Baseball (1994–2010)
4 user 1 critic

Something Like a War 

In 1894, a sportwriter named Byron Bancroft "Ban" Johnson takes over a struggling minor league - the Western League - and turns it into a financial success.


Ken Burns


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Episode credited cast:
Roger Angell Roger Angell ... Himself
Adam Arkin ... Various (voice)
Philip Bosco ... Various (voice)
Thomas Boswell Thomas Boswell ... Himself
Keith Carradine ... Various (voice)
John Chancellor ... Narrator (voice)
Ty Cobb Ty Cobb ... Himself (archive footage)
Ossie Davis ... Various (voice)
Loren Dean ... Various (voice)
Shelby Foote ... Himself
Doris Kearns Goodwin ... Herself
Stephen Jay Gould Stephen Jay Gould ... Himself
Donald Hall Donald Hall ... Himself
John Hartford ... Various (voice)
Anthony Hopkins ... Various (voice)


This second episode in the series covers the years 1900-10. The new century was a time of great change in the United States and around the world. Baseball was in decline generally but the creation of the American League by Bam Johnson in 1896 presents the first real competition to the older and well-established National League. The new league was an immediate success and established themselves in cities that had been abandoned by the National League. The National League owners did their best to obstruct the upstarts but in the end had to admit that their play was on a par with the older established circuit. This led to the first World Series in 1903 between the Boston Pilgrims and the Pittsburgh Pirates, which Boston won (there was no World Series in 1904 because of NY Giants manager John McGraw's antipathy towards Johnson and the American League, a decision that cost the players dearly). The stars of the day shone: Honus Wagner, Ty Cobb, Christie Mathewson and many others. African ... Written by garykmcd

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Release Date:

19 September 1994 (USA) See more »

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Did You Know?


Guitar Rag
Performed by Sylvester Weaver
Courtesy of Columbia Records
By arrangement with Sony Music Licensing
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User Reviews

A Fine Formation
24 May 2019 | by unclesamsavageSee all my reviews

As I progress through this series again, appreciating all that I see now as a mature adult instead of my childish fascination, I find particular interest in these early years of professional baseball. There is a raucous edginess that Burns romanticizes as purely American in this episode with the help of many sportswriters, authors, and journalists. The first decade of the 20th century highlighted in this episode brings light to many staples of the baseball experience we enjoy today, from the ballpark frank to 'Take Me Out to the Ballgame'. It also honors the likes of Honus Wagner, John McGraw, 'Ban' Johnson and his formation of the American League, Connie Mack, Fred Merkle, Rube Waddell, Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson and Ty Cobb, my personal favorite. The chapter on Ty has to be my favorite installment in this episode. And boy do I appreciate the organization Burns puts in his early work. Every chapter hangs around ten minutes, making it is easy to put down and come back to. There is also a great appreciation for marginalized groups like African-Americans and women throughout this episode and the whole documentary which I sincerely admire. Burns does a magnificent job at showing Baseball for the widely loved game it was during this time.

"(Cobb) would climb a mountain to punch an echo" has to be my favorite quote from the episode.

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