10 Innings, 10 Drafts (one season Drafted & played at a time)
1st Inning – “Our Game” (1885-1899)
Play Ball ! How Baseball began and evolved in America in the1800's. Spread Across America through the Civil War- a Yankee soldier outfielder was once captured while chasing down a fly ball. Everyone in America seemed to catch Baseball Fever and it really became OUR Game. From high society clubs teams in New York plyaing in expensive taiolred uniforms, to local mill and factory teams in almost every town in America playing in homesown ones. Great ball players hit the American landscape to become heroes the likes of Pete Browning, Hugh Duffy, Joe Kelley, Billy Hamilton, Ed Delahanty, King Kelly, Hughie Jennings, Jesse Burkett, Sam Thompson and Tip O'Neil.
2nd Inning – “Something Like A War” (1900-1909)
This inning covers approximately 1900 to 1910, and includes the formation of the American League and its integration with the National League, culminating in the establishment of the World Series, as well as the emergence of the game's first great star, Christy Mathewson, which helps to clean up baseball's image as a rowdy, brawling game. Ty Cobb is discussed in depth (the title of this inning comes from one of his many quotes).
3rd Inning – “The Faith of Fifty Million People” (1910-1919)
This inning covers approximately 1910 to 1920, and follows baseball as it goes through its greatest era of popularity yet. It heavily focuses on the Black Sox Scandal, taking its title from a line in the novel The Great Gatsby. The line refers to how easy it was for gamblers to tamper with the faith that people put in the game's fairness.
4th Inning – “A National Heirloom” (1920-1929)
This inning covers approximately 1920 to 1930, and focuses on baseball's recovery from the Black Sox Scandal, giving much of the credit to the increase in power hitting throughout the game, led by its savior Babe Ruth. The title comes from what sports writers called Ruth.
5th Inning – “Shadow Ball” (1930-1939)
This inning covers approximately 1930 to 1940. While Burns has not shied away from discussing the plight of African-Americans up to this point, a great deal of this inning covers the Negro Leagues, and the great players and organizers who were excluded from the Major Leagues. Also the episode deals with organized Baseball's response to the Great Depression, as well as the sad decline of its most iconic star, Babe Ruth, and also the emergence of new heroes, like Bob Feller, Hank Greenberg, and Joe DiMaggio.
6th Inning – “The National Pastime” (1940-1949)
This inning covers approximately 1940 to 1950. The emphasis here is on baseball finally becoming what it had always purported to be: A national game. As African-Americans are finally permitted for good into Major League Baseball, led by Jackie Robinson. This inning also looks at how the game was influenced as a result of World War II and how the game became, more than ever, a symbol of America itself.
7th Inning – “The Capital of Baseball” (1950-1959)
This inning covers approximately 1950 to 1960. Burns emphasizes the greatness of the three teams based in New York (the New York Yankees, the New York Giants, and Brooklyn Dodgers). This inning also covers one of baseball's golden eras and how America's own changes, such as leaving the crowded cites for suburbia and teams moving to the west coast.
8th Inning – “A Whole New Ballgame” (1960-1969)
This inning covers approximately 1960 to 1970. As the nation underwent turbulent changes, baseball was not immune, as Babe Ruth's beloved record of 60 home runs in a season is threatened by a sullen and complicated player, Roger Maris, and for the first time in decades, pitchers, led by stars Sandy Koufax and Bob Gibson, dominate the game. The loss of home run power and betrayal to the game's past, combined with the meteoric rise of football, cause many to turn their back on baseball. Expansion and labor are major topics in this inning.
9th Inning – “Home” (1970-1993)
The final inning covers approximately 1970 to 1993. While baseball survived the 1960s, the changes were not over, and in some ways its most bitter conflicts were just beginning. Major topics include the formation of the players' union, the owners' collusion, free agency, and drug, as well as gambling scandals. However, the game manages to win back the hearts of many with such moments as the excitement of the 1975 World Series and the return of the New York Yankees to dominance. The documentary ends with an ironic boast that baseball (and indirectly the World Series) had survived wars, depressions, pandemics, and numbers of scandals and thus could never be stopped. Ironically, the 1994 World Series, the series to be played the year the film first aired on PBS, was cancelled due to a players' strike. This marked the first time since 1904 that the World Series was not played.
10th Inning- “Extra Innings” (1994 - present)
Baseball rounds 3rd and heads for home after surviving the 1994 strike and the rampant abuse of PED’s and ensuing crackdown as Baseball survives and thrives to come out the other side almost as simple and perfect a game as it was 150 years ago…