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"Home Run Derby: Volume 1" -- A Personal Review

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by David Von Pein, Jul 25, 2007.

  1. David Von Pein

    David Von Pein Well-Known Member

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    HOME RUN DERBY: VOLUME ONE

    [​IMG]

    http://www.amazon.com/dp/B000PMFRRY

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-re...e=ReviewDetail


    Back cover:
    http://images2.dvdempire.com/gen/movies/1323845bh.jpg

    ===============================================

    AN UNEXPECTED BASEBALL TREAT RELEASED ON DVD!:

    "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 to me whenever he finds himself in front of a movie or TV camera. But, man, that guy could sure hit a baseball! [​IMG]

    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, e.g.:

    "HIGH FLY BALL BACK DEEP INTO LEFT FIELD....IT'S GOING WAY BACK....AND SHE'S....GONE OVER THE LEFT-FIELD WALL!" [​IMG] [​IMG]

    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 on July 13, 1960 (at the age of only 45), and the "Home Run Derby" series was not continued beyond the first 26 episodes after Scott's death (all 26 of those episodes 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 (when released in August and September 2007, respectively) will contain 9 programs apiece.

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    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:

    [​IMG]

    For more information on the history of California's Wrigley ballpark, click the links below:

    http://www.sportshollywood.com/lawrigley.html

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wrigley..._(Los_Angeles)

    -------------------------

    DVD STATS:
    • Single-sided, dual-layered disc.
    • The 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 television 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.
    -------------------------

    THE EPISODES:

    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)

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    -------------------------

    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 "Home Run Derby" 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. [​IMG]

    David Von Pein
    July 2007

    ===============================================

    Some other baseball-themed recommendations (from a slightly "Cincinnati"-biased POV): [​IMG]


    "THE CINCINNATI REDS 1975 WORLD SERIES COLLECTOR'S EDITION" (DVD):
    http://hometheaterforum.com/htf/showpost.php?p=2888297


    "DAY BY DAY IN CINCINNATI REDS HISTORY" (BOOK):
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-re...e=ReviewDetail


    "FROM BEHIND THE PLATE" BY JOHNNY BENCH (BOOK):
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-re...e=ReviewDetail


    "THE RELENTLESS REDS" (BOOK):
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-re...e=ReviewDetail

    ===============================================
     
  2. Hank Dearborn

    Hank Dearborn Well-Known Member

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    I'll pick this up . . . After they release all 3 volumes and then package them together as a complete discounted set. Which you know they'll do.
     
  3. Bill>Moore

    Bill>Moore Well-Known Member

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    Wow - I never would have imagined that this would have ever seen the light of day on DVD. I don't think I'll be buying it, but I would love to rent it to watch a few eps again.
     
  4. docdoowop

    docdoowop Well-Known Member

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    I watched most of Harm Killebrew's career in person at Met Stadium in Bloomington. It'll be great to see that swing again.
     
  5. James RD

    James RD Well-Known Member

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    Great review, DVP! Loved that show. It's hard to believe you're a baseball fan. Never would have guessed!
     
  6. David Von Pein

    David Von Pein Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, right. [​IMG]

    You want to know the truth though? I've only watched one game all of this season.

    Guess I'm just stuck in the '70s (and '60s).

    I could listen to THIS all day long. [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  7. Tom.W

    Tom.W Well-Known Member

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    I'll pick this up eventually, although I've been enjoying the tapes I made off ESPN Classic a few years ago. Except for some (not enough, IMO) World Series compilations from the 50's and 60's, there's probably no other way to see stars like Mantle, Mays, and Aaron in action. There are a few films of entire in-season games, though edited from that era.

    If you want to enjoy Home Run Derby to the fullest, you'd probably want to not know the outcome of each contest, right? So that makes it necessary to avoid looking at the contestants in the next episode, which is what I'm doing. Even tougher to do with the box set, but not impossible.
     
  8. Jeff_CusBlues

    Jeff_CusBlues Well-Known Member

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    Nice link Dave. I think we both shared our love of the Cincinnati Reds in the 1975 World Series DVD thread. The opening call on the JB website really brings back memories since he was my favorite player as a kid, and still is really. Sorry for the diversion.
     
  9. Richard Gallagher

    Richard Gallagher Well-Known Member
    Reviewer

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    Some Wrigley Field (L.A.) trivia -- it was the location of the robbery in the 1950 film Armored Car Robbery. The exterior shots were filmed on location on the street outside of Wrigley Field.
     
  10. David Von Pein

    David Von Pein Well-Known Member

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    Volume 2 of "Home Run Derby" was released on August 14th, 2007, and it's an even better bargain than Volume 1, because the second volume has 9 episodes (vs. 8 on the first DVD).

    "Volume 2" features an amazing battle between two sluggers that aren't nearly as well-known -- Wally Post and Dick Stuart. The Post vs. Stuart "Derby" is incredible (no spoilers here from me though [​IMG]). It features some things that are more akin to a "Mays vs. Mantle" match-up. Great stuff.

    Volume 2, like the first installment, comes highly recommended by this HR Derby fan. [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  11. David Von Pein

    David Von Pein Well-Known Member

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    Volume 3 (the final volume) was released on DVD by MGM on September 25, 2007. Nine more "Derby" contests are on tap in the final volume, with Willie Mays shining brightly at Wrigley Field.

    [​IMG]
     

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