Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Keith Jackson and ABC conflicts with college FB and MLB playoffs (1976-1986)

Keith Jackson became the #1 college football announcer on ABC in 1974. Starting in 1976, ABC also held a share of the baseball TV package and used Jackson on its postseason MLB coverage. This resulted in some interesting scenarios on October Saturdays which featured both playoff baseball and college football on ABC. And there was no consistent pattern in the way ABC juggled these assignments. Here is a summary of how ABC and Jackson handled these conflicts year-by-year:

1976: ABC assigned Keith to the ALCS (along with Reggie Jackson and Howard Cosell) and that series opened on Sat 10/9. However, that day Keith instead called the Oklahoma-Texas football game while Bob Uecker substituted on play-by-play for game 1 of the ALCS in Kansas City. Keith called the remainder of the ALCS.

1977: Jackson was part of the ABC World Series crew with Tom Seaver and Cosell. On Sat 10/15, Jackson called World Series game 4. Earlier that afternoon, Chris Schenkel filled in for Keith on football and called the Texas-Arkansas game with Ara Parseghian.

1978: ABC and Jackson pulled an interesting stunt. ABC put Keith on the ALCS and he worked the first three games (with Jim Palmer and Cosell). Things got interesting on Sat 10/7. That day, Keith called Oklahoma-Texas (which started at 12:30 pm ET) with Frank Broyles. After the football game, he flew from Dallas to New York on a Lear jet that ABC had hired. ABC arranged for a police escort for Jackson from the Cotton Bowl to the Dallas airport and an ambulance to take him to Yankee Stadium (as ABC was unable to line up another police escort). Jackson arrived just in time to call ALCS game 4 (which started at 8 pm ET) that night.

1979: ABC used Jackson and Al Michaels as co-#1 announcers on the World Series (with Don Drysdale and Cosell), Jackson called games 1,2,6, and 7 in Baltimore while Michaels handled the middle three games over the weekend in Pittsburgh. This arrangement allowed Keith to call Oklahoma-Texas on Sat 10/13 with Broyles.

1980: Jackson again pulled a form of double-duty. ABC assigned Jackson to the NLCS with Drysdale and Cosell. On Sat 10/11, Jackson called Oklahoma-Texas with Broyles (which started at 12:30 pm ET). He then hopped a flight from Dallas to Houston and reached the Astrodome while NLCS game 4 (which started at 4 pm ET) was in progress. Drysdale called play-by-play for the first several innings. Keith joined the telecast about halfway through and called the action for the remainder of the game with Drysdale shifting back to an analyst role.

1981: ABC assigned Jackson to the AL East division series with Drysdale and Cosell. However, on Sat 10/10, Keith called Oklahoma-Texas with Broyles instead of game 4 of the MLB series. The duo of Drysdale and Cosell worked the baseball game with Don handling the play-by-play in Keith's absence. Jackson returned to New York for game 5 the next day. ABC also had the World Series this season and used the same arrangement as in 1979 with Jackson calling weekday games and Michaels handling the weekend. This allowed Keith to call Nebraska-Missouri on Sat 10/24.

1982: ABC put Keith on the ALCS with Palmer and Earl Weaver. This time baseball won the Sat 10/9 conflict as Jackson called ALCS game 4 in Milwaukee. Meanwhile, Curt Gowdy filled in to announce the California-Washington football game that afternoon with Broyles.

1983-1985: ABC did not use Jackson on baseball.

1986: Jackson worked the NLCS for ABC with Tim McCarver. On Sat 10/11, Keith called game 3 of the NLCS at Shea Stadium instead of college football. This was the last season that ABC used Keith on the MLB postseason. Jackson remained a fixture on the ABC college football scene through the 2005 season.

So, for the years that ABC used Jackson on both sports, we have a total of 9 Saturday conflicts (two in 1981). The final tally:
  • Jackson skips a game of a baseball postseason series to call football - 2 times
  • Jackson misses football to call baseball - 3 times
  • Jackson calls both football and baseball on the same day - 2 times
  • ABC removes a conflict via the Jackson/Michaels World Series rotation - 2 times

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