SUBJECTS — Baseball; U.S./ All periods 1840 to present & Diversity/African-American;
SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL LEARNING — Sportsmanship;
MORAL-ETHICAL EMPHASIS — Fairness.
AGE: Age: 10+; No MPAA Rating;
Documentary; 1994, 9 volumes; Color. Available from Amazon.com.
Give your students new perspectives on race relations, on the history of the American Revolution, and on the contribution of the Founding Fathers to the cause of representative democracy. Check out TWM’s Guide:
Ken Burns’ nine-part documentary on baseball examines the players, the games, and the baseball business. It also provides revealing insights into U.S. social history by showing how the development of baseball followed, and in some cases led, changes in U.S. society as a whole. The series is divided into the following parts:
Inning 1. Our Game: the 1840’s – 1900
Inning 2. Something Like War: 1900 – 1910
Inning 3. The Faith of Fifty Million People: 1910 – 1920
Inning 4. A National Heirloom: 1920 – 1930
Inning 5. The Shadow Ball: 1930 – 1940
Inning 6. The National Pastime: 1940 – 1950
Inning 7. The Capital of Baseball: 1950 – 1960
Inning 8. A Whole New Ball Game: 1960 – 1970
Inning 9. Home: 1970 – 1994.
SELECTED AWARDS & CAST
Selected Awards: 1995 Emmy Awards: Outstanding Informational Series; Outstanding Individual Achievement Informational Programming.
Featured Actors: None.
Director: Ken Burns.
BENEFITS OF THE MOVIE
“Baseball” is an excellent way to spark an interest in U.S. history classes among kids who are focused on sports. Some of the changes in society and in baseball examined by this series include: racial integration; the widening disparity between the lives of common people and the lives of celebrities; the increasing freedom allowed to women; increased violence; the immigration melting pot; labor/management relations; and the advent of radio and television. The series includes many original film clips of historical value.
This movie is an excellent resource for filling up rainy days in physical education classes.
This is a documentary of massive scope. It provides its own historical background information.
Perhaps the most pressing problem in professional baseball today is to reconcile the multi-million dollar salaries with the idea of sportsmanship. Another big problem is the use of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs.
QUICK DISCUSSION QUESTION:
What is the most pressing problem for baseball today and how does that relate to sportsmanship?
There is no one right answer. Possibilities include: (1) the high salaries of the stars that dwarf what normal people make and separate them from their fans; (2) ski high ticket prices; and (3) competition from other, faster-paced sports.
2. There is something unique about baseball and its relationship with the U.S. and its people. What is it?
3. Ask your child if he or she knows some expressions which come from baseball. See who can name the most. [Examples: “play hardball,” “strike out,” “get to first base,” “get to second base,” “get home,” “home run,” “hit that one out of the park,” “grand slam,” “it’s in the ballpark,” “rain check.”
4. Why was baseball one of the first institutions in the United States to become racially integrated?
5. Why did Branch Ricki make Jackie Robinson promise not to fight back for two years?
1. What is the most pressing problem for baseball today and how does that relate to sportsmanship? Suggested Response: Perhaps the most pressing problem in professional baseball today is to reconcile the multi-million dollar salaries with the idea of sportsmanship. Another big problem is the use of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs.
For additional questions on Sportsmanship, see questions under the heading “Fairness” below.
MORAL-ETHICAL EMPHASIS (CHARACTER COUNTS)
Discussion Questions Relating to Ethical Issues will facilitate the use of this film to teach ethical principles and critical viewing. Additional questions are set out below.
(Play by the rules; Take turns and share; Be open-minded; listen to others; Don’t take advantage of others; Don’t blame others carelessly)
1. Why is it necessary for baseball as a sport to be uncompromising in its punishment of athletes who “throw” games? Is this a moral decision or an economic decision or both?
2. Why does baseball severely punish and will ultimately expel any baseball player, even a great star, who gambles? Is this a moral decision or an economic decision or both?
ASSIGNMENTS, PROJECTS & ACTIVITIES
BRIDGES TO READING
Ken Burns and Geoffrey C. Ward, have written a book called “Baseball: An Illustrated History” based on their painstaking research for the documentary series. The book includes photographs from the series.
Last updated December 9, 2009.
LEARNING GUIDE MENU:
RANDALL KENNEDY, Professor, Harvard Law School on the two alternative traditions relating to racism in America:
“I say that the best way to address this issue is to address it forthrightly, and straightforwardly, and embrace the complicated history and the complicated presence of America. On the one hand, that’s right, slavery, and segregation, and racism, and white supremacy is deeply entrenched in America. At the same time, there has been a tremendous alternative tradition, a tradition against slavery, a tradition against segregation, a tradition against racism.
I mean, after all in the past 25 years, the United States of America has seen an African-American presence. As we speak, there is an African-American vice president. As we speak, there’s an African- American who is in charge of the Department of Defense. So we have a complicated situation. And I think the best way of addressing our race question is to just be straightforward, and be clear, and embrace the tensions, the contradictions, the complexities of race in American life. I think we need actually a new vocabulary.
So many of the terms we use, we use these terms over and over, starting with racism, structural racism, critical race theory. These words actually have been weaponized. They are vehicles for propaganda. I think we would be better off if we were more concrete, we talked about real problems, and we actually used a language that got us away from these overused terms that actually don’t mean that much. From Fahreed Zakaria, Global Public Square, CNN, December 26, 2021
Give your students new perspectives on race relations, on the history of the American Revolution, and on the contribution of the Founding Fathers to the cause of representative democracy. Check out TWM’s Guide: TWO CONTRASTING TRADITIONS RELATING TO RACISM IN AMERICA and a Tragic Irony of the American Revolution: the Sacrifice of Freedom for the African-American Slaves on the Altar of Representative Democracy.
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