Sunday, October 3, 2010

Fifty-five years ago, Cuba watched World Series live for the first time

This year's Major League Baseball postseason hasn't even begun, but in 1955, the New York Yankees and Brooklyn Dodgers were already playing Game 4 of the World Series by Oct. 1.

And thanks to some "pioneering and innovative use of technology," fans in Cuba had been watching that epic World Series -- the Dodgers won their first and only Series title while calling Ebbets Field home -- unfold live on their television sets for the first time.

My father, then almost 16, was among the Cuban fans who watched the 1955 World Series live, including Cuban-born Dodger Sandy Amoros' series-saving catch during Game 7.

A blog post by Manuel Márquez-Sterling explains how the transmission was made possible:

"(long before satellite TV) engineers custom-equipped a Cubana Airlines DC-3 which flew a circular pattern between Key West and Havana, acting as a relay transmission station for the live TV signal. The airplane took off a half hour before the game and remained airborne throughout, flights lasting about three hours."
And later on a NASA website, I found the above high-resolution version of the schematic diagram in Márquez-Sterling's blog post.

According to the NASA website:

"Equipment aboard the airplane received video signals from television stations in Miami and retransmitted them to a station belonging to a Cuban television network with coverage over a large part of the country (audio signals were transmitted separately by cable and shortwave)."

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