Bruce H. Burnside, a dyed-in-the-wool baseball buff for most of his 62 years, wanted to watch televised National League games -- sometimes as many as three at a sitting. Victor P. Bertoni, whose recent spine injury left him with an erratic sleep schedule, wanted quality programming well into the wee hours every night.
And Alexander J. Greene, an environmental expert with the Montgomery County government who rarely watches the tube, wanted something besides his old rabbit-ear and rooftop antennas to improve his television reception.
Recently, all three Rockville homeowners got what they wanted, all by joining the more than 1,100 other subscribers of Tribune-United Cable of Montgomery County Inc., the firm that expects to bring cable TV to at least half of Montgomery's 230,000 households.
Recent efforts by the company to strand, splice and energize miles of cable are part of a nearly $130 million, three-year effort to bring programming variety to Montgomery living rooms.
Despite reporting some irritating cable-induced problems with their television reception, Burnside, Bertoni and Greene say they are fortunate to have cable today. Some Montgomery residents, such as those in one section of Potomac and rural areas near Poolesville and Damascus, are not due to receive cable until November 1987.
"Anything worthwhile takes time," says Tribune-United spokeswoman Fern Krauss, referring to the firm's four-year, $130 million program to construct the cable system.
"I'm crazy about cable," declared Burnside, who subscribed to the pay-television service in late September, shortly after it came to his Bradley Avenue neighborhood in east Rockville.
Burnside pays about $28 a month to receive Tribune-United's basic offering of programs, as well as Home Box Office and the Bravo channel featuring performing arts. Next summer, he expects to watch his beloved baseball games on so-called "superstations" broadcasting from New York, Chicago and Atlanta.
Bertoni, Burnside's next-door neighbor, said he subscribed to cable because "24-hour channels appeal to me." Retired from the federal government after a disabling spine injury, Bertoni sought the diverse late-night programming that Tribune-United offered.
His family is paying $32.95 a month for what Tribune calls its "VIP life style package," the company's most popular service. It includes a wide array of "basic" cable shows, the Home Box Office and Cinemax channels, a hand-held remote tuner for the TV set, a distortion-free FM radio service and one other premium channel, such as Bravo, Disney or Showtime.
Greene subscribes to Tribune-United's least expensive service, the $1.50-a-month "limited basic service" of 38 channels. Greene, an infrequent television viewer who lives on Laird Street in the heart of Rockville, said he subscribed to get cable's clearer UHF picture.
That was two weeks ago. Shortly after his cable hookup, his television picture became fuzzy, Greene said. One channel's picture had unnaturally bold lines; on another, the color was smeared.
A Tribune-United repairman who showed up Thanksgiving Eve blamed the technical trouble on problems in the cable itself and corrected the glitch.
Five minutes later, though, the trouble was back, Greene said. After repeated repair requests, the service was restored earlier this week. Thus far, his experience with cable has been "one absolute disaster" of technical problems that took days to fix, Greene said.
Burnside said he too has had a series of problems with his TV reception. Since their hookup two months ago, Burnside's family has lost full cable service at least three times, for 20 to 23 hours each time, he said.
Company spokeswoman Krauss said 6 to 8 percent of all subscribers have filed complaints with Tribune-United and added that this was not unusual with "such a new technology."
Subscribers have complained about muddy pictures, outdated program listings appearing on televised broadcast guides, and the requirement -- included in Tribune-United's franchise agreement with the county -- that they must obtain a more expensive tier of service to hook up a second television set to cable.
Despite the inevitable kinks, many customers say they are generally pleased with the cable shows and the relative speed with which Tribune-United attempts to clear up any problem.
"They haven't licked all the technical problems yet," said Burnside. "But I am nuts about cable."