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100 Years of the Yankees: A Bronx Tale

Tuesday 9 April 2013, 13:17

 BBC Radio 5 live BBC Radio 5 live

100 Years of the Yankees: Henry Kissinger  

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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  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    Another great all expenses paid trip for Colin.

    So no Thatcher blog. I suppose if the funeral was at Salford Cathedral there may have been a chance. NEWS STATION!

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    Why are the BBC broadcasting a documentary about a sport that probably has only a niche following outside the USA when there are two European Cup quarter final football matches being played. I would have thought at least one of these important matches would be broadcast. Football has a much larger following in this country that some obscure yank sport.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    Because as it states this is an organisation that transcends baseball. It is an organisation which has a global power, equal to that of Manchester United or Real Madrid.
    Baseball is also a sport that deserves much more coverage in the UK and I am pleased that such a historical event is being marked by the BBC. Exactly what I want as a licence payer.
    If you want the football, follow the live text commentary that is sure to be broadcast on the website, or even pay for Sky!

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    I totally agree with pete87. The New York Yankees are an organisation that are steeped in class and history. In one of the most storied sports in the world. Each team plays 162 games per regular season between April and October. This means they often play 6 sometimes all 7 days a week. It is a way of life more than a sport in the States and to those of us who live and breath it over here. My sleep patterns go out of the window 7 months starting every April. From the trailer I have heard this sounds like a wonderful documentary and one that maybe enlightening to those with an open enough mind.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    I live in Newcastle and follow football most of the time. But I also follow the Yankees on MLB tv. I have watch most of there games for the last 10 years.

    This is a good sport to watch, as each player is covered by his player performance stats, which can be compare with similar stats from other games. Players performance is followed by the fans on a daily basis. These stats give a true indication of each players performance for there time in the game. They can also be compared with players from different teams,over the last 100 years.

    To get a feel for the game watch the film currently on sky " moneyball"

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    Please make this available as a podcast. I like the diversity of this station, more please

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    sure Stirling, we don't get nearly enough soccer ;-) on 5live, let's spend money to broadcast Champion's League games with no British representation

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    New York Yankees are amazing! I'm English but I've been to 3 Yankees Games before and my dad is American so I've grown up with the New York Yankees. I've got 2 Yankees Jerseys and I don't like taking it off! 100 Years of the New York Yankees leads to definite American Legacy:)

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    Carrie, you're right - I've noticed a distinct lack of coverage of Maggie's passing!
    Stirling, have you listened to TalkSport? - try it. It's ideally suited to the small minded.
    You too Carrie - you won't be missed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    Why has the order of the comments been turned upside down? I can't change the format either. I have to start at the bottom comment and read upwards now.

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    At least I am interested in the whole station and its output reflecting 'NEWS and sport from the BBC', as the adverts have always said. It is a great opportunity with a new controller, to re-assess what the output is, and as the evenings and much of the weekends are devoted to sport, quite rightly, then the rest of the output should at least try and include news as opposed to formulaic programming. I couldn't care less about the Yankees but accept that some folk do. At the same time I would be happy to have a bit of respect for those 5 Live listeners who would like some spontaneity in programming. As far as my complaint about lack of regular blogs on this page, I think that is valid. Look at the history - the lack of regular blogging is a lost opportunity and a chance for a wide range of listeners to put forward their point of view on things actually happening in the world.
    So boring when you are told to switch off, or go away and listen to something else. So lacking in imagination.

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    Not really sure what your beef is Carrie? 'Some Spontaneity'? - I listen and if I don't like what I hear. For Instance, Stephen Nolan trying to whip up a 'Controversial Story' on a slow News day - It usually features in the 'News Summary' during his show! I drop him a few txt's and eventually, I listen to something else or do something else. To save time, now, as soon as his show comes on. I switch off - or preferably before! It's to your credit that you are interested in the whole station. But also a bit sad.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    I have always been interested in the station. But I think a rolling news station should be more than just regurgitating the same news bulletins every hour round the clock. There was a time when programme types and styles allowed for a bit of in depth look at news and sport stories as they developed but now it is just more of the same hour after hour, and mixed in with rubbish like "Moan in" and "Bump Club". There was a time when there were interesting pieces on regional news, on new books, the same way film is treated but with different reviewers. To listen to Rhod Sharpe really look at current news in some kind of journalistic depth makes you realise what a mess the day time listening on the station has become.

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    Just turned on to listen to the late night phone in only to find out that its flippin golf, and for the next three nights as well. I suppose we have to expect more of this as the BBC looses more and more live TV sport to SKY.

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    @14 Stirling I sympathise, but Radio 5 Live now has only four main areas of interest sport-wise, and they are golf, horse racing, tennis and athletics. If they could they wouldn't bother covering any football, since this is now considered too low-brow post Olympics.

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    And the Yankees' fans probably did a nice line in fundraising for the IRA. Bit we always knew where the BBC's sympathies lie don't we Colin?

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    Golf coverage amazing. Great commentary and Mark is a very good addition to the team. Lots of discussions and informative stuff so well worth listening to. But - no Masters blog from anyone on here even though you are giving many hours over to it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    @17: The golf coverage is always excellent and it's only been improved by not having Chris Evans involved.

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    Hi all. Can we keep comments on topic please? In this case the Yankees documentary.
    Anything off topic breaks house rules, I'm afraid. Positive or negative comments are fine, but anything offensive / rude will be removed by the third-party moderators.

    Carrie: one note about you comment about the lack of regular blogs - there have been 39 this year so far, which is almost three a week. They've been on a wide range of topics, covering both news and sport. The vast majority have been well received, and there are more to come. I agree it's been underused in the past, and we're working hard to rectify that. Please suggest topics you'd like to read about, but do bear in mind this is a behind-the-scenes blog.


  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    Will: News topics. An open blog that allows us to say 'great golf' as you are broadcasting it for most of the weekend yet there is nowhere to comment. I am well aware there have been 39 blogs this year. January - no news or sport blogs, February, 7 sport, 1 Oscars, 1 Wall, 1 politics, 1 rajars (!). March - 6 sport, 1 Wall, 8 general politics subjects, 1 Pope, 1 Canterbury, 5 Bump Club. April - 3 sport.
    Nothing about Thatcher, news subjects that matter to people, you are a news station yet you do not provide interaction unless it is mindless tweets or Facebook, if you can allow comment there, why can't you here? Post the same questions on here and let everyone join in.


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