All-Star Action Swings to DVD23 Jun, 2004 By: Dan Bennett
Baseball is a game that was born in the streets of the big cities, not in quiet pastures, so it's not surprising that baseball's annual All-Star Game has always been intense.
That intensity, along with vintage footage and rarely-seen interviews, is evident in Awesome All-Star Action, available July 6 from Q Video and Major League Baseball Productions, priced at $19.95 DVD.
The title explores the rich history of the annual game, which after this summer's edition will have been played 75 times, though the game was postponed for a couple of summers during World War II.
“You look back at the footage of the game going back many years, and you can see how hard they played,” said David Gavant, executive producer and VP for Major League Baseball Productions. “These guys wanted to beat each other's brains out. There was a lot of pride, a lot at stake. During one stretch, the National League had won the game 19 out of 20 times, and then different cycles began. The game has always been important to players.”
Major League Baseball has a library of vintage footage unmatched in sports, so finding material was easy — it was deciding which highlights to include that proved to be a challenge.
“The footage we have dates back to 1905 and up to 1943. A lot of that footage was captured by newsreels,” Gavant said. “Then in 1943, the government commissioned MLB to produce World Series and All-Star Game films to send to the troops overseas, so the footage became even better and more plentiful.”
Much of the older footage needed to be restored, but technology has made that process much easier, Gavant said.
“Our goal was to make certain that every All-Star game ever played was somehow represented,” he said.
The title is separated into several sections, including “The Best of the Best,” “The Batsmen,” “The Moundsmen,” “The Atmosphere” and even “The Laughter,” which includes a hilarious encounter between powerful left-handed pitcher Randy Johnson and well-known jokester John Kruk at bat. Then there are the heroics, with standout performances from legendary players Willie Mays, Carl Hubbell and Ted Williams.
“We all know what a great player Willie Mays was, and he shined in the All-Star games,” said Jed Tuminaro, producer of Awesome All-Star Action. “He helped build this game and turn it into what it's become.”
The title also pays attention to the Home Run Derby, the star-studded event that takes place the day before the game and has become immensely popular with fans. Then there is the old-school material, such as pitcher Carl Hubbell talking in an interview many years ago about the time he struck out five Hall of Famers in a row in an All-Star game.
“For young fans, the '80s might seem like an eternity ago, but many of them know who Bo Jackson is,” Gavant said. “This is a program where they can actually see him play. It's a title that should appeal to both intense and casual fans, old and young.”