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Baseball Represents Who We Are

| July 4, 2013 | 1 Comment

Ken Burns was discussing his 1994 Emmy award winning documentary Baseball on MLB Network, and I marveled at how the director described why this was not just the best sport or just a game boys play. He detailed the importance baseball has made on the cultural landscape of America.

Burns taped the interview in MLB Network’s Studio 42, which is named for Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson of the Brooklyn Dodgers, who broke the game’s color barrier in 1947.

“When we did the series, we wanted to tell the arc of the history of baseball. The thing that gave it it’s backbone was the story of the Negro Leagues, and then Jackie Robinson’s arrival in the years after it.”

Overview of the original Ebbets Field

Overview of the original Ebbets Field

“This is the thing that changes it from just an ordinary sport into something that reflects who we truly are.”

“I like basketball. I like football, but I would not make an 18 and half hour series about that. Only baseball, because it represents who we are.”

“It’s also just a game people complain… but if you wanna look closer this is a mirror of where we have been for the 150 years since the Civil War, and that’s why I consider it a sequel to our Civil War series. You can follow the presidential successions but you can learn more about America studying baseball than traditional history.” 

What is it about this sport that tells you about race, tells you about the exclusion of women, that tells you about the superb play, the growth and decay of cities, about labor and management. This is a mirror. This is an amazing story that reflects us in all our glory, our darker moments, but in the end this game has led us. When civil rights changed in the country it wasn’t at a lunch counter, it wasn’t on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, it was in Ebbets Field.”

Burns has made 23 documentaries, but Baseball is the only one he made into a sequel which he called The Tenth Inning, released in 2010.


Newy Scruggs is the author of our upcoming  Lessons From Sports book. He’s looking for your best and most inspiring lessons from sports stories. Click here  to receive our Lessons From Sports Tip of the Week and to submit your lesson/story.

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Category: Baseball

About the Author ()

Newy Scruggs is a multiple Emmy Award winning sportscaster and Sports Director at KXAS-TV (NBC 5) in Dallas-Ft. Worth, Texas.

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  1. Arjuna says:

    There is no logical answer. The O’Malley was committed to moving when some ignorant unidentified bureaucrat refused to listen to O’Malley when he said, “I need a new ball park in order to continue being a dominant franchise.” So who gets the blame, O’Malley. What a crock. Stoneham would have never left the Polo Grounds if O’Malley hadn’t twisted his arm and pointed out the money that could be made in San Francisco, especially with a southern adversary such as the LA Dodgers to encourage an already existing rivalry. Was this answer helpful?

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