On the Set of 'New York Baseball Memories'

July 22, 2010
Jackie Robinson slides into home plate

Yesterday, Inside Thirteen was a fly on the wall during the taping of the upcoming THIRTEEN documentary, New York Baseball Memories. Before filming began, we also had the opportunity to sit down with the film’s producer, Marc Rosenwasser, for a brief Q&A.

Inside Thirteen: When will New York Baseball Memories be airing?

Marc Rosenwasser: We don’t have an air date yet, but it will be in late September, shortly before the Ken Burns series [Baseball and The Tenth Inning].  I should say, late September, probably before the Ken Burns series.

IT: How many story submissions have you received?

MR: I don’t have an exact number, but it’s dozens and dozens.

IT: How do you choose stories for the piece?

MR: We’re looking to choose the best stories, the richest stories, but also the stories that cover all different aspects of NY Baseball history.  So, we’re hoping not to have any glaring omissions in our piece.

IT: Are there any stories that stand out to you?

MR: There are many stories we’ve heard that stand out. There truly are just very emotional stories.  People have remarkably vivid memories of baseball games that they went to 50, 60 years ago.  It has a lot to do with family memories, and how family memories and baseball memories are interwoven.

IT: What led you to produce the film now?  What makes it relevant?

MR: We wanted to produce a New York version in conjunction with the Ken Burns national version, so it’s really something of a companion piece.

***

The New York Baseball Memories crew was on their second day of filming, and Inside Thirteen had the chance to observe two of today’s interviewees: each with a unique, vivid take on the world of NY Baseball –  just a sample of what’s to come in the film.

“Just like an apple tree creates apples, New York created baseball,” opened Peter Laskowich, an urban historian and professor.  Laskowich elaborated on the significance of Jackie Robinson joining the Brooklyn Dodgers (including the chain of reactions it set off for race relations in the U.S.), and emphasized that such a ground-breaking move could have only happened in Brooklyn, which he considered the most progressive of the boroughs at the time.  He also broke down the fan makeup of NY’s top teams during the 1940s and 1950s:  the Giants (baseball aficionados), the Dodgers (the underdogs), and the Yankees (the well-to-do).

In direct contrast with Laskowich’s  historical perspective was Steve Handelman, a retired IT manager, who offered his own unique bit of baseball nostalgia.  In 1961, Handelman witnessed NY Yankee Roger Maris hit his record-breaking 61st home run of the season, from the first row behind the dugout.  He eagerly waited to catch himself on camera during the evening news, but with no luck.  Thirty years later, in Cooperstown, NY, Handelman finally stumbled upon a photo of the historic day, with himself clearly visible in the front row.  In 1981, Handelman also managed to catch a ball from Reggie Jackson, only to give it away to a young boy before the end of the game.  “It seemed like the right thing to do at the time,” he said.

For more stories like these, and to submit your own, visit New York Baseball Memories, and check back in September for air dates on THIRTEEN.