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THE NOCTURNAL GAME
Baseball traditionalists, such as our own William Leggett (page 101), are strongly against the television-inspired decision to shift Game No. 2 of this year's World Series from Sunday afternoon to Sunday night. The trouble is that the traditionalists are a distinct minority among baseball fans, most of whom now prefer World Series games to be at night. This was demonstrated last year when the Cincinnati-Boston games played in the afternoon were relative flops—so far as numbers watching on TV were concerned—compared to those at night, even though the day games were on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, supposedly ideal times for televised sports. The seventh game, played on a Wednesday night, attracted an estimated total audience of 75.9 million people, the biggest in U.S. television history (and more than 800 times the size of the biggest crowd—92,706, Dodgers-White Sox, World Series, Los Angeles Coliseum, Oct. 6, 1959—ever to see a big-league game in the flesh).
More to the point, that Wednesday night game drew 33 to 41 million more people to their TV sets than did the Saturday and Sunday games. It was in hopes of reaching such a much larger audience that NBC persuaded baseball to take the radical step of switching from Sunday afternoon to Sunday night. Leggett feels baseball is making a mistake in doing this, and he may well be right. On the other hand, if the ratings turn out to be as striking as NBC expects, even in the face of Sunday night prime-time competition on the other networks, all future World Series games are likely to be nocturnal. So much for tradition.
"I should like to bring to your attention a surprising development in the Philadelphia-Washington game," writes Mr. Wilheim. "With Philadelphia behind 17-10 and just over one minute to go in regulation time, Charlie Smith of the Eagles caught a touchdown pass and did not: a) spike the ball, b) drop it back over his shoulder, c) toss it into the stands or d) get down on his knees and roll it. Instead, he put it under his arm and walked toward the bench.
" Mr. Smith's action, it seems to me, smacks of genius. Who would have thought, at this late date, that there remained such creative avenues in end-zone celebrations? I envision an entirely new trend in post-touchdown rituals from this brilliant start. Mr. Smith is to be commended."
Y.A., Y TEAR, WHY KICK
It used to be that a pro football fan could impress people with his inside knowledge by dropping terms like "blitz" and "red dog," but the game's jargon has long since become far more complex than that, perhaps unnecessarily so. Y.A. Tittle, the old quarterback, recalls that when he was playing pro ball his team once ran a play that was described in the huddle as "Red Up Right, Y Tear, X Open, 29 Near, G-O On Two." Said Tittle, "When I was a kid in Marshall, Texas, we had the exact identical play. We called it 'End run right, on two.' "