1939 Waynesburg vs. Fordham
first televised football game
1234 Total
Waynesburg 7000 7
Fordham 71476 34
DateSeptember 30, 1939
StadiumTriborough Stadium
LocationNew York City
United States TV coverage
AnnouncersBill Stern

The 1939 Waynesburg vs. Fordham football game was a college football game between the Fordham Rams and the Waynesburg Yellow Jackets played on September 30, 1939. The game was played at Triborough Stadium on New York City's Randall's Island. Fordham won the game 34–7. Broadcast by NBC, the contest was the first American football game ever televised.[2]

Game play

Fordham entered the game a pre-season pick for the national championship, but the first score was completed by Waynesburg when Bobby Brooks completed a 63-yard run for a touchdown on the third play of the game.[3] Waynesburg only scored in the first quarter but managed to keep Fordham within reach during the early part of the game.[4] Fordham scored in every quarter, leaving the final score at 34–7.[5]

Fordham's offense managed sixteen first downs and 337 yards, while Waynesburg managed only five first downs for a total of 157 yards. Fordham blocked a punt in both the first and second halves of the game and recorded an interception in the fourth quarter that the offense was able to turn into a touchdown.[1]

Sports broadcasting firsts

NBC broadcast the game on station W2XBS with one camera and Bill Stern was the sole announcer. Estimates are that the broadcast reached approximately 1,000 television sets.[6]

The game came just one month after the Brooklyn Dodgers hosted the Cincinnati Reds in the first-ever televised professional baseball game, and five months after the Princeton and Columbia baseball teams played the first televised sporting event.[citation needed]

Sports broadcasting continued. Less than one month later (October 22) the now defunct Brooklyn "Football" Dodgers defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 24–14, at Ebbets Field for the first televised professional football game. On February 28, 1940, the University of Pittsburgh played Fordham at Madison Square Garden in the first televised basketball game.[3]

College football on television continued with the second televised college game just one month later, on October 28, when the Kansas State Wildcats hosted the Nebraska Cornhuskers for their homecoming contest.[7]

Other claims

Sources have cited a University of Pennsylvania home football game from 1938 as the first televised football game.[8] This is likely due to the 1981 NCAA Television Briefing Book, which said

College football television had begun in 1938, when one of the University of Pennsylvania's games was beamed from Franklin Field to the Philco offices-laboratories, also in Philadelphia. As far as is known, there were six television sets in Philadelphia; and all were tuned to the game.[9]

However, this game occurred before the 1939 New York World's Fair, which marked the beginning of regularly scheduled television broadcasts.[10] This, along with the fact that the game was broadcast to the Philco laboratories, likely means the game was used as a field test.[citation needed]

The University of Pennsylvania hosted the first full schedule of college football games in 1940.[11]

See also


  1. ^ a b "Rams Defeat Waynesburg". Youngstown Vindicator. October 1, 1939. p. D–6. Retrieved February 26, 2011.
  2. ^ Vander Voort, Eric (September 29, 2015). "First televised football game featured Fordham, Waynesburg in 1939". NCAA.com.
  3. ^ a b "First TV Football Game". Waynesburg University. Retrieved February 11, 2011.
  4. ^ Beachler, Eddie (October 3, 1939). "Tech, Pitt, Dukes in Good Condition for Next Test". The Pittsburgh Press. Retrieved February 12, 2011.
  5. ^ "Fordham Rams Drive Over Waynesburg, 34–7". The Tuscaloosa News. October 1, 1939. Retrieved February 12, 2011.
  6. ^ "First televised football game, Waynesberg vs Fordham, 1939". American Sportscasters Online. Retrieved February 11, 2011.
  7. ^ Janssen, Mark (October 7, 2010). "Purple Pride vs. Big Red – 4–0 vs. 4–0". Kansas State Wildcats. Archived from the original on February 15, 2011. Retrieved February 11, 2011.
  8. ^ "Siegfried, John J., et. al. The college football association television broadcast cartel. Department of Economics, Vanderbilt University. Nashville, TN. pg. 2" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on October 7, 2012. Retrieved March 23, 2011.
  9. ^ Football Television: Briefing Book. (1981). Shawnee Mission, KS: NCAA. pg. 1.
  10. ^ "Television in the World of Tomorrow". Retrieved December 5, 2010.
  11. ^ "The Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia". Retrieved December 5, 2010.