He may not have been in front of the camera, but he influenced everything you saw during the World Series on Fox between 1996 and 2014. That’s because MLB on Fox director Bill Webb was calling the shots from inside the production truck. Webb worked at ABC Sports, Fox, superstation WWOR-TV, MSG Network and SNY. Webb passed away Tuesday after a lengthy battle with cancer. He was 70 years old.
During his career, Webb directed 18 World Series, 20 League Championship Series and 18 MLB All-Star Games. Buck told Newsday in 2015 that more than anyone, Webb was responsible for the look of baseball on Fox Sports.
His work was critically acclaimed earning some 40 Emmy nominations. He had directed all of the World Series that Fox aired between 1996 through 2014 as well as the 1995 World Series games that aired on ABC. Cancer stopped his streak of 15 consecutive World Series from 2000-14, thus he had to step aside in 2015 and was unable to work the 2016 Fall Classic.
You may have noticed during the 2015 and 2016 World Series when Fox did a Stand Up 2 Cancer segment that Joe Buck and his announcing partners put the name “Webby” on their cards. In 2015, Webb’s Fox Sports colleagues made sure to let him know that he wasn’t far from their thoughts:
And during the 2016 World Series, Buck and John Smoltz put “Webby” on their cards once again.
And reaction to Webb’s death came from his colleagues at both Fox and SNY:
2nite Im having a vodka soda no fruit, to honor my friend Bill Webb. The greatest baseball director of all time. I'll miss you Webbie. RIP pic.twitter.com/EBu79aewX2
— Kevin Burkhardt (@kevinburkhardt) March 8, 2017
So saddened by the passing of Bill Webb. A giant in TV sports and a cornerstone of Mets baseball on @SNYtv condolences to the Webb family
— gary apple (@gappleSNY) March 8, 2017
Bill Webb & Harry Coyle were the two most influential directors in the history of baseball on television, shaping the way we watch the game.
— Gershon Rabinowitz (@GershOnline) March 8, 2017
Iconic director Bill Webb, who worked #Mets games for nearly 40 years, has died after a long battle with cancer.
— Neil Best (@sportswatch) March 8, 2017
Mets games on SNY will always be a Bill Webb production whether he is there or not. RIP to the greatest to ever do it.
— Steve Gelbs (@SteveGelbs) March 8, 2017
If you watched a huge baseball game in the last 30+yrs, Bill Webb was directing. A master. Thanks for being nice to the new kid, Webbie. RIP
— Chris Carlin (@ChrisCarlin) March 8, 2017
So sad to hear of passing of MLB on Fox/NY Mets director Bill Webb. Best in biz & made me laugh. Thanks for all the good times Webby.
— Chris Rose (@ChrisRose) March 8, 2017
Webb was considered by many in television circles as the best baseball director. He took the torch from the man who gave baseball its look on television, Harry Coyle of NBC. In a profile on the Sports Video Group website, Webb gave his mission statement on directing a baseball game:
“The main thing that I try to do is bring the game up close and personal,” says Webb. “First, I try to be creative in setting the drama between pitcher and batter and then let the drama build as you get further into the game. Your obligation as a director is to do the best possible job with what you have to tell the story to the people at home. It’s my job to put those people at home in the best seat in the ballpark, not in the cheap seats.”
Webb broke into television in 1969 with WOR-TV (now WWOR-TV) in New York. He eventually got to work on Mets games on the station as an assistant director then becoming the lead director in 1979. In 1983, Tim McCarver joined the Mets broadcasts and he and Webb would work together on WWOR and eventually Fox.
Webb was hired by ABC Sports in 1987 to become its lead director, but after the network lost baseball in 1989, he worked on boxing, college football, college basketball, figure skating and horse racing’s Trple Crown.
In 1996, Webb joined Fox and forged a formidable team with Buck, McCarver and producer Pete Macheska on the MLB package.
When SNY was launched in 2006, Webb went back to his first team, the New York Mets where he directed and worked with the announcing team of Gary Cohen, Ron Darling and Keith Hernandez. He directed games though the 2016 season, but had to cut back his schedule due to cancer.
This past November, Webb was inducted into the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame.
As you can see from the tweets, Webb was considered special by his friends and colleagues and he will be missed by all who had the opportunity to work with him.