10/29/12 4:27 PM ET
New DVD set chronicles all past World Series
By Mark Newman / MLB.com
The MLB.com Shop now offers "The World Series: History of the Fall Classic" Deluxe DVD Set for just $34.99, featuring four DVDs narrated by Bob Costas and presented by Major League Baseball Productions. The definitive set chronicles every World Series and is loaded with breathtaking footage, classic calls and interviews galore, and it's a great way to compare Fall Classics like the one you just saw with any of its predecessors.
It is far more comprehensive than the average fan could possibly digest in a single setting, intended to be savored instead in multiple helpings over time, a collectible to share with family and friends, knowledge to be passed on, an ideal early-holiday shopping gift for you or anyone else and a throwback to remind you of your own development in life.
"There's not only the thrill of October baseball and baseball at its finest, and most memorable, it's also a flashback through your own personal history," said MLB official historian John Thorn, one of more than 100 experts who provided analysis in the set. "We use the game to mark time in our own lives.
"So when you see the '64 or '61 World Series, you remember exactly where you were. When Jack Morris threw the shutout in '91, you remember exactly who you were, because that might be a very different person than you are now. While it's not exactly a family album, it's a flip through the personal Rolodex. You recall the people you saw the games with, where you were in your career or your education."
The four DVDs are composed as follows:
Introduction, featuring a dramatic collage of highlights and interviews through more than a century, followed by a year-by-year look at every World Series from 1903-64.
1965-present, year by year.
World Series programs, lineup of star players, ceremonial first pitches, media bloopers, clubhouse interviews, additional interviews, Boys & Girls Clubs of America footage and World Series MVPs.
Clinchers: This DVD is entirely devoted to the last out and celebration scenes. It goes decade by decade starting with the 1950s, because that is when TV began showing them. It starts with the '52 Yankees and has a unique look at Yogi Berra getting a piggy-back ride after the last out.
Thorn calls the footage in the DVD set "astounding," and few are better-suited to make that observation than the foremost chronicler of the game's past. He specifically alludes to the 1909 Tigers-Pirates footage, showing Ty Cobb and Honus Wagner mingling around the field, and the 1910 Philadelphia A's cavorting at Chicago's predecessor to Wrigley Field.
It is a case study in the evolution of broadcast technology, seen uniquely in this perspective.
"The imperfections of the early years are evocative and nostalgic," Thorn said, "but it's tough to beat the angles of naughts and teens."
He said one thing that was especially striking to him was the ease with which we compare eras.
"You put it in the perspective of this year's four Division Series," Thorn said. "You see the  Bill Buckner game, and you realize that the Mets faced a possible third strike; they were one pitch away from defeat the entire World Series 12 times. St. Louis at Washington this year, same scenario five times. And amazingly, the manager of the losing team this year was the manager of the winning team in '86 -- Davey Johnson.
"We talk about baseball being a long season. It's also a long story, because the seasons pile up like boxcars. But when you see a series like this, from 1903-2012, it's not just one thing after another. Certain series match up perfectly and fit with other series that are maybe decades later. So in the imagination we tell the story not in a linear way, but we match up."
Thorn said he watched his first World Series on TV in 1956.
"It's easy to romanticize; we believe the best baseball ever played is this generation right before our eyes now," he said. "You put the '27 Yankees up against, say, the '98 Yankees. I know which team I'd pick -- I'd go for the '98 crew. But in watching this DVD set, it's as if we create a level playing field, and we wonder how those '27 Yanks would have done against the '98 Yankees or the '46 Cardinals. It's like we have a distillation of Major League history just by looking at the very best teams each year."
One of the best things MLB Productions did in this set was to cull a vast trove of televised interviews over the decades with writers, broadcasters and former players, and weave them throughout this set. Many of those voices are sadly silenced today, but their presence lives on here. Consider Mark Koenig, shortstop on the '27 Yankees, who appears later in life looking back at that series against Pittsburgh. Generations meet; it's all here in this set.
"The postseason as it is currently being played absolutely measures up with these classics of the past," Thorn said. "You had four Division Series each ending with a Game 5, never happened before. And we're coming off that fantastic World Series last year."
What will people say about this World Series years from now? Time will tell. This DVD set is the way to compare it, and you might find yourself saying the same thing Tom Seaver says in the "Locker Room Interviews" section, taken from his exuberance in the Amazin' Mets' 1969 postgame victory celebration scene at old Shea Stadium:
"Beautiful, just beautiful."