Playoff baseball has gotten off to an interesting start this season. The addition of a one-game Wild Card round you can’t help but think of how the game has evolved over its long history. So much has changed, but history and tradition are preserved and upheld with reverence, probably more than in any other sport. And while, they may tack on rounds to the playoffs, the last round, the Fall Classic remains the same.
The World Series: History of the Fall Classic chronicles every World Series since its inception in 1905 in a comprehensive four-disc set that includes over hours of bonus footage. From the birth of the American League from the womb of the high minor league to the unlikely heroics David Frees in his hometown of St. Louis in the 2011 World Series, MLB Productions manages to produce a annals that are both encyclopedic and captivating enough for any baseball fan.
First thing’s first– Bob Costas as narrator. Check. Not only do integrity and knowledge live in his voice, but this is the man who wrote Micky Mantle’s eulogy– he loves baseball. And yes, it includes detailed accounts of the games, the players, the moments we’ve heard about, maybe seen, over and over again come October. Yogi Berra leaping into the arms of Don Larsen, Reggie Jackson’s 3-HR game, the ball rolling under Bill Buckner’s glove, Joe Carter rounding the bases with the championship waiting for him at home. Most baseball fans don’t even need to close their eyes to see those images or hear those calls.
This documentary is a wonderfully “definitive,” faithful and vivid ensemble of facts, fables, anecdotes and commentary for meticulous baseball students, but its also a treasure of information for fans who forget baseball existed before Babe Ruth. It invites us into a world that seems fictitious. A world where a man by the name of Christy Mathewson pitched 3 consecutive complete-game shut-outs for John McGraw’s New York Giants in the first ever World Series against Connie Mack’s Philadelphia A’s. A world in which 12-inning tie games were called on account of darkness.
As a New Yorker, one particular era of the World Series seems especially fascinating– 1949 to 1956. In that time-frame three New York teams dominated baseball. The city of New York won every World Series in that time, six of which were Subway Series, with stars like Mayes, Robinson, Snider and Mantle shining on the game’s biggest stage.
Today, it seems simply unbelievable.
Some things we may never see again, but what is really great about a compilation like The World Series: History of the Fall Classic, is that no matter what era, the World Series breeds some kind of magic.