This Day in White Sox History: SportsVision debuts

This Day in White Sox History: SportsVision debuts
The SportsVision logo. SportsVision was a premium television channel founded by Jerry Reinsdorf and Eddie Einhorn in 1982. (The Museum of Classic Chicago Television)

May 13, 1957 - Sox pitcher Billy Pierce became the first member of the team to ever appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated. The caption read, “Pride Of Chicago, Billy Pierce.” In 1957, the year the magazine cover came out; Pierce went 20-12 with an ERA of 3.26. It was his second straight 20 win season.

May 13, 1975 - Sox pitcher Jim Kaat’s 12 game winning streak ended as he was beaten 3-2 in Baltimore.  Kaat had won his first five decisions in 1975 and his final seven decisions in 1974. He’d become a twenty game winner in both seasons averaging 290 innings pitched in those years. He’d also make the All-Star team in 1975. Kaat gave a lot of credit for his success to Sox pitching coach Johnny Sain when I spoke with him. “It went back to Johnny. He tried to put a pitcher at ease with what he was doing. He had a saying that every time you go out there you should feel like you’re 10-0. If you lose the game, big deal, you’re 10-1. So many pitchers would go out there thinking they were 0-10 and they’d put so much extra pressure on themselves that they couldn’t pitch.” 

May 13, 1982 - SportsVision made its debut. The first pay cable service devoted exclusively to sports began operations with a game at Comiskey Park versus Milwaukee. The service was the brainchild of Sox co-owner Eddie Einhorn and while brilliant, was ahead of its time. The technology wasn’t there and more importantly, the attitude on the part of the fans wasn’t ready to pay for something they had been getting for free all their lives.

At best roughly 20,000 fans subscribed to it. The decision to go to a pay service caused popular announcer Harry Caray to leave the team after 11 seasons and go to the Cubs despite an offer by the Sox that was worth more before the 1982 season began. Sportsvision, in its original version, lasted until the end of 1983 then it was sold to the Cablevision Company and turned into SportsChannel-Chicago.

For a more complete look at the history of SportsVision and its impact on the White Sox and on television sports click here: http://www.chicagonow.com/soxnet/2016/01/the-legacy-of-sportsvision/

Want to read up on the White Sox farm system and stars of tomorrow? Check out Future Sox.

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