When It Was a Game 3

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When It Was a Game 3 - One Last Look at What Baseball Once Was

Mar 9, 2008 (Updated Jun 12, 2012)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:excellent footage, many different players, good narration

Cons:gets more into the darker side of baseball such as racism and business end

The Bottom Line: Using players and fans home movies, HBO takes us up to the era of free agency in this last special celebrating the game.


Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie's plot.

HBO’s three When It Was a Game specials all center on one idea - that at one point in time there was a time when baseball was somehow different; when it wasn’t a business. It’s here in the third special where it sends the point home. It makes the case that free agency changed the game and changed the bond between players and fans. It took it from players being one of us, and of their having the same battle against the boss-man that their fans do to something else entirely.

Like the two specials before this, When It Was a Game 3 consists of home movies made by players and fans. It’s a sort of behind the scenes look at the games, rather than the slick productions and clips carefully culled and released through official channels. This is something truly for fans of the game, as it seems to regard the game with the same love we have for it.

There's a smell of those hot dogs and mustard and beer that gets in the cement and just stays in those tunnels...

And they'll take a wrecking ball to two classic stadiums in New York after the 2008 season.

What stood out to me in When It Was a Game 3 was that there was much more color footage. It’s moving into an era that although I was too young to remember most of what they talk about, many of the players still were playing in their twilight years and I can remember them to some degree. There's footage of Hank Aaron, Pete Rose, Willie Mays, Carl Yastrzemski, Frank Robinson, Maury Wills, and many more.

There is also footage of Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris. I was pleased to see this footage of the two of them together as I never realized how much the two actors in 61* actually did look like them until I saw this footage.

I appreciated the foray into the era of my Mets, including their 120 game losing season of 1962. This was a time when so many hometown heroes who had been lost to the Dodgers and Giants moving west or trades through the years returned to New York.

When It Was a Game 3 gets into the friction between the players and owners, so it gets into the fact that it wasn't a game and never really was. The players just pretty much shut up and took it because they had no choice. Players like Jim Kaat, Maury Wills, Jim Bouton, Al Kaline and others talk about the little bit of money they made playing baseball.

I could identify with what they talked about when they talked about the consistency in the game, particularly when it came to the 4-man pitching rotation. I can remember counting ahead when I knew a game was coming up that we had tickets for to try and figure out who was going to be pitching. It was that consistent.

Hearing some of the actual players shown talk about what it was like going through the game machinations is great, especially hearing Bob Gibson admit that he was a complete jerk on days he pitched.

When It Was a Game 3 doesn’t make it all look rosy back then as it goes into the fact that the American League teams dragged their feet signing black and Hispanic players and how it hurt them in the long run. It makes the case that this was the reason for the decline of the Yankees in the mid-1960's.

The footage has been restored, but not so much that it loses the charm of the home movies I remember viewing. The picture is soft and doesn’t have clear, crisp lines, but the colors are quite vivid. There’s not much snow in the film, either. The candid movies of players I saw play near the end of their careers was quite enthralling.

When It Was a Game 3 talked more of the problems in baseball such as racism and the salary issues. It doesn’t have the romantic outlook the other specials had when looking at the game. Despite the title, it has always been business. It’s just that for the players and fans it once was a game. Now it seems that vision is only from the seats.

This is my era, or the beginning of it. I could relate to so much of the memories - of scanning the schedule looking for the inevitable Sunday doubleheaders, the consistency of the pitching rotation, and the dominance of the National League for so many years. This was before designated hitters and free agency. It was a time of consistency from one year to the next when I didn’t have to learn what seemed like a whole new roster during spring training.


Other baseball-related reviews:

The 10 Best Baseball Films

Baseball Digest

61* ~ 100 Years of the World Series ~ The Babe ~ Babe Ruth ~ Baseball: A Film by Ken Burns ~ The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars and Motor Kings ~ Bottom of the Ninth ~ The Bronx is Burning ~ Bull Durham ~ Eight Men Out ~ Fear Strikes Out ~ Fever Pitch ~ For Love of the Game ~ The Jackie Robinson Story ~ A League of Their Own ~ Life and Times of Hank Greenberg ~ Lucy Must Be Traded, Charlie Brown ~ Major League ~ Mantle ~ The Natural ~ Nine Innings from Ground Zero ~ Pastime ~ Pride of the Yankees ~ The Sandlot ~ The Scout ~ Soul of the Game ~ When It Was A Game ~ When It Was A Game 2 ~ 1986 World Series New York Mets Collector's Edition 

The Bad Guys Won by Jeff Pearlman ~ Ball Four by Jim Bouton ~ Chicken Soup for the Baseball Fan‘s Soul ~ The Devil Wears Pinstripes by Jim Caple ~ A Dream Season by Gary Carter ~ If At First by Keith Hernandez and Mike Bryan ~ Iron Horse: Lou Gehrig in His Time by Ray Robinson ~ Jackie Robinson: A Biography by Arnold Rampersad ~ Ladies and Gentlemen, The Bronx is Burning by Jonathan Mahler ~ Moneyball by Michael Lewis ~ One Pitch Away by Mike Sowell ~ When You Can't Come Back by Dave & Jan Dravecky



© 2008 Patti Aliventi


Recommend this product? Yes


Viewing Format: DVD


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