If you grew up watching sports in the 90s or the 00s, chances are you know the name Tom Emanski. The commercials for his baseball fundamentals videos were ubiquitous. The most famous of those was the one you see above, featuring the Crime Dog, Fred McGriff (who should totally be in the Hall Of Fame. It’s not a difficult leap, given how long those commercials ran, to think that the video series was very successful. Possibly more successful than you would even imagine. Fox Sports has a great article on the history of Emanski, that covers how the video series came to be.
There are some very interesting numbers included in there. The first video was released in 1986, and the commercials ran until 2007. What’s more, even though the commercials stopped, you can still order those same videos today. Amusingly, while they were eventually upgraded to DVD, you can also still get them in the OG VHS. Perhaps the most surprising number is how much Emanski paid ESPN for all of those commercial spots (estimated at over 50,000 airings). Up front, nothing. When the videos started, ESPN was not the sports juggernaut it is today. Because of that, Emanski was able to make a deal where ESPN would get a percentage of each video sold through the commercial.
The aftermath to the whole story is different as well. After becoming a household name in baseball, Emanski effectively disappeared from public view, leading to some wild internet rumors about where he may have ended up. The truth is less exciting, but his story is still completely fascinating.
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