|Index||3 reviews in total|
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.
Baseball: Fifth Inning 'Shadow Ball' (1994)
**** (out of 4)
The fifth episode from the Ken Burns series takes a look from 1930 to 1939. Within the decade we'd see a wide range of topics including Babe Ruth's career coming to an end, the rise of Lou Gerrig's historic streak but then his early retirement due to health issues, the Negro Leagues continue to gain power while the Depression is killing MLB's attendance, the first All-Star game, MLB's first night game, the creation of the Hall of Fame and the infamous World Series game between the Yankees and Cubs, which featured Ruth possibly calling his shot. Some of the players discussed include Jimmy Foxx, Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, Dizzy Dean, Mel Ott, Carl Hubbell, Bob Feller, Joe DiMaggio and Hank Greenberg. This fifth episode proved to be another terrific documentary that perfectly captured the spirit of the game during this era as well as shining a spotlight on the many issues including the race issue as well as many Americans being out of work and unable to pay to get into games. I think the most interesting discussion here comes from the Negro Leagues as we hear from actual players as they discuss playing four games a day, not being able to take showers in certain stadiums and you just get a great feel for what they went through and how it was different than MLB. The talk about Ruth's final years were also very entertaining including his final game where he hit three home runs and his heartbreak of not getting to manage the Yankees. Fans of the game will certainly love hearing all of these stories and as usual we're treated to some wonderful photographs but also a lot of video of these legendary names.
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.
|Plot summary||Ratings||Plot keywords|
|Main details||Your user reviews||Your vote history|