Imagine my sheer delight one recent evening when I came across “Home Run Derby” on ESPN Classic.
The vintage TV show pitted the game’s greatest hitters of the 1950s and 1960s against each other for bragging rights and four-figure cash prizes (which were valuable back in a day when players often worked off-season jobs).
I got to see Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle square off. The campy feel of the show was as great as was the amazement of seeing the game’s two best hitters of that era be willing to do it. It was fantastic to watch two historical great, neither of whom I ever got to see live, hit BP in an empty minor league stadium in pursuit of $5,000. Each player even did commentary when he wasn’t at bat. They weren’t flashy or boastful, but rather they were apparently genuinely interested in winning in a sporting fashion.
The series is available on DVD and airs sporadically on cable from time to time. But be sure to give it a watch if you ever encounter it. Baseball is still a good game now, but the show will allow you to glimpse a time when it was truly great.