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MLB Network's big start offers a perfect game

December 31, 2008 |  2:15 pm

Don Larsen in the midst of his perfect game.

Some of you are going to have to make sure your recording devices are in working order and programmed to capture the coolest program to be part of a network debut. That's presuming you'll be watching the Rose Bowl live Thursday.

The MLB Network debuts Jan. 1 amid college football bowl madness.

Network President Tony Petitti said he didn't choose Jan. 1 just to make your viewing day more difficult. "Cable systems were committed to taking us right off the bat to start the new year," Petitti said. "There are a lot of reasons, business reasons, branding, promotion. I know our audience will have a lot to choose from Jan. 1 but we also have what I think is the most unique, best piece of baseball and broadcast history for our kickoff."

Petitti is talking about the copy of the 1956 Brooklyn Dodgers-New York Yankees World Series event where Don Larsen threw his perfect game. It will be re-broadcast for the first time beginning at 4 p.m. PT on Thursday. Petitti suggests this is "must-see" television for anyone interested in baseball history or sports broadcasting history.

The play-by-play announcers were Mel Allen and a 28-year-old Vin Scully.

Petitti said he found it interesting to watch the game that didn't have centerfield camera angles or close-ups or graphic clutter or chattiness between the announcers. "If that game happened today," Petitti said, "you'd have dozens of close-ups of Larsen as the game got to the end."

After the re-broadcast, Bob Costas will host a chat with Larsen and his battery mate Yogi Berra.

The MLB Network will, like its NFL Network counterpart, offer 26 Thursday night game telecasts as well as a variety of studio shows. During the season it will be live every night beginning before the first East Coast game, about 3 p.m. PT, and stay live until the end of the final West Coast game, about 11 p.m. PT.

If you're trying to find out if the MLB Network is available on your cable or satellite system, click here where you can input your ZIP code and learn whether you'll have access. An MLB spokesman says the network is having ongoing conversations with Dish Network and hopes to be carried by it in the future.

-- Diane Pucin

Photo: The Yankees' Don Larsen delivers a pitch in the fourth inning of Game 5 of the 1956 World Series. He wound up with a perfect game. Credit: Associated Press