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Celebrate America's Pastime With Baseball Documentaries

Jackie Robinson | A Film by Ken Burns

April 15, 2020

By Beatrice Alvarez

Any other April 15th, we would have celebrated Jackie Robinson Day by watching a Dodgers game. It was on April 15, 1947 that the great Jackie Robinson played his first game for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Robinson was the first African American player to compete in Major League Baseball. Thus, every April 15th belongs to him, as baseball fans continue to honor his legacy.

This year, of course, everything is different. Major League Baseball suspended all operations and delayed the start of the 2020 season in order to limit the spread of COVID-19. We are practicing social distancing and missing baseball terribly. The good thing is Jackie Robinson Day is still happening, just as baseball is still "America's Pastime." And we have baseball documentaries to remind us why we love the game so much. Excuse us while we put on our lucky Dodgers cap, make a hot dog, and enjoy these six films about baseball.

Jackie Robinson

In this two-part film from Ken Burns, we get a complete portrait of Jackie Robinson's life. His achievements in baseball were but a portion of his legacy. There is no better way to honor #42 than by learning more about him and his impact on American society.

A Century of Change: Negro League Centennial Celebration

The Negro Leagues were established in Kansas City in 1920. It was the home of the Kansas City Monarchs, where Jackie Robinson played shortstop for one season. Kansas City, Missouri's local station KCPT produced this documentary to look back on the century of baseball since then.

The Mohawk Giant: Schenectady & The Negro Leagues

WMHT in Troy, New York told the story of their star team: the Mohawk Giants. Baseball games in the Schenectady region were a show to behold, with athleticism and pizzazz. This documentary reminds us how baseball is woven into so many of our communities and local histories.

A Baseball Legacy: Fans Remember the St. Louis Browns

Do you remember the St. Louis Browns? Generations of St. Louis, Missouri residents sure do. The Browns played baseball there for 51 years before moving to Baltimore (oh, hey O's!) This documentary from the Nine Network is a love letter to the true fans of a forgotten team.

Ted Williams

American Masters has a bonus for Passport members: the story of Ted Williams. Williams was an incredible talent who spent his entire career playing for the Boston Red Sox. His swing is legendary because he worked at it with a fierce dedication to be the best hitter in baseball.


Why do we call baseball "America's Pastime?" Perhaps because the story of baseball mirrors the story of America through the years. Ken Burns takes us back in time to the origins of the game. Learn about baseball in America from 1840 to 1900 in the first episode of the epic series: Baseball.

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