Baseball: Season 1, Episode 5

Shadow Ball (22 Sep. 1994)

TV Episode  |  TV-PG  |   |  Documentary, History, Sport
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Ratings: 8.3/10 from 59 users  
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In the period 1930-40, the Depression had a major impact on the game of baseball. Many teams were nearing bankruptcy with attendance dwindling and fan interest at its lowest ebb. The owners... See full summary »


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Title: Shadow Ball (22 Sep 1994)

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Episode credited cast:
Grover Cleveland Alexander ...
Himself (archive footage)
Roger Angell ...
Various (voice)
Red Barber ...
Various (voice)
Roy Campanella ...
Himself (archive footage)
John Chancellor ...
Narrator (voice)
Mickey Cochrane ...
Himself (archive footage)
Eddie Collins ...
Himself (archive footage)
Robert W. Creamer ...
Himself (as Robert Creamer)
Mario Cuomo ...
Various (voice)
Dizzy Dean ...
Himself (archive footage)
Himself (archive footage)
Leo Durocher ...
Himself (archive footage)


In the period 1930-40, the Depression had a major impact on the game of baseball. Many teams were nearing bankruptcy with attendance dwindling and fan interest at its lowest ebb. The owners introduced many innovations in an attempt to revive interest and attendance including the All Star game. Night games were introduced in 1935 and the Hall of Fame opened in Cooperstown in 1939 on the mythical 100th anniversary of creation of the game. The sport still provided its heroes however. Babe Ruth was larger than life and in 1930 signed an $80,000 a year contract; his teammate Lou Gehrig had become the best hitter in the AL. Barnstorming black teams played white teams regularly and had an entertaining pre-game warm-up routine dubbed shadow ball. The Negro leagues came into its own and drew huge crowds. It had its own stars such as Satchel Paige, one of the greatest pitchers in all of baseball, and catcher Josh Gibson it's greatest hitter. By the end of the decade, the Babe's career was over,... Written by garykmcd

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Release Date:

22 September 1994 (USA)  »

Company Credits

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Take Me out to the Ballgame
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Courtesy of Broadway Music Corp.
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The Twilight of Babe Ruth and the Negro League
23 January 2015 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This is the offering that focuses on the Great Depression era. It's about the time of Lou Gehrig and the last days of Babe Ruth. He was convinced he could manage the Yankees, but ended up with the Boston Braves, the lowest point of his life. There is footage of him hitting a home run for this sad team. He was never given a chance to manage. It was also the era that brought us Jimmy Foxx, Mel Ott, Joe Cronin, Bob Feller, Joe DiMaggio and the Gashouse Gang. Times were tough for the clubs and they had to do what they could to stay in business. This is mostly about the Negro Leagues, however. We get a focus on the likes of Josh Gibson, Buck O'Neal, Cool Poppa Bell, and, of course, Satchel Paige. Wouldn't it have been wonderful to have seen these guys on an even stage with the stars of the day. It also takes us to Latin America where the racist state of the U.S. kept their great players from Major League possibilities. General Trujillo grabbed up several Negro league players to play for his team. It covers the Jewish player, most successfully, Hank Greenburg of the Tigers, who had to deal with anti-semitism. It covers the beginning of Japanese baseball that has become so significant in our modern game. It's also about the dynasty of the Yankees which flourished when DiMaggio and Gehrig dominated the league. There is a feature on the first major league game under the lights and the routine radio broadcasting of games. There is a close look at Red Barber who talks about the fears that these broadcasts would keep fans away. Instead it increased the fan interest.

The episode closes out with the sad story of Lou Gehrig who succumbs to ALS, the disease that became synonymous with his name. Then we see the famous speech on July 4 when he talks about being the luckiest man on the face of the earth.

It shows the opening of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, and the twelve players and managers who were inducted at that time. It makes the point that the golden age could not have been that with the exclusion of so many great players who were never allowed to play.

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