Baseball has certain characteristics and color TV has certain shortcomings which don't mix well at all. The shadow that creeps across the infield, or the sudden shift of interest from the plate to center field, are precisely the kind of thing that the color camera is hard put to deal with. Still, it was inevitable that the great new medium would be focused on the grand old spectacle, and it was; and the fans who watched the first two World Series games on color sets received, along with the games, several impressions that weren't exactly baseball.
Sometimes, as the camera swung to follow a fly ball, the game disappeared in an explosion of colored light. After the stadium shadow got out to first base, the players there and the umpire seemed to be standing shin-deep in a swift-flowing, deep-blue trout stream. Beyond them, the shadow was edged with a brilliant red border, and beyond that the grass was aquarium green, or sometimes Kentucky blue.
The Yankee players, in their white home uniforms, transmitted better than the gray-suited Braves. The red trim on the Milwaukee uniforms sometimes appeared to be detached and hovering in the air, two or three feet nearer the viewer than the man who was wearing it.
Reception—and reaction—varied, of course, with the receiving set. A sign in a bar on New York's Third Avenue offered, "See the World Series in Color." But the bartender volunteered that, having attracted his customers, he had been obliged to switch to black-and-white TV to keep them happy.
"Where the infield was in the shade you couldn't see the pitch. You couldn't see nothin'! It was like a night game without no lights. So I changed over to black and white. After all, we wanted to see the game."
But many a fan had better luck than that and stayed with both games in color all the way. Despite the sudden flashes of abstract design, the unworldly colors and electronic rainbows, the thing transmitted was unmistakably baseball.
The devious mind of Sugar Ray Robinson is expert in the useful art of slipping out of tight spots, in or out of the ring. Sugar gets himself into spots, mostly with his tongue, but he gets himself out of them, too. Last week he put the New York State boxing commission in the delicate position of deciding, as it seemed to somewhat bemused observers, that Sugar Ray's word was preferable to that of reputable newspapermen. It was a virtuoso performance on all sides.
Less than a week before he lost his middleweight title to Carmen Basilio, Sugar Ray told Mike Wallace, a TV interviewer who also does a newspaper column, that he had been offered "quite a few large sums of money" to take dives. This went on all through his career, he repeated and elaborated in the presence of some 15 newspapermen. "I have had many offers of bribes throughout my career," he said proudly, "including one by a man still prominent in boxing."
Hauled before the commission, as he had been when he made somewhat the same statement in 1947, Sugar Ray vowed he had been "misinterpreted," which is a graceful avoidance of the word "misquoted." From time to time, he said, "cracks" would be made in his presence to the effect that he could make more money losing than winning, but no direct bribe offers ever had been made and anyone who said he had said that was misinterpreting him, regardless of what he had said.