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Contest: The 7th Inning of Ken Burns' "Baseball"
I watched barely any of Ken Burns' "Baseball" documentary when it came out back in 1994, and I couldn't remember why I didn't have more interest. In the past year, I've made an effort to finally catch up, and the first six "Innings" were largely informative and enjoyable.
Then I watched the Seventh Inning, titled "The Capital of Baseball, 1950-1960," and I remembered why I slinked away from the series like an IHOP waitress blaming the cook for a misexecuted order of eggs over easy.
Baseball's "capital" during this era was New York, as you might have guessed, and this episode hits all of the proper stops in 159 minutes: Bobby Thomson's pennant-winning 1951 homer against the Dodgers, Willie Mays' 1954 catch, the Dodgers' 1955 title, Don Larsen's 1956 perfect game and the Dodgers' and Giants' moves out West following the 1957 season.
So what's the problem? Too many talking heads from the non-baseball world. OMG do I not care what Billy Crystal, Mario Cuomo, Stephen Jay Gould or Doris Kearns Goodwin thought about the events of the decade.
I suppose Burns was trying to tap into the fan passion that existed in the city at this time. Eh. For me, I felt like I was invited to a boring dinner party on Manhattan's Upper West Side.
Of course, the film highlights and interviews with participants and first-hand witnesses (like the great Vin Scully) are awesome. So there's reason to watch this. Just fast-forward through the non-playing baby boomers.
And now I'll give my copy to the first person who e-mails me - at firstname.lastname@example.org - with the correct answer to this question:
Who hit the most home runs in the major leagues from 1950 through 1960?
Here are the contest rules.
--UPDATE, 2:05 p.m.: We have a winner! Our old pal Richie G. knew that Duke Snider, with 340 home runs from 1950 through 1960, was the most productive slugger of that New York-centric era.