Posted by Travis Doucette, CatchTheTaste, Angela Grace Carriere and boobycluck.
It seems like there’s at least one “hate tweet” directed at Buck Martinez and Pat Tabler during every Blue Jays game. Sometimes, it’s appropriate constructive criticism. Sometimes, it’s over the top and unnecessary. Regardless, this running critique of the Sportsnet broadcast team recently inspired me to reflect on what Jays games use to look like on television.
When I was a child, the Jays’ television rights were usually divided among three networks: CTV, TSN and CBC. Sportsnet didn’t exist back then. Since my house didn’t have cable TV (go rabbit ears!), I could only watch games on CTV and CBC.
The CTV broadcasts hold a special place in my heart. The first time I ever watched the Blue Jays, it was on CTV. The first time I ever watched the All-Star game and World Series, it was on CTV. Every Wednesday night at 7:30pm, I would turn the channel to CTV’s Toronto affiliate – CFTO, Channel 9, Cable 8 – and watch Labatt’s Blue Jays Baseball. Wednesday night was easily my favourite night.
Sadly, there doesn’t appear to be a website the chronicles the history of the Jays on television. Therefore, I have to rely on Wikipedia and my memory.
CTV aired games from 1981-1996. The broadcast would feature on-field reporter Fergie Olver, who usually started things off with “How about those Blue Jays!” Colour commentary was first provided by Tony Kubek and later by Tommy Hutton, who currently works on the Miami Marlins’ broadcasts. Play-by-play duties were handled by the late Don Chevrier.
Chevrier was a versatile broadcaster. He was knowledgeable and had a great voice. It’s a shame most fans born after 1993 missed out on watching him call games.
The clips in this post represent what a CTV broadcast looked like.
The first clip is a promo for an upcoming game. The second clip features a video intro, graphics and one of the theme songs. Clip three features different graphics, plus live intros from Olver, Chevrier and Kubek.
The final clip is a half-inning from the May 1, 1991 broadcast – Nolan Ryan’s seventh no-hitter. One common trait of a CTV broadcast would be taped interviews conducted by Olver that would occasionally play between at-bats. Chevrier and Hutton provide the play-by-play and commentary.
You’ll also notice how Ryan dominated the Jays that faithful evening. It also helps when the home plate ump has a generous strike zone. Not that Ryan needed it, of course ;)
Eric aka @TheHek