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23/07/2017
BBC Radio 5 live

    100 Years of the Yankees: A Bronx Tale

     

    Colin Murray writes...

    Making a baseball documentary for a UK audience is a little like making a meat feast pizza for a vegetarian.

    Fly over London, Liverpool, Glasgow, anywhere in this part of the world, and you'll see football pitches and rugby fields, but try spotting a baseball diamond and it's like looking for the thread of the needle in the haystack.

    It may have its origins in England, but it was developed to be America's pastime, a sport that's on their televisions for almost two thirds of the year. They didn't embrace it so the rest of the world could 'get it', although millions have.

    As with Formula 1, cricket and NFL, to name but three, baseball is impossible to like if you don't understand the rules.

    But those of us who do are sick to the back teeth of people saying ''It's just rounders, isn't it?'' Sick of explaining the art of it, the complexity of it, the fact that the baseball is being chucked in the batter's general direction at anywhere between 80 and 100 miles per hour.

    Suffice to say, next time you are hitting the speed limit on the M1, imagine another 30 mph and you'll get the picture. I say this, because I am sure no-one reading this has ever broken a speed limit.

    Thankfully, 100 Years of the New York Yankees: A Bronx Tale is not just for fans of the 'boys of summer', but it also isn't simplified so that real baseball fans have nothing new to enjoy.

    It doesn't need to be, as the Yankees' story is about so much more than 27 World Series titles.

    It's about the Bronx, through the dawn of the dancehall, prohibition, and the birth of hip-hop. It's about global icons such as Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe. It's about a baseball club that spend money by the truck load, demand only success, yet spurn some of the most selfless superstars sport has ever produced.

    Hopefully you can listen live or listen again to this documentary about life, love, hate and history...not just baseball.

     

    Producer Patrick Nathanson writes...

    It's not often Dr Henry Kissinger, leading American sports shock jock Chris ‘Mad Dog’ Russo and tennis coach Nick Bollettieri inhabit the same radio airspace.

    But then it’s not often you get to do a feature documentary on the New York Yankees.

    A century has passed since arguably the most famous sports team in the world changed their name from the Highlanders to the Yankees.

    Their growth has mirrored that of the city they have become synonymous with.

    Walk down any high street in the western world and it won’t be long before you see a New York Yankees cap.

    From budding rappers to old age pensioners, they all don the Yankee hat.

    Its ubiquitous interlocking N and Y is one of the few truly global fashion icons, transcending age, race and gender.

    In 100 Years of the Yankees: A Bronx Tale, Colin Murray examines the story behind this remarkable rise from the rubble of the Bronx to worldwide fame and vast fortune.

    He explores the team’s humble origins in one of the roughest parts of the States when New York was flowing with illicit liquor and star baseball players rubbed shoulders with gangsters and prostitutes in licentious speakeasies.

    Decades later the Bronx gave birth to Hip-Hop as a new generation of players in the 1970’s- dubbed the ‘Bronx Zoo’ team because of their propensity for punch-ups and partying – emulated their predecessors and headed to Sedgewick Avenue for DJ Kool Herc’s groundbreaking, flat-shaking house parties.

    As well as tracing the stories of Yankees legends such as Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio and Yogi Berra, Colin catches up with modern day superstars such as Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter as he examines what it means to wear the famous pinstripes today.

    Our journey into the heart of Yankees folklore took us right into the soul of 20th century America - for the story of the Yankees is just as much about Marilyn Monroe and Hip-Hop as it is about homeruns and heroics with the glove.

    100 Years of the Yankees: A Bronx Tale is on 5live Sport from 7.30pm on Wednesday 10 April. Download the programme here.

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