July 8, 2007

NOW THAT'S MUST-SEE TV:

With Old-School Sluggers, A 'Derby' Done Right (Curt Fields, 7/06/07, Washington Post)

[I]t will lack the innocent charm of "Home Run Derby, Volume One," which is being released Tuesday by MGM Home Entertainment ($14.98). "Home Run Derby" was a television show in 1959 that pitted baseball's great power hitters against each other in head-to-head matchups. The rules were essentially "home run or nothing," as grounders, pop flies, strikes and fouls all counted as outs. Each batter got three outs per inning in a nine-inning contest. Along with its original run, the show has occasionally been broadcast on such outlets as ESPN Classic, although it has been several years since its last television appearance.

Some of the legendary names of the sport took part. Eight episodes are featured on "Volume One," and they include Mickey Mantle vs. Willie Mays, Mantle vs. Ernie Banks, Hank Aaron vs. Ken Boyer and -- Senators fans, take note -- Mantle vs. Harmon Killebrew and Aaron vs. Jim Lemon.

The winner of each contest received $2,000, and the loser got a consolation prize of $1,000. If someone hit three homers in a row, he picked up a $500 bonus. It's enlightening in the fat-contract era of today to see the players' obvious intensity and desire to pick up the extra cash to supplement their incomes.

Watching icons of the game in their primes is satisfaction enough for many fans. But the true value of the show is in seeing a glimpse of their personalities.


Posted by Orrin Judd at July 8, 2007 7:28 AM
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