Release Date: September 18th, 1994 (first episode)
Directed by: Ken Burns, Lynn Novick
Music by: David Cieri
PBS, 1620 Minutes (11 episodes, including the sequel ‘The Tenth Inning’)
In my opinion, this is Ken Burns’ magnum opus. In fact, it is PBS’ magnum opus in their long, storied existence. But I also see baseball as the greatest thing in the entire universe and since I am also a big history buff, this massive documentary series is probably the best thing ever released on television, as far as I’m concerned.
Now there have been hundreds, if not thousands, of baseball documentaries done throughout film and television history. However, none of them are as rich and as thorough as this one.
The series itself is comprised of nine movie length episodes. There is also a tenth chapter, split into two movie length parts, that was added on later. Due to its size and execution, the wealth of knowledge and information in this series is monolithic. Baseball covers the sport from its earliest days up into the early 2000s – leaving no stone unturned. He also plans to do an Eleventh Inning if the Chicago Cubs win the World Series. Well… they did just last year.
The film is done in the typical Ken Burns style, which fits perfectly with the world of baseball, especially the really old school stuff. The narration is beautiful, the library of historical photographs seems endless and as you progress through time, the series becomes more and more lively and colorful – like baseball.
This is the series that introduced me to Ken Burns and it is still my favorite that he has done. I would watch this every time it popped up on PBS when I was a kid. Now I have the luxury of being able to watch it whenever I want on Amazon Prime. And since it is just about time for Opening Day, my annual tradition of watching this series has already begun.