BRADENTON, Fla. -- The Curve franchise and city of Altoona are set to receive unprecedented national exposure next Sunday when ESPNews broadcasts large portions of a baseball game live from Blair County Ballpark.
The contest will mark the professional debut of highly touted prospect Stephen Strasburg, who will be pitching for the Harrisburg Senators. The game is scheduled for 2 p.m., and each half-inning Strasburg pitches will air live in its entirety on the cable network.
The game feed will not be broadcast when the Curve are pitching.
"This is pretty special," Curve general manager Rob Egan said.
How special? It's believed to be, according to several local sports historians, the first time a sporting event in Altoona will be broadcast live nationwide.
"I can't think of any other one," former Altoona Area High School girls basketball coach Art Taneyhill said.
An ESPN crew visited Altoona in the late 1980s for the Rotary Holiday Basketball Tournament to do a segment on Taneyhill's team for "Scholastic Sports America." It was not, however, a live broadcast.
"To have Blair County Ballpark and Altoona in the national spotlight with ESPN's planned coverage is really exciting," Egan said. "We've had some impressive milestones during our first 11 years that have put us on the map, but this is a first and can only mean good things for our region."
Curve officials have been in contact with ESPN several times since it was announced Strasburg would pitch next Sunday. ESPN producer Scott Hecht, who could not be reached for comment, confirmed the broadcast details Saturday with Curve director of broadcasting Dan Zangrilli.
ESPN will send a satellite uplink truck to Altoona and will use the Curve's in-house audio and video. The franchise will have five cameras shooting the action, and ESPN will provide a sixth camera to be focused on Strasburg at all times.
The Curve were featured in an extensive cover story in USA Today on Aug. 8, 2002, but next week's event could dwarf that in terms of exposure.
Strasburg was the No. 1 pick in last year's draft and received a draft-record $15.1 million contract from the Washington Nationals. ESPN seldom carries regular-season minor league games live on its networks, but Strasburg's debut is that big of a deal in the baseball world.
Game highlights are expected to be replayed numerous times on ESPN's various networks and programs such as "SportsCenter" and "Baseball Tonight."
"We all know what a great baseball city this is and that our ballpark is one of the best in the country," Zangrilli said. "Now we get to share it and show it off to all of America while all the eyes of the baseball universe are on Altoona."
Mirror Staff Writer Cory Giger can be reached at 949-7031.