Swing For The Fence With Baseball's Greatest Legends! Journey back to baseball's Golden Era with Home Run Derby, the sport's ultimate power-hitting contest, featuring hall-of-famers such as Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Hank... more » Aaron, and Harmon Killebrew in the prime of their careers, slugging it out of the park for cash prizes and the honor of being named Home Run Derby Champion.« less
"HIGH FLY BALL BACK DEEP INTO LEFT FIELD....IT'S GOING WAY B
David Von Pein | Mooresville, Indiana; USA | 07/18/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Home Run Derby", a rarely-seen television show which had a short-lived original run from 1959 to 1961, has been on my "DVD Wish List" for several years. I never thought I'd ever be able to scratch this show off of that list.
But lo and behold, on July 10, 2007, MGM Home Entertainment (in conjunction with 20th Century Fox's distribution) released the first of three "Home Run Derby" volumes. What a pleasure it is, indeed, to be able to watch these great old baseball shows once again.
Hosted by Mark Scott, each episode of "Derby" is a half-hour, nine-inning home-run hitting contest, staged at Wrigley Field in Los Angeles (which was, at the time of filming, a minor-league ballpark; but it soon became the home of the American League Los Angeles Angels, when the league expanded in 1961).
Many of the top sluggers from both the N.L. and A.L. competed in the televised "Home Run Derby" contests, including perennial All-Stars like Hank Aaron, Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, and Duke Snider.
The winner of each week's "Derby" received $2,000 for his victory and would be invited to come back the next week to swing for the fences against another big-league opponent.
Some of the "at the desk" chats that Mark Scott has with the players are a bit stiff and awkward, especially some of the small talk with Willie Mays, who has always resembled living cardboard whenever he finds himself in front of a movie or TV camera. But, man, that guy could sure hit a baseball! ~wink~
But I don't really care about the stiffness of the conversations on the sidelines, because it's still great fun just to see (and hear) these legends of the game in their prime....forever frozen in the late 1950s and very early 1960s on DVD.
And Scott's play-by-play is a bit redundant at times, including the very similar way he calls many of the "Derby" home runs (see the title of my review for an example). But this, too, doesn't matter to me, because Scott is a very likeable and affable announcer/host, and that comes across on screen as well, in my opinion.
On a very sad note, Mark Scott died of a heart attack in July 1960 (at the age of only 45), and the "Home Run Derby" series was not continued beyond the first 26 episodes (all of which are being released on DVD by MGM in Summer 2007, spanning three volumes).
This first volume of "Home Run Derby" consists of the first 8 fence-pounding episodes of the series, while Volume 2 and Volume 3 contain 9 programs apiece.
Here's a list of all the players who make at least one "Derby" appearance during the course of the 26-episode TV series:
Mickey Mantle, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Frank Robinson, Ernie Banks, Gil Hodges, Eddie Mathews, Duke Snider, Al Kaline, Jackie Jensen, Rocky Colavito, Harmon Killebrew, Ken Boyer, Bob Cerv, Wally Post, Dick Stuart, Bob Allison, Gus Triandos, and Jim Lemon.
SOME WRIGLEY FIELD TRIVIA:
During the one and only season when Major League Baseball was played at Los Angeles' Wrigley Field (in 1961, when Wrigley was home to the Los Angeles Angels), a big-league record was set there when 248 home runs (more than three per game on the average) were swatted by American League batters, who just loved the short, reachable power alleys (which measured only 345 feet in both left-center and right-center).
So, as evidenced by those 1961 numbers, it's fairly obvious that Wrigley Field in L.A. (not to be confused with the famous ivy-covered ballpark of the same name in Chicago) was ideally suited for "Home Run Derby".
The California version of Wrigley Field, which hosted its first baseball game in September 1925, was never occupied by another pro team after the 1961 season and was torn down in 1966.
Here's a photograph of Wrigley Field in Los Angeles, circa 1950.
Single-sided, dual-layered disc.
Total running time of this DVD is 193 minutes (the specification grid on the DVD package is incorrect; it shows 240 minutes). Each episode lasts just a tad more than 24 minutes (see the detailed figures provided later in this review).
The originally-aired Gillette commercials are not included on the DVD (which is a bit unfortunate, because some of those old 1959 TV ads would have been nice to see too).
Chapter breaks have been inserted, but not for every inning (or half inning). The chapter stops are random and occur about once every five minutes during each program. There are 6 total "chapters" per show, including a separate one for the ending credits.
Video is Black-and-White (Full-Frame; Original TV Ratio; 1.33:1). The picture quality is quite good too.
Audio is in English only (via Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono).
Subtitles have been provided in English, Spanish, and French.
Menus are simple, silent, and static. The Main Menu provides instant access to any of the eight programs on the disc. The only Sub-Menu is for "Language Selection".
A "Play All" option is available (the Main Menu defaults to this choice each time the disc is loaded).
Bonus Features -- None.
Packaging -- Standard type of plastic "Keep Case". Plus, a cardboard slipcover (slipcase) is also included, which slides over the plastic case. The slipcover's artwork, which features a picture of Mickey Mantle swinging for the fences on the front, is identical to the artwork on the inner keep case, except that the photo of Mantle on the outer slipcase has a glossy 3D kind of effect added to it. A pretty nifty little effect too.
Here are the eight match-ups that can be found on "Home Run Derby: Volume One" (with the exact length of each program included):
1.) Mickey Mantle vs. Willie Mays (24:04) 2.) Ernie Banks vs. Mickey Mantle (24:09) 3.) Jackie Jensen vs. Mickey Mantle (24:12) 4.) Harmon Killebrew vs. Mickey Mantle (24:02) 5.) Rocky Colavito vs. Harmon Killebrew (24:09) 6.) Ken Boyer vs. Harmon Killebrew (24:12) 7.) Hank Aaron vs. Ken Boyer (24:08) 8.) Jim Lemon vs. Hank Aaron (24:11)
A FINAL WORD:
There's no better way to remember the golden baseball age of Mantle, Mays, and Aaron (and many other stars of that era) than by watching this DVD. The superstar-filled half-hours on this disc are nearly as good as having your own time machine -- with the dial set to 1959 and 1960.
David Von Pein July 2007"
Home Runs WITHOUT Performance-Enhancing Drugs!
Granten Lee | Maryland | 07/24/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Home Run Derby was a 1959-1960 television show where the top longball hitters of that era would compete in head-to-head contests for cash prizes. The rules were similar to today's Home Run Derbys at the All-Star Game. In fact, nine future Hall-of-Famers, including Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Harmon Killebrew and Mickey Mantle would be featured on the show. Tragically, the show's host, Mark Scott, died of a heart attack in 1960 and the show was then cancelled.
I don't know what kind of ratings the program got while it aired, but it's a pretty bland black-and-white show compared to today's TV. I bought it because I love the old flannel uniforms and old neighborhood ballparks (the show was filmed at Wrigley Field in Los Angeles, what was home to the minor-league LA Angels and Hollywod Stars and the first home of the Major League LA Angels). But it occured to me that EVERY SINGLE HOME RUN IS FREE OF STEROIDS, HGH, ANDRO OR ANY OTHER SUBSTANCES. Suddenly, this makes a very unspectacular program pretty spectacular.
And of course, it's great to watch Mickey Mantle at a time when his drinking and carousing were kept out of the media spotlight, and a young Hank Aaron, long before he and his home run record were the targets of racist bigots.
Home Run Derby is a great program, and two more volumes are due out summer 2007. A lot of fun to watch!"
WOW True Classic Baseball!!!
ChrisP | 05/27/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I remember the days of watching this on ESPN and I always wanted the chance to watch it again. You get to see the "true" home run hitters, such as Mantle, Aaron, Wagner...and the list goes on. For any true baseball fan this gives you the chance to relive the good ole' days of baseball, and watch home runs hit in classic Wrigley Field. This is nothing like the home run derby of today at the All Star Game, it's better."
David J. Zukowski | Wyandotte, MI,USA | 07/30/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Brass tacks. It's an archaic term, dating back to when wall-to-wall floor coverings had to be replaced because the used areas had been worn away to the brass tacks that held them down, giving a visual indication that it was time to go to work. Home Run Derby was literally such a show. Filmed at Wrigley field in Los Angeles with no crowd of spectators, there were three umpires, three minor league outfielders, a catcher, a batting practice pitcher, two Major League sluggers and host Mark Scott in attendance to determine who could hit more pitches over the equidistant walls of the park. The lack of an audience adds to the business-like atmosphere of the proceedings, as does Scott's old-school generic announcing style. Watch an episode after ESPN's bombastic annual All-Star presentation with resident windbag Chris Berman and shed a quiet tear for the passing of subtlety in baseball. I won't tell you who wins the competition, but, if you're more than a weekend fan, you probably already know. Worth the time and money."
59 Cool !
Brian J. McCarthy | Minneapolis, MN | 07/17/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Very enjoyable and very funny. Mark Scott: "Back, back.. back......caught.!" Very cheesy production values makes it all the more fun. I loved the episode with Ernie Banks and Mantle. If you are a true baseball fan over 40, you will really enjoy this dvd."