Yankeeography: Mega-Set – DVD Review

Available at Amazon.com

Host:
John Sterling

A&E Home Video presents Yankeeography: Mega-Set. Thirty-four episodes on 12 DVDs. Running time 2,445 minutes. Episodes originally broadcasted from 2002 to 2006. DVD released Nov. 13, 2007.

The Show

If you’re a fan of the New York Yankees, this Mega-Set is the Mother load. These dozen DVDs are better than a shoebox filled with Topps baseball cards. Yankeeography is a series that runs on the YES network. Each episode is an 45 minute biography of the Bronx Bombers most beloved players that combines vintage footage with recent interviews. Sports radio personalities love to debate if a Yankee player has earned their pinstripes. If they don’t have a Yankeeography episode, they haven’t earned their pinstripes.

The series kicks off with Babe Ruth, the first true Yankee superstar. While the team had been playing in New York City since 1903 (known as the Highlanders until 1913), the Yankees’ glory days didn’t start until 1920 when they bought Babe Ruth from the Boston Red Sox. The Babe’s episode deals with his emergence as one of the greatest pitchers of his time as he led the Red Sox to three World Series titles. When he arrives in Manhattan, he went full time in the outfield. The only thing bigger than his home run total was his personality. There’s plenty of footage of the Babe mugging it up for the camera and clowning around with kids. They have clips from his Hollywood short films. This is better than the movie with John Goodman.

Lou Gehrig’s playing career has been boiled down to his consecutive game streak (which Cal Ripken Jr. broke). The documentary shows what an amazing career he had during those games. In 1927 he knocked in 175 RBIs. What makes this an amazing statistic is that for 60 of his at bats, Babe Ruth just had homered to clear the runners off the base. The most telling shot of the documentary is Gehrig working out without a shirt. The back and shoulder muscles truly made him look like an iron man. Unfortunately his strength vanished when he was stricken with ALS. Joe DiMaggio arrives at the end of Gehrig’s time in pinstripes. DiMaggio’s episode includes plenty of newsreel pics of his marriage to Marilyn Monroe. They dug up an old Mr. Coffee commercial.

There’s plenty of players from the Bronx Zoo-era including Reggie Jackson captured in full swagger. The episode on Sparky Lyle brings up the relief pitcher’s habit of dropping his pants and sitting on birthday cakes that arrived in the locker room. While the producers provide a cake, Sparky declines to demonstrate his technique. Red Sox fans will be relieved to know there isn’t a Bucky Dent entry in the series. Although there’s plenty of clips of his ’78 homer. Of the recent team members, Roger Clemens episode ends after he “retired”(?) from the Yankees the first time. There’s no coverage of his recent pinstripe comeback where he made over $20 million for a 6-6 season. Surprisingly enough, Alex Rodriguez hasn’t earned his Yankeeography.

John Sterling’s voice is reminiscent of Vince McMahon of the WWE. The annoying aspect of these DVDs is the Major League Baseball logo watermarked into the upper right hand corner of the screen. Does Bud Selig not realize that it’s distracting?

Yankeeography patterns itself after A&E’s Biography series, but does a much better job. The amount of archival material alone makes this a treasure trove. The shows bring these historic names to life instead of reducing them to names and statistics. Even a diehard Yankee hater can take pleasure from certain episodes (mostly the ones that don’t have Bucky Dent hitting the home run at Fenway). Yankeeography is the ultimate gift for a young baseball fan and a rabid diehard eager to bask in pinstripe nostalgia.

The Episodes

Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Phil Rizzuto, Yogi Berra, Billy Martin, Whitey Ford, Mickey Mantle, Casey Stengel, Elston Howard, Roger Maris, Bobby Mercer, Thurman Munson, Sparky Lyle, Graig Nettles, Lou Pinella, Catfish Hunter, Ron Guidry, Willie Randolph, Reggie Jackson, Goose Gossage, Don Mattingly, Bernie Williams, Paul O’Neill, David Cone, Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, Joe Torre, Tino Martinez, Roger Clemens, Hall of Famers, The Left-Handers and The Right-Handers.

The DVD

VIDEO:
The picture is 1.33:1. The archival footage varies in quality depending on the source.

AUDIO:
The soundtrack is Dolby Digital Stereo.

EXTRAS:
Discs 10, 11 & 12 are packed with bonus material from each episode. The source materials for the major moments are give uninterrupted. You get to hear Lou Gehrig’s complete farewell speech to the fans. You get to experience the TV coverage from Billy Martin Day. There are outtakes from the interviews. Mel Allen conducts and interview with Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams.

The DVD Lounge’s Ratings for Yankeeography Mega-Set
CATEGORY
RATING
(OUT OF 10)
THE SHOW

9
THE VIDEO

9
THE AUDIO

8
THE EXTRAS

8
REPLAY VALUE

9
OVERALL
9
(NOT AN AVERAGE)

The Inside Pulse
This is the perfect boxset for that Uncle that can’t stop blabbering about the time he saw Joe DiMaggio at the airport.

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