Ken Burns’ Baseball, Inning 1

Netflix was finally able to get the original 9-part documentary by Ken Burns about the great game, and despite being a huge fan I have never actually seen it. There are so many little factoids that are brought up as a part of it that despite my high level of knowledge regarding the history of the game, still surprised me to find out.

  • The Dodgers were originally known as the “Trolley Dodgers”, hence where the Dodgers moniker came from.
  • “It is a haunted game in which all players are measured against the ghosts of all who have gone before.”
  • The game of baseball was believed “too violent” for women to play.
  • The first conspiracy to throw games was in only the 2nd season of the National League with Jim Devlin and 3 others being paid to throw games in the 1877 pennant race. Devlin and the others were banned from baseball permanently.
  • Louisville Slugger was formed essentially out of luck – Pete Browning asked Hillerich to make a new bat for him after his previous bat broke. Browning then went 3 for 3 that day.
  • It’s amazing how many of the players in the early years of the league would find any way that they could to get little advantages via loopholes in the rules.
  • Players attempted to fight the reserve clause as far back as the late 1890s, with little or no success at all.
  • Daniel Okrent made a pair of appearances in the episode as well, discussing some of the historical anecdotes. Besides being an editor and also a historian, Okrent is known for helping to invent rotisserie baseball.

I’m really looking forward to watching the rest of the documentary, as Inning 1 only got us to the turn of the century.

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