YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

COUNTERPUNCH LETTERS : By This Time, 'Baseball' Has Gone to Extra Innings

October 17, 1994

This is in response to Saul Halpert's Counterpunch, " 'Baseball' Ran On Interminably, Illustrating Why PBS Falls Short" (Oct. 3):

I come from a small town, Kimballton, Iowa, population 370, and my dad took the collections when the "All-Stars" came to town to play a gathering of our players.This was in the '30s. Plus, we were privileged to have Fellers All Stars and Satchel Paige's Royals go through our town. The memories that flooded my mind, and the tears that followed, told me that those times were relived in my memory and my heart watching "Baseball."

I grew up knowing only baseball. I, and all my friends, had only the dreams that were portrayed in the papers and on the radio. The collectors' cards--oh, how I wish I had kept them--were something to cherish. Can you remember the old players that were on the news in the '30s and '40s? I can, and I remember how it thrilled me time and again as I watched the replays of some of those memories.

Nothing can replace memories like these, but Ken Burns' special was something I will cherish and hold dear to my heart. It wasn't boring to me. It thrilled me, time and again, and I didn't care if "Star-Spangled Banner" was played so much. I loved it. What a tribute to America . I say, God bless America and "Baseball."




I'm afraid Halpert was too kind; the show was a disaster. The format was all wrong: The historians should have been discarded in favor of current or former players and managers.

The show seemed biased in favor of New York teams and seemed to fawn over them forever. It seemed to concentrate too much on the early teams, and we didn't need to know what these teams ate. And I can't remember seeing a front-office executive. The only interesting parts were the recollections of Negro League veterans. I'm sorry, Ken Burns, but you struck out.




Halpert complained about hearing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" and "Star-Spangled Banner" again and again throughout the series. What he apparently did not notice was the giant difference between versions of these songs played on successive nights. As a student of musicology, I found it fascinating to hear the national anthem played each night in what were fairly authentic arrangements for the period of time being chronicled.

Burns' epic show was never intended to be an 18-hour miniseries about baseball. It was intended to be a slice of American history, seen through the glasses of the great American pastime.

Add to this the testimony of my wife, who hates baseball with a passion and rarely watches television. Guess what? She watched every minute of the miniseries, despite giving birth to our son three hours before the last episode. Now that's good television.


Long Beach


Burns continues to challenge viewers to look more deeply and thoughtfully into a subject than the medium of television normally allows. In both his "Civil War" and "Baseball" series, he asked for a commitment from his audience and in turn rewarded them with an engaging and vivid retelling of history. Why does Halpert find fault with this?


El Segundo


Ken Burns for baseball commissioner!


Sherman Oaks


Counterpunch letters have been running about 5 to 1 in favor of "Baseball." These are representative.

Los Angeles Times Articles