|Index||3 reviews in total|
I thought this was the second-most interesting of these decade segments
on this Ken Burns' "Baseball" series. Each program lasted about two
hours, by the way. Most of this segment was devoted to one man: Babe
Ruth. That's okay because he is still the most fascinating and colorful
ballplayer - and best all-around - who ever played the game. Nobody was
a hall-of- fame caliber pitcher and hitter but Ruth....and nobody had
the fame he had. I have no problem with his getting all this coverage
here, and I am not a Yankees fan, but Ruth was that interesting.
Also mentioned are the World Series battles of the decade, plus some small features on Rogers Hornsby, Lou Gehrig and Branch Rickey. Near the end of this tape (or DVD) is a very touching tribute to Christy Mathewson, who died at a very young age after being exposed to poison gas in World War I. This tape, and all the reading I've done on this era, convinces me that Mathewson - as a player and a human being - might be the most respected player in history. Everybody loved and had the highest regard for him.
Baseball: Inning Four 'A National Heirloom' (1994)
**** (out of 4)
The fourth episode in Ken Burns series takes a look at the years between 1920 and 1929. As usual, narration, photos and video help show what was going on in the sport during this period and we get stories about such things including Ray Chapman's death when he was hit in the head by a ball, the Negro Leagues continuing to grow, the sport writers, the radio broadcasts, building Yankee Stadium, Walter Johnson winning a World Series, the death of Christy Mathewson, Murderers Row and Ty Cobb's retirement. We also look at players like Rube Foster, Rogers Hornsby, Lou Gerrig but the majority of the running time is given to Babe Ruth. Overall this is another terrific episode that baseball fans should love and even those not too familiar with the sport should enjoy because it's simply so well made and entertaining. The majority of the running time is devoted to Ruth, which is quite understandable considering all the ways he changed the sport. We hear about his troubled upbringing, the personal details of his horrid and tragic marriage as well as the countless issues that he ran into with managers, fans, the commissioner and umpires. Then, of course, there are the countless home runs, popularity and everything else that the man did. As with the previous films, this one here features all sorts of terrific photos but more importantly is all the video footage. Considering a lot more stuff was being filmed during this decade it makes sense that we get more video footage so getting to see some of these legendary players in motion was great fun to see.
There were some other issues portrayed in this episode. The Washington Senators winning for the only time ever. The rise of Lou Gehrig and other Yankees. It tells of the cantankerous Kenesaw Mountain Landis and his humorless bullying (which was really necessary after 1919). It showed the frustration of the black players and the story of their league which was nearly usurped by white tycoons. But this is really the story of Babe Ruth and his affect on a game that was in trouble. Ruth who was an accident waiting to happen came in as what would have been one of our greatest pitchers, traded from Baltimore to the Red Sox then sold along with other great players to the Yankees (so the Red Sox boss could invest in Broadway shows). Ruth had incredible ups and downs but was "the" household word in America. Compare his celebrity and influence to that of the politicians of the time, and see who held forth the best. He was a man of amazing power who pushed the limits of excess, eating six hot dogs at a time and drinking as much soda, running around with women while his wife was holed up in a country home and he lived in a 13 room apartment in the city. Anyway, his legacy is Yankee Stadium and a revitalization of the national pastime. A very good episode with some really nice video.
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