I stumbled across this PBS feature in the midst of some browsing yesterday. PBS Investigations ran an episode in 2004 about Pop Lloyd Baseball Field, a stadium in Atlantic City. What’s intriguing about the field is that not only was it named after a Negro Leagues ballplayer, but the stadium was built in 1949, at a time when racial prejudices ran particularly strong. Not only that, Atlantic City at the time was known to be especially discriminatory against the black community. The episode delves into why the stadium was built where it was built at the time it was built.
I wish PBS had posted the video of the episode on their site, but sadly, this is not the case. However, they do provide a link to the transcript of the episode, for anyone who is interested in the story behind the construction of this stadium. Reading the transcript feels a little trippy without the visual context to go along with it, but if you’re willing to venture into it, the history is pretty interesting (small spoiler: the motives behind the stadium’s construction were not exactly pure).
As part of the episode, PBS also interviewed pitcher Max Manning, which can be found in the transcript. What’s really cool, though, is that you can find an extension to his interview (with a video!) as a featured clip here.
I managed to watch PBS’s documentary on Ted Williams last night: American Masters – Ted Williams: “The Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived.” I found the documentary fascinating, even learning a couple things along the way.
The episode opens with Ted Williams’s return to civilian life after the Korean War. After seriously considering spending the rest of his life fishing after the war, Williams opted to return to baseball. Ted Williams, the documentary shows, was so obsessed with baseball, and especially with hitting, that his obsession permeated all aspects of his life. He also was infamous for his temper, often getting into it with reporters and refusing to tip his cap. These things combined made him, at times, a difficult man to get along with, even within his family.
The episode covered, briefly, some details of Williams’s youth, including his strained relationship with his parents. It also touches on many of the things you would expect a Ted Williams documentary to cover, including the 1941 season, his service in two wars, comparisons between him and Joe DiMaggio, and the final season — and at-bat — of his career.
Something I learned — which I was glad about, as I’m always happy to learn new things — was that Ted Williams was also quite the fisherman. According to the documentary, Williams is in two fishing halls of fame (which halls of fame was either not mentioned or I missed it). He was so meticulously detailed about this hobby that he would cut fish open to see what they ate in order to create baits that mimicked those foods. He would then keep a log to determine what worked and what did not work. It was the same kind of obsession and attention to detail that contributed to his success as a hitter.
The documentary includes interviews with Williams’s daughter, Claudia, and other family members, as well as with various baseball personalities: writers, historians, broadcasters, and former and current players. If there is a shortcoming, it is that the documentary seems to bounce around quite a bit, which made it feel somewhat scattered. I think part of this was due to the brevity of the show. One hour is hardly long enough to go into any real depth regarding any one man’s life, especially a man like Ted Williams.