The set could have collapsed under the weight of their wallets, but Home Box Office gathered an elite group of sportscasters -- Bob Costas, Curt Gowdy, Jim Lampley, Jim McKay, Brent Musburger and Pat Summerall -- to be hosts of "Play by Play: A History of Sports Television." The two-part series (Game 1 and Game 2, how clever) debuts Tuesday at 10 p.m., with Game 2's first airing Dec. 10 at 10 p.m.
Though much of Game 1 contained familiar scenes -- Bob Beamon's long jump, Al Gionfriddo's catch, Bobby Thomson's homer, North Carolina State's last-second, NCAA championship victory over Houston -- there are some unexpected touches:
* Frank Gifford's recalling a 1956 appearance as a mystery guest on "What's My Line?" on which the panel needed no masks, because hardly anyone recognized a pro football player in those days.
* Dennis James on his career as a pro wrestling announcer.
* Summerall's telling of CBS' famous shot in the 1967 NFL title game -- Jerry Kramer's block on Jethro Pugh in icy Green Bay -- the result of a camera's being frozen in position.
* George Foreman's dragging boxing about as low as it could go -- taking on five opponents in one night while being taunted by Muhammad Ali at ringside.
The hourlong program isn't perfect -- that Russ Hodges call on Thomson's homer, for example, was on radio, not TV -- but it's an entertaining way to jog your memory.
Sure, you could run up phone charges by calling the 900 number for Bambi and the Fun Girls Sitting in a Hot Tub Wearing Nothing but Bubbles, but why bother? Thanks to TEAMLINE, you can spend about $33 listening to a college basketball game.
TRZ Sports Services has a service through which fans can hear play-by-play of their favorite teams. Just dial an 800 number, give your credit card number and away you go toward incurring interest charges in the name of old State U. TRZ says an average game costs $32.95.
There are 135 schools to choose from, ranging from Kentucky and Indiana to Coastal Carolina and East Texas State. The toll-free informa
tion line is (800) 225-5321.
Here's a twist to pay-per-view: Organizers of the 1994 World Cup soccer tournament in the United States are anticipating such little interest from major broadcast and cable networks that they are considering purchasing air time themselves.
"We were pretty realistic from Day 1 that no one would overwhelm us with an enormous package for U.S. rights," said Alan Rothenberg, chairman of the U.S. Soccer Federation and of World Cup USA 1994.
"We basically put it to them both ways: Tell us what you're willing to pay us and tell us what you would charge us to buy time."
Channel 2 will salute Cal Ripken's hardware haul of a season tomorrow at 6:30 p.m. with "Cal Ripken Jr.: Pride of the Orioles," a half-hour show with host Scott Garceau. . . . NBC is carrying the Bayou Classic football game between Grambling and Southern tomorrow (channels 2, 4, 2:30 p.m.). . . . The Skins Game -- in which four big-name golfers compete in a simulated gambling format, except the money isn't
theirs -- is on ABC this weekend (channels 13, 7, 3:30 p.m. tomorrow, 1 p.m. Sunday).
The boss went away for Thanksgiving, so I thought there would be no questions this week. But I should have been suspicious when he gave me that turkey. I sat down to dinner, started carving and there, hidden inside the bird, was his list of things he wanted to know. Talk about indigestion.
Things My Boss Wants to Know: Does "George Michael's Sports Machine" have to meet federal emissions standards?. . . Does ABC employ someone to pick up all those g's that Keith Jackson drops?. . . Is it true that local men's stores pay Sun columnist Mike Littwin to ensure he doesn't say he's wearing their clothes when he appears on "Sports Beat"?