Baseball is seen as the quintessentially American sport with good reason. Emerging by the mid-nineteenth century as the nation’s most popular game, baseball provided each new wave of immigrants with an avenue into American culture. Includes interviews with former player Al Rosen, sports historian Maury Allen, celebrity enthusiasts Larry King and Ron Howard, and all-stars Shawn Green and Kevin Youklis, as well as a rare interview with baseball legend Sandy Koufax.
JEWS AND BASEBALL traces the Jewish involvement in the history of the sport from the game’s earliest days, through the tumultuous war years to today’s All-Star games. By bringing to life dramatic moments in this history, including how the legendary Sandy Koufax pioneered rights for players and Hank Greenberg’s support of Jackie Robinson, the film demonstrates how Jews shaped baseball, and baseball shaped them. Narrated by two-time Academy Award® winner Dustin Hoffman, this lively and thorough account of Jewish America’s love affair with baseball sheds new light on America’s national pastime.
As far as documentaries about sports go, there are hundreds to choose from on any given day. Mix in the influx of sports movies over the past decade and you really aren’t left wanting for any kind of dissection of a particular sport—every major one has been picked apart in great detail over the years. Thankfully Jews and Baseball, as indicated by its very blatant title, is a different kind of film. The documentary is just as it sounds and follows the Jewish interest in baseball from the games beginnings to where it is now. Everything from fans, to managers, to celebrities, to actual players are interviewed and covered here in quite exhaustive detail—plenty of interesting interviews and unique angles to look at when delving into this narrow-focused topic.
I’m a fan of the sport, though I admittedly have more fun playing it than I do watching or following it, but I do enjoy going to a game on occasion. That very sentence should paint me as a mere casual viewer of the sport, so I can’t even begin to share the same devotion and interest that anyone involved with this documentary can, but it is still a very interesting documentary regardless. It’s an interesting “angle” to explore, although when you take a step back it’s pretty obvious the Jewish involvement with baseball—not so much even the game of it, but just the enjoyment of it and how passionate and enthusiastic they are about the sport.
There really isn’t too much to tackle with this one. There are plenty of great interviews pushed into this ninety minute documentary and when it gets mixed with footage of the game, it’s a hard one to ignore and not want to pick up if you’re a fan of baseball. And even if you’re like me who only (very) occasionally enjoys the sport, it’s still an interesting and Recommended documentary to check out.
New Video/docuramafilms brings Jews and Baseball to DVD in a standard amaray DVD case. Nothing overly special about the presentation of the documentary here—no fancy exterior cardboard slipcase and the cover itself looks rather simplistic. Video and audio is a solid presentation overall and about what you’d expect from a documentary. As can be expected from a documentary the video is in 1.85:1 and the audio is a simple DD2.0 mix. Extras include:
Sophie Milman Sings “Take Me Out To the Ball Game”
Overall a disc that’s worth a Rental as I’m not sure if you’d ever want to come back and watch this a second time, but it’s definitely worth checking out at least once.
Jews and Baseball arrives on DVD on April 21st.