WGN, an independent TV station in Chicago owned by Tribune, is celebrating 70 years as “Chicago’s Very Own” with a one-hour special Thursday night at 8.
Hosted by Tom Skilling and other WGN News anchors/reporters, the special will examine the station’s long-running sports history, major events and stories the station has covered over the years, its children’s programming and community involvement.
Monday, April 16, marks the 70th anniversary of the first baseball telecast on WGN.
Here’s an excerpt from a sports blog about that game. Click here to read the entire blog about the game and the history of broadcasting baseball games on television.
In February 1948, WGN-TV (run by Jake Israel) began running text broadcasts before its first regular broadcast on April 5 with the WGN-TV Salute to Chicago two-hour special.
Originally, WGN-TV operated from the Tribune Tower in downtown Chicago before moving to North Bradley Place in the North Center neighborhood of the city in 1961.
After seeing the success of the 1947 World Series and the station launching just in time for baseball season, WGN-TV decided to air an exhibition game between the city’s two teams. On April 16, 1948, the Chicago Cubs hosted their crosstown rival Chicago White Sox in an exhibition game at Wrigley Field.
That first game was called by the legendary Jack Brickhouse, who would announce baseball games for the station for the next 33 years.
The Cubs’ starting pitcher was Hank Borowy against White Sox starter Joe Haynes. A little over 9,200 fans withstood chilly 45-degree temperatures to watch the game. This was the fourth exhibition game between them that year and the Cubs won two of the first three.
It was the White Sox who would get the better of the “North Siders” at Wrigley Field on this day to even the series between them that year.
In the top half of the first inning, Borowy could hardly throw a strike and walked four White Sox batters. An error by Cubs second baseman Henry Schenz also contributed to the White Sox taking advantage by scoring three runs in the opening inning.
Those three runs were all that Haynes needed for the White Sox as he pitched six innings for the “South Siders”. He along with reliever Earl Harrist allowed five Cub hits and one run in the game.
Borowy would pitch seven innings and allowed four of the five White Sox hits in the game. But it was his wildness in the first inning that allowed the White Sox an early lead and eventual 4-1 win over the Cubs.
The Cubs would finish the 1948 season in last place with a 64-90 record. The White Sox were even worse finishing dead last with a 51-101 record that year.
Beginning in 1948, WGN-TV would broadcast all Cubs and White Sox home games.