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.
After the national success of his 11-hour epic, The Civil War--the highest-rated miniseries in public-television history--many wondered if Ken Burns could capture the same energy and passion with smaller subjects. His reply, the 18-hour history of America's greatest sport, Baseball, not only quieted these worries, it also perhaps surpassed his prior achievement. Massive in scope (it covers more than 100 years), exhausting in detail, and filled with celebrities, journalists, politicians, historians, and the men who played the game, Burns's romantic love letter to the game achieves the impossible: even those who hate baseball can't help but become immersed in it. This is because Burns doesn't just detail the great players and the memorable plays and games; he also presents baseball as a cultural and social mirror, reflecting the beauty and hypocrisy of the nation that created it. Divided into nine innings, two hours each in length, the video examines complex social issues such as segregation, racial inequality (its section on Jackie Robinson, baseball's first African American player, should be required school viewing), labor battles between owners and players, politics, technology and gender conflicts, among others. Then, of course, there's fascinating footage and biographies on the players--troubled icons such as Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb, heroes such as Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle, and tragic figures such as Pete Rose and Lou Gehrig--the men who, despite a rocky and often hypocritical history, constructed baseball's tradition and preserved its invincibility. --Dave McCoy