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LOS ANGELES DODGERS
Vintage World Series

Review by Mark Wiechman

Stars:  Don Drysdale, Steve Garvey, Tommy LaSorda, Sandy Koufax, Gil Hodges
Director:  Various
Audio:  Dolby Stereo
Video:  Color Full Screen
Studio:  A&E Home Video
Length:  295 Minutes, two discs
Release Date: 
July 25, 2006usic, drama without words." Ernie Harwell

“A baseball game is simply a nervous breakdown divided into nine innings.”  Earl Wilson

“I see great things in baseball.  It's our game - the American game.  It will take our people out-of-doors, fill them with oxygen, give them a larger physical stoicism.  Tend to relieve us from being a nervous, dyspeptic set.  Repair these losses, and be a blessing to us.”  Walt Whitman

“Baseball is a fun game.  It beats working for a living.”  Phil Linz

Film ***

Baseball is, much like America itself, so amazing and wonderful, yet so contradictory.  A team can play so well for one or two whole games then completely fall apart for the next four and a whole world series goes down the toilet.  Unlike football, in which offenses can turn score so many points in less than a minute, baseball takes time, and even scholars like George Will admit that there is more luck involved in baseball than in many sports. It takes more games to determine who gets fired from who goes to the playoffs, then a few more to separate who wins a series from who becomes a footnote. 

One of the wisest observations I have ever heard is that about one-third of the games played determine who goes to the World Series and who gets fired, since the best teams usually lose about one-third of their games and the worst win about one-third.  It is the “other” third which makes all of the difference. 

Watching this great set, the strangest thing about the 1959 Series is the way it ended.  When the Dodgers won, they merely trotted off the field, and that was it.  Today, the champion team goes ballistic, as if they discovered eternal youth in a bottle.  There’s nothing wrong with celebrating of course, but…my how times have changed.  The other change is that in 1959, the players were younger overall but look older, probably because of crew cuts, whereas today it is not unusual for players to still be active into their 40’s, but they look younger. 

I was anxious to see this DVD set because my mother’s family grew up in Brooklyn and had never forgiven the Dodgers for leaving Brooklyn for LA in 1958.  Though this series only discusses the team once they moved to LA, it is nevertheless the more winning part of the saga.  There had never been a world series in LA before.

The 1959 Series between the LA Dodgers the Chicago White Sox was one such series, in which the Dodgers just could not do anything right in Game 1, in which they lost 11-0.  But this seemed to not faze them at all, and they evened it up in Game 2. 

The video footage is in full color and is much better than you would expect for 1959, plenty of artifacts from the time but actually very smooth and great play-by-play narration.  It has the usual symphonic soundtrack but combined with the crew cuts and beehives, makes for great entertainment.  And the baseball itself is great of course.  Seeing more than 90,000 fans in attendance for three games in a row certainly seemed to confirm the wisdom of moving the Dodgers west…sorry, Grandma. 

The 1963 series victory against the Yankees was the first time David slew Goliath.  That’s how I see it, and I’m sticking to my completely biased version of events.   Koufax, despite being from Brooklyn, had no problem finishing off the so-called Brooklyn Bombers and setting records for strikeouts in the process.   Even Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris could not stop the Dodgers. 

The 1965 series was interesting since the Dodgers were up 3-0 then let the Twins tie it up 3-3 before winning the final game thanks to Sandy Koufax’s “Golden Arm.” 

Naturally the best-known Dodgers victories to modern audiences are the 1980’s victories in which the initimable Tommy Lasorda, Steve Garvey, and Fernando Valenzuela brought victory back to LA in 1981 and 1988.  The 1981 series was almost Biblical, with these two teams reigniting their bitter rivalry.  It was almost like America vs. the USSR, East vs. West, with victory over the Yankees with Goose Gossage, Lou Pinella, and Reggie Jackson being especially sweet.  The “mystical power” of the Yankees could not overcome…well, the better team.  And the victory in 1988 was over the Oakland A’s, maybe the best team overall of the era. 

Video ***

Despite the age of the analog tapes, the quality is uniformly good.  Plenty of artifacts pop up but fewer than you would expect.  We get to see the immortal Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale and Gil Hodges in full color glory in the 1959 series, which I don’t think has been shown on any sports channels in recent memory. 

Audio **1/2

This is tough to rate because sadly the 1963 World Series tape is marred by poor audio that is barely audible at times, sounding like a dime store AM radio.  Don’t let this keep you from buying or renting the set, though, just pretend you are a kid listening to an AM radio under the covers! 

The 1959 series sounds fine despite being older.  I can’t tell if it was a bad transfer, or more than likely this was just a poor copy, and maybe the only one.  Hopefully a better one is laying around somewhere, but maybe not.  The other series are all in serviceable stereo.  

Features (zero stars)

None. 

Summary:

They only won five world series, but David will always be more popular than Goliath.  Long live the Dodgers, whether they be in Brooklyn or LA. 

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