Here is the story of America s national pastime from master storyteller Ken Burns. It is an epic overflowing with heroes and hopefuls, scoundrels and screwballs. A saga spanning the quest for racial justice, the clash of labor and management, the immigrant experience, the transformation of popular culture, and the enduring appeal of the national pastime. And through it all, baseball remains a mirror of America.
Ken Burns relates the history of baseball in a fashion similar to that of his Civil War mini series. Old-time photos and illustrations depict the games early years, while newsreels and video clips highlight more recent developments. Players and participants speak in their own words, and sports writers and broadcasters offer commentary on the sport and events they witnessed.
Baseball is similar to Burns’ previous documentaries such as The Civil War, in the use of archived pictures and film footage mixed with interviews for visual presentation. Actors provide voice over reciting written work (letters, speeches, etc.) over pictures and video. The episodes are interspersed with the music of the times taken from previous Burns series, original played music, or recordings ranging from Louis Armstrong to Elvis Presley. The series was narrated by journalist John Chancellor, best known as the anchor of NBC Nightly News between 1970 and 1982.
The documentary is divided into nine parts, each referred to as an “inning”, following the division of a baseball game. Each “inning” reviews a particular era in time, and begins with a brief prologue that acts as an insight to the game during that era. The prologue ends with the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” just as a real baseball game would begin, with the particular rendition played as it might have been in the era being covered in that inning. While covering the 1960s, the rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” used is the version played by Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock. In some “inning” episodes, a period version of the baseball anthem “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” is used. Before the main feature, a brief preview and the events of the time of the “inning” to come follows.
Major themes explored throughout the documentary are those of race, business, labour relations, and the relationship between baseball and society. The series had an audience of 45 million viewers, which makes it the most watched program in Public Television history.
The Nine Innings
1st Inning – Our Game
This inning serves as an introduction to the game and the series, and covers baseball’s origins and the game as it evolved prior to the twentieth century.
Original airdate: Sunday, September 18, 1994.
2nd Inning – Something Like A War
This inning covers approximately 1900 to 1910, and includes the formation of the American League and its integration with the National League, culminating in the establishment of the World Series. Ty Cobb is discussed in depth (the title of this inning comes from one of his many quotes). Many of the quotes used in this inning and of the other early innings are taken from Lawrence S. Ritter’s The Glory of Their Times. – Original airdate: Monday, September 19, 1994.
3rd Inning – The Faith of Fifty Million People
This inning covers approximately 1910 to 1920. It heavily focuses on the Black Sox Scandal, taking its title from a line in the novel The Great Gatsby. The line refers to how easy it was for gamblers to tamper with the faith that people put in the game’s fairness.
Original airdate: Tuesday, September 20, 1994.
4th Inning – A National Heirloom
This inning covers approximately 1920 to 1930, and focuses on baseball’s recovery from the Black Sox Scandal, giving much of the credit to the increase in power hitting throughout the game, led by its savior Babe Ruth. The title comes from what sports writers called Ruth. During an interview given to MLB Network during the series’ re-airing in 2009, Burns stated that he originally wanted to title the 4th Inning, “That Big Son-of-a-Bitch”, a name given to Ruth by many in the game during that era.
Original airdate: Wednesday, September 21, 1994.
5th Inning – Shadow Ball
This inning covers approximately 1930 to 1940. While Burns has not shied away from discussing the plight of African-Americans up to this point, a great deal of this inning covers the Negro Leagues, and the great players and organizers who were excluded from the Major Leagues. Also the episode deals with organized Baseball’s response to the Great Depression.
Original airdate: Thursday, September 22, 1994.
6th Inning – The National Pastime
This inning covers approximately 1940 to 1950. The emphasis here is on baseball finally becoming what it had always purported to be: A national game. As African-Americans are finally permitted for good into Major League Baseball, led by Jackie Robinson. This inning also looks at how the game was influenced as a result of World War II.
Original airdate: Sunday, September 25, 1994.
7th Inning – The Capital of Baseball
This inning covers approximately 1950 to 1960. Burns emphasizes the greatness of the three teams based in New York (the New York Yankees, the New York Giants, and Brooklyn Dodgers). This inning also covers the major changes that are coming to baseball as teams begin to relocate.
Original airdate: Monday, September 26, 1994.
8th Inning – A Whole New Ballgame
This inning covers approximately 1960 to 1970. As the nation underwent turbulent changes, baseball was not immune. Expansion and labor are major topics in this inning.
Original airdate: Tuesday, September 27, 1994.
9th Inning – Home
The final inning covers approximately 1970 to 1993. While baseball survived the 1960s, the changes were not over, and in some ways its most bitter conflicts were just beginning. Major topics include the formation of the players’ union, the owners’ collusion, free agency, and drug scandals. The documentary ends with an ironic boast that baseball (and indirectly the World Series) had survived wars, depressions, pandemics, and numbers of scandals and thus could never be stopped. The 1994 World Series, the series to be played the year the film first aired on PBS, was canceled due to a players’ strike. This marked the first time since 1904 that the World Series was not played. It also focuses on the first non-American team to win the World Series, the Toronto Blue Jays, and the first win by a black manager, Cito Gaston.
Original airdate: Wednesday, September 28, 1994.
10th Inning – The Tenth Inning
The Tenth Inning premiered on PBS on September 28, 2010. The Inning was broken into two halves airing on September 28 and 29, 2010 and October 5, 2010. The documentary discussed the major stories of the last fifteen years in baseball. It focuses heavily on examining Barry Bonds and the Steroid era but also discusses other major issues in baseball, such as how baseball rebounded from the 1994 strike, the return to prominence of the Yankees, the influence of international players (specifically Dominican and Japanese players) on the game, and the drama of the 2003 and 2004 American League Championship Series.
LINKS ARE INTERCHANGEABLE
Baseball – A Film By Ken Burns – Original Soundtrack Recording
Hailed as perhaps the greatest filmed document in the history of the sport, Ken Burns’s epic series chronicled more than a century’s worth of baseball lore. The producers paid nearly as much attention to the audio as the stunning visuals, but this soundtrack is slightly uneven. Baseball errs on the side of good taste a bit too often, what with contributions from Bruce Hornsby, Carly Simon, and Natalie Cole peppered amid classics by the likes of Duke Ellington and Count Basie. The well-chosen historical material–including calls spanning five full decades–should interest die-hard fans, though. –David Sprague
1. Walt Whitman (Quote) (LP Version) Garrison Keillor 0:47
2. Take Me Out To The Ballgame (Piano) Jaqueline Schwab 1:33
3. The Star Spangled Banner (Orchestra) Big League Orchestra 1:31
4. Hurrah For Our National Game (LP Version) Jacqueline Schwab 1:16
5. Take Me Out To The Ballgame (Harvey Hindermyer) (1908) Harvey Hindermyer 2:05
6. Gee, It’s A Wonderful Game (LP Version) Dodworth Saxhorn Band 2:47
7. Sol White (Quote From History of Colored Baseball, 1907)/Dark was The Night, Cold was The Ground (LP Version) Willie Johnson 1:02
8. Steal Away (Instrumental) Bobby Horton 2:10
9. Babe Ruth – Radio Call (ca. 1927) (LP Version) Various Artists 0:16
10. Clubhouse Stomp (LP Version) The New York Hawks 1:45
11. If You Can’t Make A Hit At The Ballgame, You Can’t Make A Hit With Me (LP Version) National Passtime Orchestra 3:14
12. Pound Cake (LP Version) Lester Young 2:45
13. The Minstrel Boy (LP Version) Jaqueline Schwab 1:59
14. Joe DiMaggio – Radio Call (1937) (LP Version) Red Barber 0:22
15. Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio (LP Version) Les Brown And His Orchestra 2:52
16. Kansas City Call (Quote) (LP Version) Ossie Davis 0:44
17. The Star Spangled Banner (Piano) Jaqueline Schwab 1:17
18. The New Black And Tan Fantasy (LP Version) Duke Ellington 2:41
19. Jackie Robinson – Radio Call (1956) (LP Version) Bob Wolf 0:22
20. Did You See Jackie Robinson Hit That Ball? (LP Version) Natalie Cole 2:58
21. Baseball Boogie (LP Version) Mabel Scott 2:46
22. Bobbie Thompson’s Shot Heard ‘Round The World (LP Version) Russ Hodges 1:23
23. Take Me Out To The Ballgame (King Curtis) King Curtis 2:07
24. Say Hey (The Willie Mays Song) (LP Version) The Treniers 3:11
25. Take Me Out To The Ballgame (Trumpet) George Rabbai 1:00
26. Henry Aaron – Radio Call/When You And I Were Young, Maggie/ The New York Times (Quote) (1974) (LP Version) Jaqueline Schwab 2:10
27. Take Me Out To The Ballgame (Dr. John) Dr. John 2:56
28. Eulogy For Jackie Robinson/Steal Away (Piano) (LP Version) Rev. Jesse Jackson 2:10
29. Take Me Out To The Ballgame (Carly Simon) Carly Simon 2:48
30. The Sporting News (Quote) (LP Version) Amy Madigan 0:35
31. The Star Spangled Banner (Marsalis/Hornsby) (LP Version) Branford Marsalis 2:17
The Modern Scholar – Take Me Out to the Ballgame: A History of Baseball in America AudioBook
Baseball has been celebrated as “America’s National Pastime” for more than one hundred and fifty years, and recalls what, at least in retrospect, seems to be an earlier, more innocent age- long summer afternoons and sandlot ball, fresh rural air or brownstone stoops. In part, this is because most of those who love the game played as children and followed their favorite bigleague teams as children. It is not a game one grows out of, and once smitten, most baseball lovers remain true, passing on their love of the game to their children. And the game itself is ever young, the succession of baseball heroes unbroken: Honus Wagner to Ty Cobb to Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, to Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams, to Henry Aaron, Mickey Mantle, and Willie Mays, to Mike Schmidt, and Cal Ripken, and Tony Gwynn, to the stars of the present. Cy Young, Christy Mathewson, Walter Johnson, Lefty Grove, Bob Feller, Sandy Koufax, Juan Marichal, and Bob Gibson, each generation has its heroes and cherishes the memory of those gone before as an ongoing counterpart to daily life-through the War and the Depression, through the fifties and sixties, and so on to the present day. This course is a celebration of baseball’s rich past-and of a game stronger than ever.