Wrigley 100 July 23: The Telstar Game
The emergence of the Cubs as America’s team was never more evident than in 1962. The recently launched Telstar communications satellite made it possible to bounce television signals across the Atlantic to Europe. On the much-ballyhooed July 23, 1962 premiere, the plan was to showcase several elements of Americana to an audience across the pond. When the signal came up, national news anchors Walter Cronkite and Chet Huntley informed viewers that a scheduled Presidential Kennedy press conference had not yet started. Instead, the first view of America sent to Europe was something much better: the Cubs and Wrigley Field via WGN-TV.
“We had intended at this time to take you to Washington where the President’s weekly news conference is about to begin, but because of early acquisition at Andover we got the Telstar satellite early and it’s not yet started so suppose we take you to a baseball game in Chicago instead.”
Pat Pieper informed the crowd over the PA that the game was now being shown in Europe and as flags waved and the crowd cheered, Jack Brickhouse chimed in with a greeting from Chicago. “Well, we realize that all this doesn’t make sense to you folks in Europe, but if we hadn’t shown you a bit of our national game on this first transatlantic show, we’d have never heard the end of it. As a matter of fact right now our colleagues who are doing the translating are going crazy trying to say runs, hits, and errors in Swedish and Italian. Anyway, here it is – a brief glimpse of American baseball played in the biggest arena in the world. All the way from Wrigley Field in Chicago to the Colosseum in Rome.”
Cubs right fielder George Altman was shown making a routine catch and was surprised to find out he had been seen around the world. “It was great. For me it was terrific because someone hit a ball to right field and I had to make a catch. Someone said you’re on world televised, you’re on world TV. People called and talked to me about that for a long time. They said ‘you’re famous all over the world!'”