Baseball: Season 1, Episode 5

Shadow Ball (22 Sep. 1994)

TV Episode  -   -  Documentary | History | Sport
8.0
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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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Cast

Episode credited cast:
Grover Cleveland Alexander ...
Himself (archive footage)
Roger Angell ...
Himself
...
Various (voice)
Red Barber ...
Himself
...
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 ...
Himself
...
Various (voice)
Dizzy Dean ...
Himself (archive footage)
...
Himself (archive footage)
Leo Durocher ...
Himself (archive footage)
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Storyline

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)  »

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Soundtracks

Bottleneck Blues
Written and performed by Weaver & Beasley
Courtesy of Columbia Records
By arrangement with Sony Music Licensing
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'Sacthel' And The Negro League Players
12 August 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

All along in this series, every segment, time is devoted to the black man and his ball-playing abilities and struggles. Banned from major league baseball until the late '40s, Ken Burns goes out of his way in coverage of them in his nine-part "Baseball" series, especially here and in the next decade when Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier.

Speaking of "color," one of the most colorful players of them all is featured here in this decade: Leroy "Satchel" Paige, the great pitcher. Paige and slugger Josh Gibson - the best hitter in the Negro leagues - are given the bulk of the coverage, and it's all interesting.

I did think they overdid it, though, on the coverage of the all-star games. This PBS documentary gave three times the coverage to the black East-West game than it did the initial Major League All-Star Game, which is ludicrous. When they do go back and discuss some of MLB's players, the focus is primarily on Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Babe Ruth and Bob Feller.


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