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TV Series Review: Baseball's Golden Age
2008-07-07 22:02
by Bob Timmermann

Once upon a time, producer George Roy gathered together a huge collection of home movies, nearly all of them in color, of baseball players and some game action from the 1930s through the 1950s.

Roy put them together into three documentaries for HBO under the title of "When It Was a Game." I remember watching the first two with my mother and she loved seeing the action from the time when she watched the game as a kid in the 1940s. I even bought one of them, although it's in VHS format, which means it makes a nice bookend.

However, after three documentaries, Roy felt he still had more footage to show, so he got Fox Sports to put together a series of thirteen half-hour shows called "Baseball's Golden Age."

And after watching the first installment, I can say that I never found baseball's history so completely, and utterly boring. The footage is somewhat interesting, but it's cut up so FSN can duck in commercials. And the narration by Alec Baldwin is incredibly overwrought.

The first episode starts off with a paean to the game and sets out what the show is going to be about. And there are extreme closeups of the men who are going to be giving us their thoughts about the game. It's the usual suspects: Bob Costas, Maury Allen, Ernie Banks, Bob Feller, Leigh Montville, Alan Dershowitz, Larry King, Rudy Giuiliani, and a lot of other guys from the New York City area. All the men are shown in extreme closeup and someone needs to work on the makeup. Costas' visage on my TV made me think he was the Joker.

Part two was a comparison of Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio. Did you know that Joe DiMaggio played on more World Series winners than Ted Williams? But Williams hit better? There you go.

Part three was an examination of baseball's greatest rivalries. Except there was only one rivalry looked at: Dodgers vs Giants. Dershowitz yells. Giuliani refuses to apologize for being a Yankee fan living in Brooklyn. Joe Torre says Bobby Thomson's homer in 1951 was the biggest moment in his life at the time. Leo Durocher's uniform switches from being blue and white to being black, white, and orange.

And then there was something about Babe Ruth. Although I'm not quite sure what it was.

I never thought I would miss Ken Burns' group of talking heads discussing baseball.

I'm sure that some people who saw this loved it, but I am not compelled to spend 30 minutes watching Maury Allen tell me for the 300th time why Joe DiMaggio was a great player.

Baseball's Golden Age is not a time set in stone. It's the time when each person learned to fall in love with the game. So give me a bunch of talking heads discussing who was better The Mustache Gang or the Big Red Machine and I'll be sure to tune in. But for now, I'll pass on FSN's Golden Age.

2008-07-07 22:59:53
1.   Greg Brock
Needs more John Chancellor.

Unfortunately, that's not possible.

Is Donald Honig in it? The George Roy docs always seemed to have a lot of Donald Honig.

A lot.

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