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Let's Go to the Videotape: The 1973 World Series

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This may come as a shock to you, but people did things differently in the past than they do now. It's true! For example, let's take, oh, I don't know, sports telecasts. Nowadays, games are punctuated by sideline reporters, incessant graphics, and banter-filled broadcasts booths that usually feature three different announcers.

'Twas not always thus. Take this opening from the 1973 World Series featuring the Oakland A's and the New York Mets for instance. What strikes me more than anything else in this footage (other than the suits) is how low-key it all is. The World Series was just as huge deal then as it is now; in fact, it was probably a bigger deal in 1973 than 2012. And yet, the amount of hype and pomp & circumstance you will see in this video is infinitesimal compared to modern broadcasts. It is almost eerie how chill the proceedings seem in comparison to what we've come to expect from Major Sports Events.

It starts with a brief intro from longtime NBC Sports color man Joe Garagiola, delivering a monologue about TENSION that sounds vaguely improvised (or at least ill rehearsed). We are then whisked to Oakland Coliseum, where Curt Gowdy and A's announcer Monte Moore give a quick overview of the team's respective strengths.

During team introductions, I was struck by how little animus was directed by the Oakland crowd toward the Mets. Reflexively booing the opposing team is a relatively new phenomenon, I believe. In fact, when the visitors take the field (sporting some sweet away unis), they receive more than polite applause. This is particularly true for manager Yogi Berra and center fielder Willie Mays, who played so much of his career across the bay at Candlestick Park. This game marks his last major league start. Bud Harrelson gets a healthy greeting as well, perhaps for his scrape with Pete Rose in the NLCS?

The reception for the home team is more boisterous, of course, but still subdued by today's standards. You can also hear several noises from the crowd that seem to emanate from proto-vuvuzelas. Following the player intros, we get a stirring rendition of the National Anthem sung by Jim Nabors (aka Gomer Pyle), and a ceremonial first pitch from Hank Aaron, who ended the 1973 season just one homer shy of tying Babe Ruth's all-time record. But even Aaron's reception is decidedly muted by today's standards. I guess back then, people didn't express respect and admiration by screaming WOO-HOO! at the top of their lungs.

All in all, a fascinating time capsule of what the World Series--and fans' reactions thereto--looked and sounded like almost 40 years ago.

As a bonus, please enjoy this audio from Kiner's Korner following the Mets' shocking upset of the Cincinnati Reds in the 1973 NLCS. The interviews are great, but so are the barely audible screams of the players in the background. Ralph Kiner sounds pretty keyed up, too, his voice pitched somewhere between joy and terror.