Baseball is seen as the quintessentially American sport with good reason. Emerging by the mid-19th century as the nation’s most popular game, baseball provided each new wave of immigrants with an avenue into American culture. JEWS AND BASEBALL: AN AMERICAN LOVE STORY, tracing the impact of Jewish players on America’s national pastime and the game’s impact on them, debuts on DVD and digital platforms on April 19, on the heels of a successful festival and theatrical run encompassing more than 100 screenings, and its public television premiere in March.
From the first – Lipman Pike – and on through Moe Berg, Hank Greenberg, Al Rosen, Sandy Koufax, Shawn Green and Kevin Youkilis, Jews and Baseball records the contributions of Jewish players and the recollections of Jewish fans, spanning the history of the game. Major League Baseball has had top-tier Jewish players almost uninterrupted from its very beginning and, through vintage newsreels and new and archival interviews, the story is woven together by Academy Award winner, Dustin Hoffman, as narrator.
A highlight of Jews and Baseball is a rare interview with Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax, who shares stories from his remarkable career, including missing a World Series game for a Jewish holiday and pitching a perfect game – one of his four no-hitters. Director Ron Howard, a young Dodger fan when Koufax pitched, talks about rooting for Sandy as a youngster, and about his shock and embarrassment when he discovered that he was making more money as “Opie” on the Andy Griffith Show than Koufax was pitching for the Dodgers.
The DVD’s “bonus footage” includes virtually the full Koufax interview – the most extensive he has ever provided since his 1966 retirement.
The film also includes recollections from Hank Greenberg (archival), Greenberg’s son Steve, Al Rosen, Larry King, author Roger Kahn, Commissioner Bud Selig, Players Association’s Marvin Miller, former Montreal Expos owner Charles Bronfman, the Mets’ Fred Wilpon, players Yogi Berra, Bob Feller, Norm Sherry, Ron Blomberg, Shawn Green, Kevin Youkilis, and a delightful opening scene in which actor Dennis Leary, as a guest in the Red Sox broadcast booth, discovers that Youkilis is Jewish.
Among the discoveries for viewers at home: The co-author of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” was Jewish, Washington’s Buddy Myer was a Jewish batting champion and the New York Giants were frequented by Jewish talent (including Andy Cohen, Sid Gordon, Harry Danning and Phil Weintraub).
Jews and Baseball is directed by Peter Miller, and produced by Miller and Will Hechter. Pulitzer Prize-winner Ira Berkow wrote the script. Amy Linton edits. DVD extras included deleted scenes, newsreels from the 1963 and 1965 World Series and jazz artist Sophie Milman performing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”
The DVD retails for $29.95. For more information, contact: