp shattered on schedule. But when the show was on the air nothing happened. So the actors ad libbed a whole new conclusion to the drama. They had just brought it off and were congratulating themselves when the curtain came down, and all at once the lamp shattered.
It was such incidents as these that had many TV people placing all their faith in outdoor shows. Despite the dreary Columbia-Princeton performance, Tom Hutchinson, NBC's program manager, said, "This signals the beginning of an important development in the art of pictures through the air, for outdoor sports will furnish much of the most interesting material we could televise." Together with John Royal, then vice-president in charge of television development for NBC, Hutchinson is generally credited with pioneering in sports television. But most of the original crew that broadcast the Dodger-Reds double-header went on to distinguished careers. Harold See, the chief engineer at the field, is now general manager of a television station in San Francisco. Crotty, who began in NBC as a $56-a-month mail room clerk, is vice-president of an advertising company. In that day, most television cameramen were engineers, and as improvements were made on the field they went into technical work, and most of them are now directors or supervisors of departments in NBC.
Immediately after the Brooklyn- Cincinnati telecast the prevailing skepticism about the future of such programs ended. The Times, apparently forgetting its first bearish reactions, reported a great technical improvement since the college game. It commented favorably on the TV technicians' increased skills.
Sports events, even including a few more big league games in 1940, continued to be televised intermittently up to Pearl Harbor. Television marked time during the war years, but by the end of 1946 there were 14,000 television receiving sets in homes in the United States and five stations. Crotty says that it was the big World Series after the war that put television over. The seven-game St. Louis-Boston Series in 1946, followed by the Dodger-Yankee seven-game Series the next year, changed the average citizen's view of television, changed the television set from a curiosity to a household necessity.
The statistics seem to bear him out. The number of television sets in homes jumped to 940,000 in 1948 and to 3,825,000 in 1949. By 1951 the figure was 10,270,000, receiving from 108 stations, and the increase continued at the same rate to 50 million (and 570 stations) by 1959. When the first major league game was broadcast, one bold prediction (LIFE) was that within 10 years as many as 10 million viewers might watch a World Series on television. The estimated number watching the 1958 Series was 60 million.