Watch Baseball: A Film by Ken Burns

Whether you love the game of baseball or not this television show is a delight for the entire family. The show reminds us that the sport was once pure in the since that you some the vigor and youth of your favorite player on display and there was never any question if he had an unfair advantage over the other players because of drugs.

The show takes us to the humble beginnings of the sport and shows the viewer just how wide spread and deeply rooted the game is. A past time during the civil war, both fighting sides could be seen taking a Sunday off to enjoy the sport under a bright sunny day. The rules are universal and have changed little over the years even though our country has.

The show reveals how discrimination in society almost ruined the game and how the game ran concurrent with how are country grappled with the acceptance of all people in the sport as we did in society.

PBS
1 Season, 11 Episodes - Canceled/Ended
September 18, 1994
Sports
9.2/10
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Baseball: A Film by Ken Burns Full Episode Guide

  • As the new millenium dawns, baseball on the field is better than ever before. In an era of offense, Pedro Martinez and a handful of other pitchers still manage to dominate. Ichiro Suzuki proves that Asian players can be superstars, while Barry Bonds becomes one of the most dominant hitters of all time. In the fall of 2001, when a badly frightened country yearns for normalcy, baseball helps provide it. In an epic battle with the Yankees, the benighted Boston Red Sox stage the greatest comeback in history. Baseball is more popular and profitable than ever, but suspicions and revelations about performance enhancing drugs keep surfacing, calling the integrity of the game itself into question.

  • In an age of globalization and deregulation, a cataclysmic strike over money and power brings baseball to the brink, dazzlingly talented Latin players transform the sport, Cal Ripken, Jr. becomes baseball's new Iron Man, and Ken Griffey, Jr. and Barry Bonds are simply superb. The Braves dominate the National League while the Yankees build a new dynasty. As home run totals soar, sluggers Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa smash one of the game's most hallowed records. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, players on every team must make life altering decisions about how far they are willing to go to succeed.

  • The 1960s are a turbulent decade for America. There are race riots, anti-war protests, hippies, Woodstock. It is also a turbulent decade for baseball, as one by one its "sacred" institutions fall. It starts with Bill Mazeroski bringing down the mighty Yankees with one dramatic home run, the first ever to end a World Series. Then, in 1961, Roger Maris pursues Babe Ruth's "untouchable" record. In 1962, the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants are replaced by the New York Mets, who compile the worst single season record of the century.

  • Americans are on the move. Moving to the suburbs. Moving across the country. They are, it seems, restless. Of course, if you're a baseball fan in New York, you don't want to move. You're in baseball heaven. Year after year, the Yankees are on top of the American League. Year after year, the Giants and Dodgers fight for the National league crown. Starting in 1949, there is a New York team in the World Series for 10 straight years. And in six of those years, both teams are from New York.

  • In Europe, in the Pacific, on the homefront, both African-Americans and whites fight to make the world safe for democracy. When the world ends, Major League Baseball becomes, in fact, what it has always claimed to be: the national pastime. But, at the beginning of the decade, Jackie Robinson's debut is still some years away. Meanwhile, Joe DiMaggio sets a consecutive game-hitting streak that still stands. Ted Williams becomes the last man to hit .400. The once-lowly Brooklyn Dodgers win their first pennant. And world War II takes so much talent from the majors that the St. Louis Browns win a pennant.

  • The 1920s begin with America trying to recover from World War I and baseball trying to recover from the scandal of the 1919 World Series. America finds relief in the boom market and the Jazz Age. Baseball finds its own boom market in a player with a Jazz Age personality: a troubled youth from a Baltimore reformatory school who can hit a ball farther than anyone.

  • Before and after World War I, a steady stream of immigrants lands on the shores of America. They want instantly to become American. To pursue the American dream. To play the American game. But even as thousands of new Americans pick up a ball for the first time, even as the country endures a world war, baseball is trying to endure a decade that includes the meanest, vilest, angriest player ever to step onto a field and a scandal that almost destroys the game.

  • In 1894, a sportwriter named Byron Bancroft "Ban" Johnson takes over a struggling minor league - the Western League - and turns it into a financial success. In 1900, he changes its name to the American League and begins talking about challenging the big city monopoly held by the National League. The revolution takes only three years. In 1903, the first World Series is played between the American League Boston Pilgrims and the National League Pittsburg Pirates.

  • In New York City, in the 1840s, people need a diversion from the "railroad pace" at which they work and live. They find it in a game of questionable origins. On June 19, 1846, at the Elysian Fields in Hoboken, New Jersey, a team of well-dressed gentlemen, the Knickerbockers, play the first game of baseball. By 1856, the game is already being called "the national pastime," or simply, "Our Game." But the nation is about to be torn apart. And, in the midst of the Civil War, there is one thing that Americans North and South have in common: baseball.

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