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Sharing Pitt Memories

Beano, RFK, Litchfield, and a Closed-Circuit Broadcast


Sam S. Zacharias (A&S '64):

During the 1963 football season, when I was a senior at Pitt, Pitt played Navy in the fifth game of the year, on October 26 in Annapolis. Both teams were undefeated and ranked No. 2 and No. 3 in the country, respectively.

In those days, there were few local TV broadcasts of college games. With football fever high on campus, I proposed to Chancellor Edward Litchfield that he allow myself and a couple of other budding entrepreneurs to do a closed-circuit TV broadcast of the game to the Fitzgerald Fieldhouse. Closed-circuit TV was in its infancy, but for some reason he gave us the OK to proceed and said the University would upfront fund it. So we had Bell Telephone lay a coaxial cable from downtown Pittsburgh to the Fieldhouse, blacked out all the windows, filled the floor with chairs, brought in a projector and screen, and sold all the tickets in a few hours.
That weekend, I traveled to the game, and with Beano Cook doing the play-by-play, I was the color man. Although we lost the game, a highlight for me was interviewing at halftime both the chancellor and Attorney General Robert Kennedy, and broadcasting those interviews back to the Fieldhouse. A wonderful, heady experience for me—and all because of Pitt.