USA Thursday Game of the Week

USA Thursday Game of the Week
Genre Sport
Developed by USA Sports
Directed by John Repczynski
Starring See announcers section
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
Executive producer(s) Jim Zrake[1]
Producer(s) Mark D. Stulberger
Running time 180 minutes (or until game ends)
Original network USA
Original release April 26, 1979 – 1983
Related shows Thursday Night Baseball
Major League Baseball on NBC
External links

The USA Thursday Game of the Week is a former television program that broadcast Major League Baseball games on the USA Network. The network no longer airs sporting events. Sister network NBC Sports Network is the primary cable outlet of NBC Sports.


In 1979, 22 teams (all but the Atlanta Braves, Houston Astros, New York Mets, and St. Louis Cardinals) took part in a one-year cable deal with UA-Columbia[2] (then owners of the USA Network). The deal involved the airing of a Thursday night Game of the Week[3] in markets at least 50 miles (80 km) from a major league park.[4] The deal earned Major League Baseball less than $500,000, but led to a new two-year contract for 40–45 games[5] per season.[6] The program ran through the 1983 season.[7][8]

With USA's Thursday night coverage, it eliminated ABC (who was broadcasting Monday night games at the time) as the exclusive national, prime time television franchise for Major League Baseball.[9]

Coverage history

The series began April 26, 1979[10] with a doubleheader: Cleveland at Kansas City[11] (Jim Woods and Bud Harrelson announcing[12]) followed by Baltimore at California[13] (Monte Moore and Maury Wills announcing[14]). The second game of the night was typically, based out of the West Coast. The games were usually blacked out[15][16] in the competing teams' cities.[17] Once in a while, when USA did a repeat[18] of the telecast late at night, local cities were allowed to show the rerun.

From 1980–1981, Jim Woods[19] and Nelson Briles (replacing Bud Harrelson) did the early games (except for a game at Montreal on October 2, 1980, which reunited Jim Woods and Ned Martin, with whom Woods had paired on Boston Red Sox radio broadcasts in the 1970s), while Monte Moore and Wes Parker (replacing Maury Wills) called the late game.[20]

With USA's coverage of the 1981 Stanley Cup Playoffs, it marked the first time that there was "blanket" American television coverage of the NHL playoffs. In other words, more often than not that, whenever a game was played it was televised on a national outlet (whether it was broadcast or cable). USA however, didn't televise Game 1 of the playoff series between Philadelphia Flyers and Calgary Flames (April 16) because they were instead, broadcasting a baseball game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and Philadelphia Phillies. Meanwhile, they also skipped Games 2 through 6 (on April 17, 22 and 24) of the Philadelphia–Calgary series because of their coverage of the NBA playoffs. USA also didn't televise Games 2 and 5 of the playoff series between the Calgary Flames and Minnesota North Stars (April 30 and May 7 respectively) because of baseball games involving the Minnesota Twins vs. the Boston Red Sox and the Los Angeles Dodgers vs. the Philadelphia Phillies respectively.

In 1982, doubleheaders[21] did not start until June 17. Prior to the doubleheaders starting, Monte Moore and Wes Parker did the individual game until then. When the doubleheaders finally began,[22] Moore and Parker moved over to the late game for the rest of the year. Meanwhile, Eddie Doucette (replacing Jim Woods) and Nelson Briles[23] were assigned to call the early game.

USA continued with the plan of not starting doubleheaders until June in the final year of the package in 1983. Steve Zabriskie and Al Albert filled in for Eddie Doucette in September 1982 (Steve Grad also occasionally substituted) while Albert replaced Doucette for a game or more in 1983.

USA's coverage became a casualty of the new $1.2 billion TV contract between Major League Baseball, ABC and NBC beginning in 1984 and lasting through 1989. One of the provisions to the new deal was that local telecasts opposite network games had to be eliminated.[24]

Memorable moments

One particular game of note was a Los Angeles Dodgers/St. Louis Cardinals game in 1981 (the last game before the strike[25][26]).[27] The game in question featured Fernando Valenzuela picking up his eighth consecutive win to start the season. Valenzuela gave up a home run in the ninth to tie the game 1–1, but Pedro Guerrero hit one himself in the bottom of the ninth for the win.

One year later, during a September 16 game between the San Diego Padres and the San Francisco Giants,[28] Darrell Evans went 3-for-5 with four RBI in Giants' 9–3 victory.


See also


  1. 1983 08 18 USA Network Montreal Expos at SF Giants on YouTube
  2. "Big-League Baseball To Hit Hinterlands On Cable Television". Wall Street Journal. April 13, 1979.
  3. "Majors give cable rights". Lawrence Journal-World. April 13, 1979.
  4. Jane Gross (July 12, 1981). "Sports on cable". The New York Times. USA agreed to the baseball limitations rejected by ESPN and shows a Thursday-night game in cities that do not have a major-league team. In New York City, Manhattan Cable broadcasts USA's programs, but cannot televise the weekly baseball game because the Yankees and Mets declined to grant the waivers necessary under major-league statutes.
  5. Jicha, Jim (April 3, 1982). "Is The Chance To .Ao To The Park .". Miami News.
  6. "Giants Announce Signings of Stennett, May, Wohlford". Los Angeles Times. December 13, 1979.
  7. "Philadelphia Daily News : BASEBALL SWINGS AN UNREAL DEAL". Philadelphia Daily News. March 1, 1983.
  8. "USA NETWORK MAKING SOME MAJOR-LEAGUE CUTS". Miami Herald. February 10, 1984.
  9. Walker and Bellamy, Jr., James Robert and Robert. Center Field Shot: A History of Baseball on Television. p. 143.
  10. Holliman, Ray (April 14, 1979). "Cable package likely coming to Channel 7". St. Petersburg Times.
  11. Apr 26, 1979, Indians at Royals Play by Play and Box Score
  12. "Searchable Network TV Broadcasts - USA Network".
  13. Apr 26, 1979, Orioles at Angels Play by Play and Box Score
  14. "Jock leaves bigs again". Daily News. June 6, 1979.
  16. Henniger, Paul (August 31, 1983). "Write To New York To Get Message To A Star In California". St. Petersburg Times.
  17. Stewart, Larry (September 10, 1982). "A Win for Rams on the Air, Too". Los Angeles Times.
  18. Wehrle, Bruce (November 29, 1982). "Cable Networks Join The Fun". The Dispatch.
  19. Craig, Jack (May 4, 1980). "SPORTVIEW / BY JACK CRAIG; ; WHAT PRICE EXCLUSIVITY". Boston Globe.
  20. 8/18/1983 Montreal Expos at San Francisco Giants on USA on YouTube
  21. "Now On .The Air If .". Tri City Herald. August 10, 1982.
  22. "The Sports Scene.". The Dispatch. July 15, 1982.
  23. "The Sports Scene .". The Dispatch. September 2, 1982.
  24. Leifer, Eric M. Making the Majors: The Transformation of Team Sports in America. p. 1964.
  25. Peck, Dick (August 6, 1981). "Sunday's All-Star Game Puts Baseball Back". Sarasota Herald-Tribune.
  26. "BASEBALL STRIKE FORCES TV TO IMPROVISE". The New York Times. June 27, 1981.
  27. Jun 11, 1981, Dodgers at Cardinals Play by Play and Box Score
  28. Sep 16, 1982, Padres at Giants Box Score and Play by Play
  29. ""Where Are They Now:" Eddie Doucette". Archived from the original on September 26, 2007.
  30. "Steve Zabriskie". Ultimate Mets Database. Retrieved 2016-05-31.
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