Ken Burns’ ‘Baseball’ Streams Free on PBS

(Image credit: PBS)

PBS is saluting baseball getting back on track by offering the Ken Burns documentary series Baseball on and the PBS video app starting March 31. There are nine parts. The free streaming offer concludes April 29.  

The documentary came out in 1994. Burns breaks it into nine “Innings,” starting with “Our Game,” which looks at the birth of the game in the 1840s, and continues through 1900. 

“Burns refutes the myth that Abner Doubleday invented baseball in Cooperstown and traces its roots instead to the earliest days of the nation,” according to PBS. 

Inning 2, “Something Like a War,” looks at the game through 1910 and features Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner and Christy Mathewson, among others. Inning 3, “The Faith of Fifty Million People,” looks at immigrants flocking to America and taking part in American pastimes. Babe Ruth is introduced. 

As the documentary progresses, the ninth Inning details the game from the 1970s to the 1990s, including free agency, the rise in player salaries, scandals and the battle between labor and management. 

PBS streamed the series for free in early 2020, with Major League Baseball on hold due to the pandemic. 

“The story of baseball is the story of America,” said PBS at the time. “It is an epic overflowing with heroes and hopefuls, scoundrels and screwballs. It is a saga spanning the quest for racial justice, the clash of labor and management, the transformation of popular culture, and the unfolding of the national pastime.”

Ken Burns documentaries have looked at Ernest Hemingway, jazz, the Civil War, Prohibition, country music and our national parks, among many other topics. 

Major League Baseball, having worked out a new collective bargaining agreement between the players association and owners, begins its season April 7. ■

Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.