PBS announced today that The Tenth Inning — Ken Burns’ two-part, four-hour followup to his landmark 1994 series Baseball — will be airing Sept. 28-29.
The documentary tells the tumultuous story of our national pastime from the early ’90s through the present day, highlighting developments that transformed the game, including the crippling 1994 strike that left many fans disillusioned; the increasing dominance of Latino and Asian players, which helped turn the sport into a truly international game; the sport’s skyrocketing profits thanks to new stadiums, interleague play and the wild card; the rise of a new Yankee dynasty; the historic World Series victory of the Red Sox; the feats of Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds, and the revelations about performance-enhancing drugs that cast a shadow on the accomplishments of those athletes and others. Also notable is a look at how, after the attacks of 9/11, baseball offered common ground to America, providing its citizens with solace, distraction and hope for normalcy again.
Familiar faces from the original series return to add their perspectives on more recent events, including writers Roger Angell, John Thorn, George Will, Gerald Early and Doris Kearns Goodwin, as well as broadcaster Bob Costas. The film also features interviews with MLB commissioner Bud Selig, managers Felipe Alou and Joe Torre, players Pedro Martinez, Omar Vizquel and Ichiro Suzuki, broadcaster Keith Olbermann, and other players, writers and fans from around the country and overseas.
Tying in with the series will be an updated version of the companion Baseball book, which will also be released in September.
“Baseball has changed so much in the last 15 years,” says Burns, “but at the same time, the reason that the game is so enduring is that it is timeless. Like the original series, this film pays tribute to one of our nation’s greatest institutions. We celebrate tremendous athletic achievements and examine the humanity and diversity of the players, the dynamic relationship with the fans, and all the layers and nuances that make a seemingly simple exercise of hitting a ball with a stick infinitely fascinating.”
Red Sox: AP Photo/Chitose Suzuki
Barry Bonds: Sports Illustrated/Getty Images