Little Bits of History

The Heidi Game

Posted in History by patriciahysell on November 18, 2010

Heidi Game stats

November 17, 1968: The Oakland [California] Raiders are hosting the New York Jets in an American Football League game with each of the rivals sporting a 7-2 record for the season. The game was broadcast on NBC and began at 4 PM [EST] with a special network-produced movie of the children’s classic, Heidi, scheduled to follow at 7 PM.

As the half time production began, the Raiders were ahead 14-12 after a series of fights, flags, and fantastically frightening hits. During the third quarter, Jim Hudson, the Jets safety was ejected from the game. The score went first to one team and then back to the other. As the clock ran down, the Jets were leading 32-29 and it looked like they had the game in the record books already. There were another 65 seconds on the clock but it was commercial time.

When the break was over it was 7 PM and Heidi came on as scheduled. Dick Cline was in the control booth at NBC. Calls had been coming into the booth with some people demanding the movie starting on schedule and others demanding the game’s end be shown. Cline’s superiors could not get through and so the movie aired as previously scheduled.

What did not make the airwaves: Oakland completed a 20-yard pass, a 15-yard Jets penalty, Oakland’s Charlie Smith making a 43-yard run into the end zone with the score now at 36-32 Oakland. Then the kickoff, the Jets receiver Earl Christy bobbled the ball as he was blitzed by Raiders, the ball was dropped, Preston Ridlehuber scooped it up and ran into the end zone for a second Oakland touchdown. The final score: Oakland 43, Jets 32, and NBC 0. The network apologized. Today there are riders to contracts with networks that games must be broadcast in their entirety. NBC installed a special phone in the control booth with a private number – the Heidi phone.

“Probably the most significant factor to come out of Heidi was, ‘Whatever you do, you’d better not leave an NFL football game.’ ” – Val Pinchbeck

“It’s been more than 30 years and half the people who bring the Heidi game up to me weren’t even born when the game was played.” – Dick Cline

“Football isn’t a contact sport; it’s a collision sport. Dancing is a contact sport.” – Vince Lombardi

“Football combines the two worst features of American life. It is violence punctuated by committee meetings.” – George F. Will

Also on this day, in 1970 the first computer mouse or X-Y Position Indicator, was patented.

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