SBJ/June 18 - 24, 2001/This Weeks Issue

TV special salutes as league hits 100

The Sporting News is teaming with Major League Baseball to create a television special next month that will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the American League.

It's fitting that The Sporting News is involved. The publication, founded in 1886, provided support editorially for Ban Johnson's efforts 100 years ago to create a second major baseball league, which was the American League.

"Sporting News and Major League Baseball Celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the American League" will air on Fox, running from 1 to 2 p.m. July 8, two days before the All-Star Game.

Major League Baseball Productions is producing the show, whose host will be Fox baseball announcer Joe Buck. To air the special, The Sporting News and MLB bought the programming time from Fox. TSN and MLB are jointly handling the program's sponsorship sales, said Stuart Marvin, TSN's vice president of marketing.

TSN and MLB are looking to sell integrated sponsorship packages that include commercial time on the TV special, ad time on Sporting News Radio, print ads in the magazine and an online presence, Marvin said. Also tying into the special is a consumer sweepstakes, whose prizes include American League memorabilia. He would not disclose the dollar value of packages, but sources said the cost is $200,000 and up, depending on how extensive the buy is.

TSN and MLB are closing in on a couple of integrated sponsorship deals, Marvin said.

"The 100th Anniversary of the American League" will open with a segment titled "100 years in 100 seconds." Other segments will take a look at the first 20 years of the league; the impact of Ty Cobb; the influence of Babe Ruth, who saved baseball in the wake of the Black Sox scandal; the evolution of American League teams; six seasons that define the league; the league's all-time best teams; characters of the game, such as Bill Veeck, Mark Fidrych and Bill "Spaceman" Lee; superb individual accomplishments; and the top 10 moments in American League history.

David Gavant, vice president and executive producer of MLB Productions, is the executive producer overseeing the project. David Check, senior coordinating producer at MLB Productions, and Jeff Spaulding, senior producer at MLB Productions, are the day-to-day producers for the project.

"We've gone back and unearthed a lot of vintage film and transferred it to a digital format" to use in the TV special, Check said. For example, there's film of Lou Gehrig talking about his batting stance.

The show will feature a host of new interviews, including one with Ty Cobb's only living teammate, who is 97 years old.

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Fox, MLB, This Week's Issue, TSN

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