The Tenth Inning on WXXI-TV

The Tenth Inning on WXXI-TV

Tue, 09/28/2010 - 8:00pm - Wed, 09/29/2010 - 8:00pm

Pictured: 1993 playoff game, Phillies vs. Braves

Credit: Courtesy of Ronald C. Modra/Sports Imagery

Ken Burns and co-director Lynn Novick bring Burns's landmark 1994 PBS series BASEBALL up to the present and explore baseball's new Golden Age.

WXXI brings the much-anticipated Ken Burns documentary series, The Tenth Inning to its Rochester audience on Tuesday, September 28 and Wednesday, September 29 at 8 p.m. on WXXI-TV (DT21.1/cable 1011 and 11). Thousands of bats, three home run records and one “curse” have been broken since Ken Burns last explored the history of America’s national pastime with his landmark 1994 PBS series Baseball. Now Burns and co-director Lynn Novick bring the series to the present with this four-hour, two-part film.

The Tenth Inning tells the tumultuous story of America’s national pastime from the early 1990s to the present day, introducing an unforgettable array of players, teams and fans, celebrating the game’s resilience and enduring appeal, and showcasing both extraordinary accomplishments — and devastating losses and disappointments.

The film highlights dramatic developments that transformed the game: the crippling 1994 strike that left many fans disillusioned with their heroes; the increasing dominance of Latino and Asian players who turned baseball into a truly international game; baseball’s skyrocketing profits, thanks to new stadiums, interleague play, and the wild card; the rise of a new Yankee Dynasty; the Red Sox’ historic World Series victory; the astonishing feats of Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds; and the revelations about performance-enhancing drugs that cast a shadow on many of the era’s greatest stars and their accomplishments.

Combining extraordinary highlights, stunning still photographs, popular music of the period, and insightful commentary by players, managers, experts and fans, Burns and Novick’s The Tenth Inning interweaves the story of the national pastime with the story of America.  In an age of globalization, deregulation and speculation, the film demonstrates that baseball has continued to be a mirror of the country — at its best and at its worst. The film also movingly shows that when America felt most threatened, following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, baseball offered common ground, providing Americans with solace, distraction, and the hope that things could one day return to normal.

“Baseball has changed so much in the last 15 years, but at the same time, the reason that the game is so enduring is that it is timeless,” said Ken Burns. “Like the original series, this film pays tribute to one of our nation’s greatest institutions. We celebrate tremendous athletic achievements and examine the humanity and diversity of the players, the dynamic relationship with the fans, and all the layers and nuances that make a seemingly simple exercise of hitting a ball with a stick infinitely fascinating.”

“We have worked hard to provide a human dimension to the recent history of the game — to appreciate the great athletes who have given so much joy to so many, and to understand the real-world forces shaping their decisions,” Lynn Novick said. “For us as filmmakers, it has been tremendously exciting, and challenging, to try to do justice to this complicated story, and to try to understand what it says about who we are.”

A number of familiar faces from the first nine installments of the Baseball series add their welcome perspectives on events of the last 15 years, including writers Roger Angell, John Thorn, George Will, Gerald Early and Doris Kearns Goodwin, as well as broadcaster Bob Costas. The film also features revealing interviews with Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig, managers Felipe Alou and Joe Torre, players Pedro Martinez, Omar Vizquel and Ichiro Suzuki, broadcaster Keith Olbermann, writers Marcos Breton, Tom Verducci, Selena Roberts, Mike Barnicle and Howard Bryant, and other players, writers and fans from across the country, as well as overseas.

The program is directed by Burns and Novick and written and produced by David McMahon, Novick, and Burns.

WXXI Baseball Essay Contest for students in grades 4-12! (page 6 of the Education newsletter). Get baseball lesson plans to tie in the series and prepare students for the essay contest.

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